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Introduction to Urban Geography

Course Code: GEOG 3361
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

Cities are the largest human artifacts, but how do they emerge and evolve? What are the similarities and differences between cities? Why is the Central Business District of some cities thriving while others decline? These and many other questions are examined by urban geographers. Geography 3361 will explore and analyze the various aspects, concepts and approaches of urban geography. The course will cover topics such as historic and contemporary urban development; spatial dimensions of the city; social and economic patterns; images of the city; inequality and the development of urban built environment. Canadian and global urban patterns and future developments will be explored.

Course Content

  1. Introduction
    a)     The nature of urban geography and paradigm shifts
    b)     Definition of urban centres/cities
  2. Historic Development of Cities
    a)      Ancient and Classical cities
    b)      Medieval and baroque cities, including colonial variations
    c)       Industrial and Modern cities
    d)      Post-industrial and emerging cities
  3. Cities and Economic Development
  4. Systems of Cities
    a)      Central Place Theory and other models
  5. Internal Structure of the City
    a)      Classic models of the city
    b)      Contemporary models of the city
    c)       New urban order, gentrification and the inner city
    d)      Suburbanization and land use conflicts
    e)       Planning issues
  6. Land use, urban transportation and housing
    a)      Institutional processes, politics and the development industry
  7. Social aspects of urbanization
    a)      Gender
    b)      Ethnicity
    c)       Other social processes (class, race and age)
  8. City as Image and Perception
  9. Urban Ecological Issues
  10. World Urban Patterns and Processes
  11. Urban Futures
  12. Conclusion
    a) Urban geography in a globalizing world

Methods of Instruction

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following: 

  •  lectures
  •  small group discussions
  •  visual presentations – DVDs and videos
  •  individual and team projects and/or presentations
  •  field assignments
  •  practical in-class exercises

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based on course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific criteria during the first week of classes.

An example of a possible evaluation scheme would be:

Assignments  10%
Field assignments          10%
Tests  55%
Term project  20%
Participation   5%
Total 100%

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Collect, display and analyze geographical data using a variety of techniques.
  2. Explain the concepts and models of the development, function and distribution of cities.
  3. Analyze the internal structure of cities using appropriate techniques, models and theories.
  4. Examine and explain the impact of class, gender, ethnicity and other characteristics on the perception of and interaction with urban spaces.
  5. Compare and contrast the development of cities in North America and the rest of the world.
  6. Describe the origin and historic development of North American cities.
  7. Analyze the processes of suburbanization and gentrification and their contemporary characteristics.
  8. Describe the development and implications of the urban built environment and landscape.
  9. Explain how public and private sector organizations influence the planning and development of cities.
  10. Assess the challenges confronting developing or peripheral cities and possible solutions.
  11. Conduct and properly report on field based research.

course prerequisites

GEOG 1100

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.