Courses at the GSSI

The Doctoral Program in Urban Studies and Regional Science is organized around six teaching cores:

i) Regional science; ii) Economic geography; iii) Social sciences and the city; iv) Urban planning; v) Public policy; vi) Qualitative and quantitative methodology.

Each of these cores comprises a wide range of activities reserved to Ph.D. candidates, which includes lectures, research and policy seminars, training and mentoring sessions. Members of the teaching committee as well as visiting scholars and experts contribute to the development of the different courses.

All these activities take place during the first year of the program and are compulsory. Detailed information on the schedule of each activity will be available on the GSSI website (

Regional Science

Prof. Alessandra Faggian (GSSI)
Dr. Félix Modrego (GSSI)

The teaching core on Regional Science provides the students with a basic understanding of the main theories and facts about the social and economic organization of regions, regional growth dynamics and the rationale behind regional development policies. The main questions addressed by the teaching core on Regional Science are the determinants of the location decisions of firms and industries; the drivers of inter-regional migration and the consequences of factors’ mobility for regional growth and regional inequality. 

The course is structured around three main units:

  1. The location and agglomeration of people and economic activities
  2. The functioning and consequences of interregional migration
  3. Theories of regional growth and development, and regional policy options.

Economic Geography

Dr. Giulia Urso (GSSI)
Dr. Davide Luca (GSSI)

Why do some territories and regions perform better than others in terms of economic growth and development? How can local and regional development policies foster economic activity and socio-economic development in lagging areas? The teaching core on Economic Geography will provide students with an in-depth understanding of the determinants of spatial economic disparities and of the evolution of the geographic reflection on them, examining the main theories and approaches to local and regional economic development. The final part of the course will then focus on the regional development policy of the European Union, illustrating its rationale and discussing its evaluation and results. The last lesson will be devoted to a debate exercise: students will be divided into two groups defending contrasting policy positions on a pre-established topic. 

Social Sciences and the City

Dr. Alessandro Coppola (GSSI)

The teaching core on Social Sciences and the City aims to introduce students to key theoretical foundations and to the empirical practice of qualitative research approaches to the study of the city. While discussing the tradition and prevailing contemporary developments in urban theory ranging from urban sociology to urban geography throughout the twentieth century, the course will discuss a selection of relevant research objects such as housing, public space, urban movements, socio-spatial differentiation, cultural and gender diversity. Each research object will be addressed through the critical presentation and discussion of a range of actual qualitative researches. 

Urban Planning

Prof. Francesco Chiodelli (GSSI)

The teaching core on urban planning explores regulatory, institutional, social and ethical aspects of spatial planning. The course covers main aspects of both planning theory and practice. The first part of the course is devoted to the investigation of the complex nexus between technical knowledge and political knowledge in planning, and of the connection between spatial regulation and social regulation lato sensu. Several historical and contemporary case studies are explored at this aim. The second part of the course analyses the most relevant international trends in planning theory and practice throughout the Twentieth century, focusing in particular on some recent developments in the field, such as strategic planning, communicative and collaborative planning.

Public Policy

Visiting lecturers

The course introduces some of the major debates and issues in urban and regional policy and politics. It will enable students to develop analytical and critical skills relevant for understanding policy analysis and some of the difficult choices involved in identifying, addressing and resolving public policy problems. Understanding the impact, scope, and reach of public policy on individual and collective lives and choices, and role of the government in urban and regional management and development is the principal goal of this course.

Qualitative and quantitative methodology

Dr. Giulia Pezzi (GSSI)
Visiting Lecturers

The teaching core on qualitative and quantitative methodology aims at providing the PhD candidates with an introduction to both qualitative and quantitative methods applicable to the urban and regional research fields. Courses will be taught by members of the academic board and invited lecturers. Topics to be addressed in the teaching core on qualitative and quantitative methodology are: 

  • Qualitative Research Methods (Dr. Giulia Pezzi, GSSI)
  • Building up and managing a reference library using Mendeley (Dr. Giulia Pezzi, GSSI)
  • Ethics and research (Prof. Stefano Moroni, Polytechnic University of Milan)
  • Introduction to Statistical Analysis using STATA (Prof. Özge Öner, Jönköping International Business School)
  • Visualizing Data (Maddalena Falletti and Roberto Rota, freelance graphic designers)
  • Academic writing and publishing (Lorenzo Chelleri, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya)
  • Introduction to GIS (Rachel Franklin, Brown University)


Lectures will be complemented with a series of seminars, where leading international experts from various disciplinary fields will present results of their research and share their knowledge with participants. The seminars are conceived as an open instance for exchanging ideas and discussing on key topics of contemporary urban studies and regional sciences.

This is the preliminary list of seminar speakers for the 2017-2018 academic year: Rachelle Alterman, (Technion, Haifa, Israel); Andrea Ascani (Utrecht University, The Netherlands); Miguel Atienza (Catholic University of the North, Chile); Nicola Bellini (Tourism Management Institute, La Rochelle Business School, France); Ron Boschma (Utrecht University, The Netherlands); Andrea Brighenti (University of Trento); Marco Calaresu (University of Sassari, Italy); Marco Cremaschi (Sciences Po, Paris, France); Alessandro Crociata (University of Chieti-Pescara, Italy); Ulrich Hilpert (Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena, Germany); Thomas Maloutas (Harokopio University, Athens); Philip McCann (University of Sheffield, UK); Antonio Páez (McMaster University, Canada); Mark Partridge (Ohio State University, US); Gabriele Pasqui (Polytechnic University of Milan, Italy); Carlo Salone (University of Turin, Italy); Federico Savini (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands); Petra Staufer-Steinnhocher (WU Wien, Austria); Davide Torsello (CEU Business School, Budapest); Tommaso Vitale (Science Po, Paris, France); Frank Witlox (Ghent University, Belgium)