The BA Major Urban Studies and BA Specialization Urban Planning are multidisciplinary programmes designed to introduce the students to the processes of planned change in urban environments. Urban Planning provides courses involving field studies, planning projects and the acquisition of technical skills. The programmes provide a foundation for further studies in planning or related fields and training for work in the planning, real estate, and social service fields. A transfer into BA Urban Planning (Specialization) from another programme requires a cumulative GPA of at least 2.7 on a 4.3 scale. The BA Urban Planning (Honours) requires the completion of a thesis based on research carried out by the student under the supervision of a professor. Transfer into the Honours programme requires a cumulative GPA of at least 3.3 on a 4.3 scale.
Most students completing the BA Specialization or Honours Urban Planning intend to work in some area of the planning field. Certain students upon graduation find employment with municipal, parapublic or private consulting agencies, generally in technical or support areas. Others continue at the Master's level at other universities; in these cases, the Specialization or Honours degree can be an additional advantage in the competition for the limited number of places in graduate schools and a sufficiently high GPA is a must. A double Major or Major-Minor combination can be useful in keeping one's options open after the Bachelor's degree or may simply offer a way of studying in several disciplines.
Planners work in municipal, regional and provincial planning departments as well as for school and medical services boards, public housing agencies and municipal administration. Planning in the private sector of the economy is done by real estate development firms, consulting firms working for development companies, retailing chains, industrial or office location firms. Opportunities also exist in institutional planning at the management level. While the purposes and subject areas vary widely, similar approaches and methods are found in all of these work environments.
Students who intend to work in the town planning field should take special note of the following legal restrictions: the Ordre des urbanistes du Québec (OUQ) will admit graduates of certain Québec and Canadian programmes of study, upon completion of a two-year supervised stage and an entry examination. Completion of the Bachelor's degree at Concordia cannot lead to membership in the OUQ, which confers the exclusive right in Québec to call oneself a "planner" or "urbaniste". Membership is rarely required by employers although it is sometimes said to be useful in setting up a consultancy. Elsewhere in Canada, the voluntary association is the Canadian Institute of Planners/Institut canadien des urbanistes and their provincial affiliates which also accredit programmes of study and admit members, although planners there are also not required to become members and may call themselves "planners" or "urbanistes" without membership. For a list of accredited planning programmes at the undergraduate and graduate level in Canada and the US, go to www.cip-icu.ca ("Student Zone" and then "University Programs"). The CIP-ICU website also has job listings under the heading "Employment Services"); for US jobs one place to look is http://www.planetizen.com/jobs. It is usual in the town planning field for formally trained planners to work alongside architects and landscape architects with little professional distinction.
Other planners do not have their own professional association and will be seen as technical advisors or administrators by their respective working organizations.
Other graduates will be interested in policy analysis and public administration, for which a broadly based background in Urban Studies can be seen as sound preparation. For these students it would be desirable to increase the number of 300- and 400-level courses in Economics, Political Science and Geography as part of the elective load. Private corporations also employ policy analysts, for which an understanding of finance, business practice and management is an asset.
Students wishing to fill technical positions in the private and public sectors involved with services provided to the public should acquire analytical skill using computer, computer mapping and geographical information systems (GIS). Technical positions in planning increasingly require knowledge of computer-assisted design and GIS. Environmental impact assessment where humans, landscapes, architectural heritage or esthetics are concerned will often be carried out by planners or allied professionals from architecture and geography.
The Urban Studies courses are intended to provide the theory, the historical and legal background required for application in the field. All courses involve the development of analytical skills useful in a great number of work areas not specially mentioned above.
The prospects for job placement change with economic cycles. There are niches of significantly greater demand that may not be lasting. Flexibility that comes from broad preparation is important but good analytical and communication skills are more important. Ultimately employers are most interested in the specific skills, interest and abilities you bring to their environment.
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Concordia University has a number of official exchange agreements with universities abroad. For example, the agreement with the University of Dundee in Scotland has allowed Concordia students to study there for one year while paying Québec tuition fees. The year of study there can be fully credited toward a year of study (30 credits) at Concordia. Study abroad should only be contemplated in the second year of a three-year programme.
Under a global exchange agreement covering all Québec universities, it is also possible to undertake a year of study in a French university and have these studies fully credited toward the Bachelor's degree at Concordia. Each case will be examined separately. French universities charge modest tuition fees but students are expected to be fully self-supporting. German universities will also accommodate visiting students but it will be necessary to pass a German language proficiency test upon arrival. Concordia International has an expanding roster of universities which can be attended by Concordia students. See Concordia International for a listing of our current partner institutions.
The planning collections of the four universities in Montreal are accessible to Concordia students. Journals are sometimes carried by more than one institution but many journals are only available at one university. Undergraduate students may borrow only from Concordia University but you may consult the extensive collections at, for example, Blackader-Lauterman Library at McGill or the Bibliothèque de l'aménagement at the Université de Montréal.
Urban Studies students may also become student members of the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Membership will grant you discounts on purchases and entry to the Centre. You may also visit (and browse) in the excellent bookstore. You may also arrange to consult documents in the specialized library of the CCA.
McGill's bookstore also carries an interesting range of titles. One of the better bookstores carrying planning and architecture titles is Olivieri.