Smart Sustainable Cities

In our Smart Sustainable Cities (SSC) programme, you will work with an international group of fellow students and lecturers on designing sustainable cities for the future. How do we solve problems related to energy, mobility and waste in the city? How do we ensure inclusiveness, participation and tolerance in the city? How can we solve the issues in a smart way, for example with the help of ICT? These questions challenge us to develop integrated sustainable solutions for economic, social and environmental problems. Our future depends to a great extent on whether we’ll be able to boost the sustainable development of cities. So join the SSC minor programme and become the smart sustainable city professional of the future!


This multidisciplinary minor is open to all students who are interested in the development of smart sustainable cities. Your previous education is related to the themes People (inclusiveness, participation, policy), Planet  (energy, mobility, circularity),  Profit (business models, marketing/communication), or Smart (Big Data, ICT). Apart from that there are no formal admission requirements, but you are expected to have attained English CEFR level B2.

The Examination Board has already determined which minors do not have a higher professional education level and/or have an unacceptable overlap with the compulsory curriculum of your own study programme. Check at the page Not allowed minor courses under your institute which minors are not allowed. This page will be updated from 29 February 2024 for the 2024-2025 minor offer.


As more and more people around the world live in cities, it is important we change our cities’ dependence on non-renewable energy, that we limit the use of building) materials that are not part of a closed cycle, and traffic and transportation works efficiently. To do this, we need to find and implement sustainable solutions that can easily fit in with the ways in which people live, ‘smart solutions’ – and you can be part of that process! During the programme, you combine regular course work with a project assignment from one of our external partners.

Going abroad

During this minor you will get the unique opportunity to go abroad for a short period. You will work on one of the ‘Sustainability Challenges’ for consortia in the Netherlands or abroad. The project locations abroad may differ per year. Past projects abroad took place in e.g. Valencia /  Alcoy (Spain), Turku (Finland), Manchester (UK), Hanoi (Vietnam), San Jose (Costa Rica). The costs for travel and accommodation are for your account. Students that have a full time registration at HU may be eligible for ERASMUS+ short term mobility funding.

Learning objectives

You work on the analysis of SSC challenges, the design of SSC solutions and the evaluation of their feasibility. These sustainability challenges are complex but reasonably structured, the available methods are known, the context is multidisciplinary and situated in practise, and coaching supervision is available. After successfully completing this course, you can:

  • demonstrate understanding of the Smart Sustainable Cities (SSC) concept, (and its drivers & barriers) by using the triple bottom line approach (social sustainability, planetary limits, and economic viability) of urban challenges/discussing the potential role of ICT, by using reliable sources and perform valid research as a means to solve the urban sustainability challenge;
  • demonstrate capability to analyse a sustainability city challenge, by using methods such as the 5W approach, stakeholder analysis, mind mapping, argument mapping, cause-effect relations, reframing with the purpose to describe this challenge in a sound, clear, convincing and concise manner to the commissioner;
  • demonstrate the ability to apply the business model canvas with the purpose to develop a SSC product/service idea into a viable business concept;
  • demonstrate the ability to apply design research techniques (including reframing the initial question, generative techniques and co-design techniques) to design innovative, creative and smart solutions to solve complex challenges in urban areas;
  • demonstrate the capability to apply a wide variety of research methods, skills and techniques (SWOT, MCA, Impact Assessment, Scenario Analysis, Cost Benefit Analysis, Interview, survey, desk research) to analyse SSC challenges, design SSC solutions, and evaluate their feasibility in a substantiated way;
  • demonstrate the ability to use communicative skills (presenting, writing, discussing) to work effectively, to provide management and leadership skills to run the project efficiently, and to develop personal/professional skills for life-long learning (reflection skills, personal development plan, critical thinking);
  • demonstrate the ability to apply basic concepts, theories and methods for energy analysis, traffic and transport analysis, and the circular economy for designing SSC solutions;
  • demonstrate the ability to establish a plan for behaviour change when introducing a (smart) sustainable solution, applying methods like I-change model and theory of planned behaviour.


The programme consists of a 15 EC Introductory Course and a 15EC multidisciplinary ‘Sustainability Challenge’. In the Introductory Course you will learn more about energy, mobility and circular economy in various workshops, and you’ll learn how to apply relevant methods and techniques for researching, designing and advising on/about Smart Sustainable Cities. This includes, for example: building blocks for social design, business model canvas, entrepreneurial skills, co-design techniques, research skills. Excursions are part of the programme. During the Sustainability Challenge, you work independently with your team on behalf of a real client (for example the municipality). You will explore the sustainability challenge that they are facing, you will design smart, creative and innovative solutions for this challenge and advise how this can be converted into a viable commercial proposition. You are of course also responsible for project management.


Assessment takes place through:

  • Research plan
  • Reflection report
  • Final report
  • Presentation


Rietbergen, M.G., R. van Stigt, E-J. Velzing (2021). Smart Sustainable Cities – a handbook for applied research. HU University of Applied Science Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands. ISBN: 9789089281494. All other literature is made available through the digital learning environment.


The schedule and the days are not yet known.

With the exception of the first teaching period of the academic year (starting September), the lesson and test schedules are always posted on Mijn Rooster four weeks before the start of each teaching period. The schedule for the first teaching period of the academic year can be found on the site three weeks before the start. The most up-to-date schedule is always visible on Mijn Rooster. 

At HU, full-time education may be scheduled between 08:30 and 19:00.

Additional costs

Around € 500 if you go abroad. Students registered at HU may be eligible for Erasmus support for short term mobility.


This minor course is marked by the Green Office as a sustainable minor. This means that by participating in this minor course, you can contribute to one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals from the UN.



“A wonderful minor! Beforehand I expected the Dutch university system to be better than the Hungarian, but this minor even exceeded my expectiations. The teachers really cared about their subjects and they helped us on a personal and a professional level. I am specializing in energy and I would like to find a job in the sustainable energy sector. 

The best part of the minor for me was the project. I never took part in such projects before, as the Hungarian university system is focussed on theoretical knowledge. But during the project of this minor we would also apply our knowledge in practice. Our group had students with lots of different backgrounds. I really liked the atmosphere. The discussions were very inclusive and meaningful, we were reflecting together and created bonds.” 

Greg, student Electrical Engineering, University of Debrecen, Hungary, age 21 

Switch to English English