Blick in die Lernzone beim D3 Gebäude.

Urban and Regional Economics

Please note that the course starts in Summer Semesters only.
a. What are the main topics of the specialization?

Economic activity does not take place on the head of a pin. Where firms, households, families and individuals are located affects job and business opportunities, wellbeing and behaviour. Despite globalization, an increasing number of people and firms is concentrated in cities. The first class in this specialization will illustrate why this is the case. Not all places are equally successful. Over time, positive and negative feedback mechanisms result in uneven spatial development, with some regions and cities turning into global financial centres, others into high-tech manufacturing regions and yet others again into rustbelt regions, cities and neighbourhoods affecting business opportunities and life chances of children. This does not mean that poor places are stuck at the bottom of the spatial hierarchy until eternity but that regional and urban policy goals and strategies need to be place-specific, taking into account the different starting positions of those places. The second class in this course will discuss different regional and urban development strategies and policies.

For an economy and society to run smoothly and efficiently requires easy access to markets and jobs, it requires the elimination of spatial distance as barrier to mobility. Transportation and communication infrastructures produce accessibility. As transportation infrastructure improves, the cost of moving goods, people and information declines. The third class in this specialization will examine the demand for and supply of transportation infrastructure and presents appraisal methods of infrastructure investment. While supra-national entities such as the EU, states, regions and municipalities are often in charge of supplying infrastructure, they do so in the context of consumer preferences. How consumers make travel choices (given mobility options and cost of travel) and how public administration can account for those is the subject of class 4.

b. How to get in?

Students interested in taking this specialization are required to subscribe to the respective “Access to Specialization” course. Ten places for BBE students are reserved in any of the four courses of this specialization. A “first come-​first served” principle is applied in the “Access” course, i.e. the ten students that subscribed the earliest will receive priority for subscribing to courses in this specialization. If eligible students will not subscribe to any of the specialization courses, other students that subscribed to the “Access” course will be nominated.

c. List of courses

This specialization consists of four courses:

  • Course I: Introduction to Economic Geography (4 ECTS)

  • Course II: Applied Economic Geography and Case Studies (8 ECTS)

  • Course III: Regional Economics I (4 ECTS)

  • Course IV: Regional Economics II (4 ECTS)

Course I: Introduction to Economic Geography

As the title suggests, this is an introduction to Economic Geography. It explains the need for businesses to expand their spatial reach in order to access new markets, cheaper labor and raw materials (globalization). In particular, the challenges and opportunities for businesses, workers and consumers during the current phase of globalization are discussed. Despite globalization, firms and people crowd into cities. The course illustrates the advantages of spatial agglomeration through specific examples such as Silicon Valley and the financial center of London. The class comprises lectures and small group discussions of academic papers.

Course II: Applied Economic Geography and Case Studies

This course reviews and discusses regional economic development theories and policies and teaches exploratory and explanatory spatial econometric tools (eg. Spatial regression analysis). During computer seminars, students learn how to access and analyse datasets from EUROSTAT and Cambridge Econometrics, develop a research question, develop and implement a methodological strategy to examine the research question and use real data to answer it. Finally, the groups present their research results.

Course III: Regional Economics I

The course will give an overview of transport economics and its relation to spatial structures. It will discuss the relevance and measurement of accessibility, including the societal costs (e.g., negative externalities) and benefits (e.g., agglomeration effects) related to improved accessibility. Not only the demand for transport infrastructure and services will be discussed, but also supply-side aspects such as optimal decisions regarding infrastructure and mobility service provision. The course will also cover appraisal methods for infrastructure investments (e.g., should a tunnel be built between location X and location Y?).

Course IV: Regional Economics II

The course will focus on applications at the intersection of transport and spatial economics. An example is the estimation of discrete choice models concerning travel-related decision making (which variables explain departure time, route choice or mode choice?). These models typically allow for the derivation of willingness-to-pay estimates for reductions in travel times, delays, and crowding (e.g., how much is a reduction of travel time by 10 minutes "worth"?). The students will further work on group projects related to the future of mobility, including new technologies (e.g. autonomous, electric, shared vehicles), city design principles (e.g. walkable neighborhoods), and policy-focused topics (e.g. reduction of greenhouse gases from transport, measures that reduce congestion).


The specialization starts in Summer Semesters only!

Course I and II will be held in the summer semester 2020. Courses III and IV will be held in the Winter Semester 2020/21. Course III is held in the first half-semester and Course IV in the second half-semester. Students are strongly encouraged to follow the sequence because course III and IV will not be held in English in Sommer semesters and a postponement of courses I and II will result in an unmanageable workload. If students stick to the sequence they can complete the specialization in one year.

d. Which career prospects can graduates of the specialization expect upon completion?

Students completing this specialization will acquire the essential theoretical and methodological social science research skills that will allow them to analyse and predict location decisions by firms and households, address real- world problems such as enhancing the innovative output of regions, explain regional economic growth and decline or assist evidence-based urban and infrastructure planning. In addition, they will be prepared for interdisciplinary masters programs including economics and business programs and have opportunities to work as part of inter-disciplinary teams in the private and public sector organizations including the OECD, EU, regional, urban and transport planning institutions.


Univ.Prof. Dr. Jürgen Essletzbichler

Univ.Prof. Dr. Jürgen Essletzbichler

Head of the Institute for Economic Geography and GIScience