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Research-led teaching

Research, the path to academic rigour

Through close collaboration with the Cities are back in town research programme, the Urban School leverages research as an essential pedagogical tool within its taught programmes:

  • The programme's researchers are heavily involved in teaching at the School and their research influences programme content.
  • Students at the Urban School have access to many academic events organised by Cities are back in town: seminars, research workshops and international symposia. They also benefit from the intellectual stimulus of Sciences Po's research laboratories.
  • The research track offers students who so wish the possibility to prepare for doctoral study in sociology or political science.

Research-led teaching imparts knowledge and skills that are invaluable for graduates' professional development: rigour, the capacity for in-depth analysis and a critical perspective.

Focus on the research track

The research track of the Regional and Urban Strategy (STU)Governing the Large Metropolis (GLM) and Governing Ecological Transitions in European Cities (GETEC) Master's programmes, organised in partnership with the School of Research of Sciences Po, in sociology or in political science, is for students who intend to undertake doctoral study after their Master's degree.

The research track in sociology or political science is organised with the Sciences Po School of Research, starting in the second semester of the Master's programme. Admitted students follow this track within their Master's programme, with specific courses and exercises.

  • First year: pre-track
    • Semester 1: interested students may apply (see below).
    • Semester 2: interested students can take certain courses at the School of Research in political science and sociology (see the STU and GLM curricula). They prepare a short research proposal. Selection for the research track is finalised at the end of the second semester.
  • Second year: research track
    • Semester 3: students admitted to the track prepare their research dissertation and take certain courses at the School of Research.
    • Semester 4: research dissertation (fieldwork, analysis, drafting), at Sciences Po or on exchange at a partner university abroad, supervised by a professor from the "Cities are back in town" programme. Defence of the dissertation.
Step 1: statement of intent (semester 1)

All first year Master's students may apply by sending a letter of intent to the head of their programme, setting out the research topic, the intended field, and the choice of academic discipline.

Step 2: pre-admission and admission (semester 2)

Students submit their research proposal (five pages maximum) to the academic advisor of their Master's programme (before mid-May).

Applications are assessed in late May by a committee made up of Urban School faculty members and senior School of Research faculty. Admissions are mainly based on academic results from first year.

Students admitted to the research track are put in touch with the supervisor of their dissertation.

Step 3 : Preparation of the research dissertation (semesters 3 & 4)

Guided by their supervisor, students refine their research proposal and submit it at the start of second year to the academic advisors of their Master's programme.

They write their dissertation in semester 4. In the second half of May, students defend their dissertation before a jury of two Sciences Po faculty members, one of whom is the dissertation supervisor.

Graduates from the research track can apply for a doctoral programme

  • at Sciences Po, under the conditions defined by the School of Research
  • or at a partner university.

Around thirty graduates from the Urban School are enrolled in a PhD programme at Sciences Po or in other universities in France (Université Paris Est, IEP Lyon, EHESS) and abroad (United Kingdom, United States, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, etc.), in various disciplines (sociology, political science, geography and urban planning) and with public and private funding.

See the list of the PhD graduates or currently in PhD (PDF)