Cities: Geography, Planning and Urban Life - Online geography courses | Arts and Science Online

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Cities: Geography, Planning & Urban Life

GPHY 227/3.0

The city from a geographical and planning perspective. Topics include origins of urbanism; mega; migrant, and global cities; urban competitiveness; land use planning and design; suburbanization and sprawl; new urban identities and culture; retailing transport; public space; private and temporary cities; urban poverty; politics and governance; sustainable urban futures.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Articulate the rationale for the development of several approaches to urban geography and how it is possible to gain urban insights from each.
  • Assess the origins and growth of cities to determine what makes a place “urban”.
  • Describe the economic, social and political forces shaping contemporary urbanization, with a particular knowledge of the post WWII North American urban context.
  • Compare various approaches to land use, planning, housing, and transportation issues.
  • Demonstrate the integral role that space plays in shaping how urban residents express their social and cultural values.
  • Analyze how cities are governed and how they could be more sustainable in the future.
  • Demonstrate active listening skills to consider peers’ perspectives and to articulate effective communicate with peers.


This course is designed as an elective course for students from various backgrounds at all levels of post-secondary education. It is also recommended as a foundation course for students pursuing a career in geography and in particular urban geography, urban planning or urban studies. The course focuses on cities as the spaces and places in which most people in the world now live and work. The unique feature of this course lies in its multi-disciplinary approach to understanding the city. By the end of the course students will be able to understand the city from a variety of perspectives within the geographical and planning tradition. This multi-perspective approach is valuable because it is only when we adopt a complex and textured reading of cities that we may begin to address contemporary and pressing issues facing cities today.

The course is divided into four main parts. The first part explores the inter-urban context of cities including the origins and growth of cities, forces shaping contemporary urbanization, and global, national and regional perspectives on urban systems. In this part of the course we will also review various theoretical approaches to urban geography; we continue to visit these approaches throughout the remainder of the course as we examine different urban issues. The second part of the course examines urban structures and land use in the city, including urban planning, housing and transportation issues. The third part of the course examines how people live within the city, including different social, economic and cultural experiences and expressions. The final part of the course examines governing approaches, including concepts of power, politics and sustainable futures. While offering global context and comparative international perspectives, the primary focus is on the North American city.


Winter 2020
Course Dates: 
Jan 6 - Apr 3, 2020
Exam Dates: 
Apr 9 - 25, 2020


12% - Quizzes (x6)
15% - Midterm
18% - Discussion Activities (x3)
25% - Individual City Profile
30% - Proctored Final Exam

**Subject to Change**

Final Examination

Students must write their exam on the day and time scheduled by the University. The start time may vary slightly depending on the off-campus exam centre. Do not schedule vacations, appointments, etc., during the exam period.



Time Commitment

Students can expect to spend approximately 10 hours (120 hours total) on this course.

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.

About OnQ

onQ is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into onQ to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the onQ site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA or BSc requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a high speed internet connection as well as a microphone and speakers to be able to watch videos, hear sounds, and participate in interactive online activities. A webcam is recommended but not necessary.

System Requirements:

Computer Specifications

  • Windows 8.1 or newer
  • OSX 10.13 (High Sierra) or newer
  • Dual Core 2 GHz processor
  • 4 GB RAM
  • Soundcard
  • USB Headset
  • Webcam

Supported Browsers

  • Chrome (preferred - latest version)
  • Firefox (latest version)
  • Safari is not recommended as it causes several known issues in onQ
  • Edge is not recommended as it causes several known issues in onQ

Internet Connection

  • Wired high speed access: Cable or better
  • Wifi is not recommended


  • Latest version

Media Player

  • Flash (latest version)

Adobe Reader

  • Latest Version


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Upcoming Application Dates section.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for Summer Term 2018 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Domestic students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $685.90; for a 6.0-unit course, $1371.80 See also Tuition and Fees.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

GPA Calculators
Have your SOLUS grade report handy and then follow the link to the Arts and Science GPA calculators.

How does this affect my academics?
See the GPA and Academic Standing page.

Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
Please follow this link to the FAQ's

Campus Bookstore

All textbooks can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.

Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.