On application, students choose one of the five tracks for the duration of their degree: Architecture, Urbanism, Management in the Built Environment, Building Technology or Landscape Architecture. At the moment, the faculty informs students by their website, brochures and multiple master events. However, it seems like 'word of mouth' (stories from students within the tracks) is also helpful for obtaining more detailed information on how things function inside a track.
Lena (A to MBE), Karolina (A to U), and Lotte (A to LA) share their experiences and thoughts:
Which tracks did you consider and why?
Lena: I had a hard time choosing my master track. For a long time, I was doubting between Architecture, Urbanism, the new master MADE of the AMS, Industrial Ecology, a social entrepreneurship master (outside TU Delft) and MBE. Eventually, I started in the Architecture track because I didn’t want to give up on designing. However, after one semester I decided to switch to MBE because Architecture felt like a repetition of the bachelor in Bouwkunde. I really wanted to learn more about our built environment on a strategic, financial and business level.
Karolina: I started in the Architecture track, but quite soon I knew that I wanted to change to Urbanism. This was, to a large extent, my own mistake of not doing a deeper research into the reality of the tracks and programmes. I thought that the choice of subjects within Architecture would be more flexible, so I would be able to head towards working on a larger scale. Unfortunately, the choice of design studios in Architecture is limited by the number of students and the "first come first serve" principle. Also, compulsory subjects such as Building Technology and History of Architecture were, to me, a repetition of topics from my bachelor.
Lotte: First, I was in the Architecture track, which I picked mainly because I thought it would offer me the most design perspectives. However, architecture was for me too focused on the building, whereas I was more interested in the space outside the building. I then picked landscape architecture, which I felt was a bit more like that. To me the track offered designing for a more public space, considering more scales, without losing the detail of a design.
What are the best things about your track, especially in comparison to the other tracks?
Lena: I’m very happy that I switched because MBE turned out to be a very good choice. The great thing about MBE is that it educates you in a widespread way. In the first year, you learn about many different aspects of our built environment and you develop your professional skills (project management, strategic thinking, decision-making, finance). In the second year, you’re offered total freedom to dive into something that fascinates you. MBE is also a very social master track. Students work together a lot and help each other out. After finishing MBE there is a wide variety of jobs you can choose from and organisations you can work for. (And yes, you can still be creative and use your design skills!).
Some initial ideas I had, which turned out to be NOT true:
MBE is not creative: Not true, also being able to understand the legal and financial aspects of a design decision (in addition to the creative thinking learned in the bachelors), gives you creative superpowers.
MBE is evil, unsustainable and unsocial: Not true, hello, we are the new generation, MBE students graduate on sustainable topics like the circular economy or inclusive cities.
Karolina: Of course, what makes the Urbanism track the most attractive for me is the subject - I have always been more interested in the context, the larger scales and in doing research. However, there are many other aspects that I think are worth noticing, especially when compared to the Architecture track. It is a very coherent program: All the subjects and exercises we do are coherent and complement each other. Sometimes I had the impression that in Architecture the order of the subjects was a bit random and, certainly, inconsistent.
The cooperation with students: thanks to smaller numbers of students (approx. 80 compared to almost 400) I feel that we are treated in partnership. It is easier for teachers and for us to get to know each other and value our opinions. After each quarter, we get a survey and discussions are held regarding our feelings and insights about previous subjects. You can see that the program is edited and changed every year so that the quality of education is constantly improving.
The quality of the group work: in Urbanism absolutely everyone is very interested in what we do and doing teamwork is really a pleasure. You can see that nobody came here by accident. Unfortunately, from my experiences in the Architecture track it concerned only about 50% of people. In the design studio we had people who were really outstanding and involved, but also a large group of people who seemed to be there by accident, showing little interest or understanding for the subject of the project.
Lotte: To me, the track [LA] offers designing with a more holistic approach. By this, I mean that the design works through on a large amount of scales because you design with processes (such as the growth of plants, or the presence or absence of water). This results in a challenge to me on both a practical and poetic level, since you are dealing with these processes as well as with human perception at the same time. On top of that, the aspect of time is present in a very practical way, because your designs are for a big part realised by the growth of plant species. Therefore, both seasonal changes, but also the changes in the landscape that happen over a larger period of time, are very much a part of design thinking. This I find very inspiring.
Did any of the faculty-provided track information support you in making your decision? Also, could you think of better ways in which the faculty could help students with choosing the right track?
Lena: Sorry to say it, but no, not at all. The brochures and the talks with professors did not present an accurate picture of MBE. They actually made me want to run away (which I did, at first). What made me switch in the end, was joining a day in the life of a friend who graduated from MBE and now worked as a project developer. This turned out to be a great day! So, in order to make the right decision right away, I would suggest talking to graduates from different master tracks, learning about the actual jobs they end up doing and deciding if that’s also something you could do for X numbers of years. Don’t choose the study, choose the job. Or even better: choose which study can help you make the most impact. Our built environment needs it.
Karolina: The greatest impacts on my decision were conversations with friends who had already studied Urban Planning, their stories and impressions about the programme. When it comes to information provided by the university itself the most useful to me was actually the Study Guide browser, which is a catalogue of all available subjects. It was only there that I could completely dive into and understand the programmes of the individual tracks. It seems to me that the information and promotion of individual specialisations could be more extensively available on the university's main website. In the current situation, the Urbanism track pages do not seem to show very much and yet other tracks have a lot of sense and advantages; it would be nice if their promotion was at a similar level as the Architecture track itself, especially in light of the current diverse employment potential after each specialisation. Many people are unaware of such possibilities and later try to strive towards them while following the program of the Architecture track.
Lotte: To be fair, I made my decision rather intuitively and based it a little on the experience of other students. On top of that, I searched the website quite a bit. This also helped. I think the faculty does a lot already in providing students with information about master tracks.
Basic information on the five tracks can be found on this webpage.
But moreover, if you have to make the decision, try to talk to as many students and graduates from the tracks as you can. Their stories and impressions can provide a more realistic, extensive and in-the-moment source of information.