Major in Urban Studies

Co-taught with the School of Community and Regional Planning (Faculty of Applied Science), the major in Urban Studies combines foundational and applied knowledge with progressively advanced community-engaged learning.

The first of its kind in British Columbia, this program provides students with the training and technical skills necessary for future careers in urban-oriented professions.

Graduates will be awarded a  Major in Urban Studies.  Admission is limited to current UBC Bachelor degree students.


The Major consists of 48 credits.  Ideally, URST 200 / GEOG 250 and PLAN 211* will be completed in Year 1 prior to admission.  However, we encourage all interested UBC BA students, regardless of year standing and course status, to apply.

Urban Studies students are required to complete 12 credits in core courses (including capstone), and a further 30 credits from courses taken in each of the following focus areas, with a minimum of 2 in each area (one GEOG, one PLAN):

Examine Indigenous urban geographies and place-making — particularly the multiple, complex and contested ways urban Indigeneity is constituted in Canada today — with opportunities for field trips and hands-on learning.

Engage with critical Indigenous and critical race scholarship, with the option of an additional regional focus on Latin America.

Explore the ecological dimensions of urbanization, and the vital role of cities in managing global environmental change.

What does urban green planning look like, and what can we learn from movements for environmental justice and social change?

How are current planetary shifts in economy and society shaping urbanization?

Explore the impact of immigration policy, changing global demographics and economic development on urban life and futures.

Consider the city as a terrain for the manifestation and mediation of social justice; learn how inequalities are currently (re)produced. Examine the role of cities and urban politics in the Gobal South.

Interrogate how new data and technology changes what it means to inhabit and plan cities.

How are cities being transformed by socio-economic innovation and the growth of citizen-generated data? What does it mean to live in a “smart city”?

Gain highly versatile technical skills in Geographic Information Science; learn graphical methods of data input and analysis, with an emphasis on data visualization techniques.

Examine the meaning of community and social justice in urban contexts. How do places and environments both reflect and shape social life?

Consider how land use and the establishment of distinct neighbourhoods interacts with urban trends and public policy.

Learn about the evolution, practice and future of urban planning and development, with an emphasis on housing, transportation and urban design.

Students will gain relevant professional experience through community-engaged projects in several courses, as well as a community-engaged capstone and optional Arts Co-op experiences


Admission to the program is by application. The application will include a copy of your unofficial transcript, grades from gateway courses*, and a 500 word (max.) written statement indicating motivations for applying.  You must be a UBC Bachelor of Arts student to apply to the program.

Applications for the 2024 cohort are now closed.  Applications for September 2025 open in January.

Please contact if you have questions regarding program pre-requisites.

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