Concentrations in Planning

The elective component of the MScPl program complements the core curriculum through advanced work in one of the six areas of concentration. The chosen concentration often provides an opportunity to build on the student’s undergraduate education, and anticipates the direction he or she will take in professional life.

Each concentration includes several courses which are designed to give a general introduction to the concentration and to permit the development of particular interests within it. Students must, in consultation with their advisors, select at least four half-courses within their chosen concentration, including those designated as mandatory. Students may elect to pursue two concentrations, with the approval of the Planning Director. In this case, double counting of some elective courses may be allowed.

In their plan of study at the end of the first year, students are also asked to identify the subject of their Current Issues Paper (PLA 1107Y). While for accounting purposes this course is considered part of the core curriculum, its subject matter represents a significant part of the student’s area of concentration.

Similarly, concentration themes are usually offered in the Workshop in Planning Practice (PLA 1106H).

For further information about each concentration, please consult the links below:

Economic Development Planning

This concentration is concerned with policies and programs that improve livelihoods, create wealth, and increase economic opportunity. Economic development planners work at multiple spatial scales – from the local to the transnational – and in the public, private, and non-profit/social sectors. They are expected to be able to assess how socio-economic, political, and technological forces produce disparities in employment and investment between sectors and locations, and to recommend contextually appropriate strategies in response. These include traditional approaches, such as workforce development programs, incentives, business improvement areas, cluster strategies, and innovation ecosystem development, as well as heterodox community economic development models, from anchor institution strategies to the incubation of community and worker-owned enterprises.

Students choosing this concentration should select at least four half-courses, including the required gateway graduate survey overview of the field. 

  • PLA1525H: Urban, Regional, and Community Economic Development.

Recommended Elective Courses:

  • JGE1425H: Livelihoods, Poverty and Environment in the Developing Countries
  • JPG 1426H: Natural Resources, Differences & Conflict
  • JPG 1502H: Global Urbanism and Cities of the Global South 
  • JPG 1504H: Institutionalism and Cities: Space, Governance, Property & Power
  • JPG1507H: Housing Markets and Housing Policy Analysis
  • PLA1510H: Special Topics: Public Finance for Planners
  • PLA1516H: Special Topics: Anti-Imperialism and Planning
  • JPG1516H: Urban Problems
  • JPG 1518H: Sustainability and Urban Communities 
  • JPG1520H: Contested Geographies of Class/Race Formation
  • JPG 1522H: Production of Space
  • JPG 1607H: Geography of Competition 
  • JPG1615H: Planning the Social Economy
  • JPG1616H: The Cultural Economy
  • JPG 1617H: Organization of Economies & Cities
  • PLA1651H: Real Estate Development
  • JPG 1660H: Regional Dynamics
  • PLA1703H: Transportation & Planning Infrastructure
  • PLA 1801H: Urban Infrastructure Planning 
  • JPG1809H: Spaces of Work: Value, Identity, Agency, Justice
  • JPG 1812Y: Planning for Change
  • JPG 1814H: Cities and Immigrants

**As courses on offer vary from year to year, please check with the Concentration Adviser and review the course timetable for relevant available courses.

Students could also take at least one course outside the department and are encouraged to explore course offerings in OISE’s Adult Education and Community Development program, Political Science, Economics, the Centre for Industrial Relations, and Human Resources (CIRHR), Industrial Engineering, and Management.

Advisor: Jason Spicer

Environmental Planning

This concentration aims to provide an understanding of the environmental factors and processes that affect, or are affected by, nearly all planning decisions, and to prepare planners to pursue sustainable development, manage natural resources and human-nonhuman environmental relations, conduct environmental impact assessments, and craft just environmental plans and policies to adapt to the growing impacts of climate change. Environmental planners work at multiple scales and across sectors with local, regional, and provincial governments, federal agencies, conservation authorities, non-governmental organizations, community groups, and activist movements, integrating plural worldviews and interdisciplinary knowledge in practice.

Students in this concentration will be exposed to traditional environmental planning approaches as well as critical alternatives that seek to dismantle the legacies of environmental racism and injustice. Examples will be drawn from practical experiences in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area (GTHA) as well as other areas in Canada and around the world. Previous course work or experiences in environmental studies and planning are desirable but not required of students entering this concentration.

Students choosing this concentration should select at least four half-courses, including the required gateway course:

  • PLA1601H: Introduction to Environmental Planning and Policy

(formerly listed as “Climate Change and Resilience: Planning and Policy”)

and at least two courses from the following list:

  • JGE1425H Livelihoods, Poverty and Environment in the Developing Countries
  • GGR1411H Nature and Justice in the Anthropocene
  • GGR1422H The Geography of Urban Air Pollution
  • JPG1426H Natural Resources, Difference and Conflict
  • JPG1428H Greening the City: Urban Environmental Planning and Management
  • JPG1429H Political Ecology of Food and Agriculture
  • ENV1444H Capitalist Nature (Contact School for the Environment for enrolment)
  • JSE1708H Sustainability and the Western Mind (Contact Munk Global Affairs program for enrolment)

Students are also strongly encouraged to explore course offerings and collaborative specializations (in Environmental Studies or Environment and Health) at the School of the Environment or at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. Since course offerings vary from year to year, students should check with the Concentration Adviser and review the course timetable for available courses that speak to their interests.

Advisor: Nidhi Subramanyam

Social Planning and Policy

This concentration focuses on how a range of organizations (both government and non-government) attempt to create more humane and equitable societies in the contemporary context of restructuring policy regimes. It encompasses a wide range of topics from the analysis of the objectives, institutions, policies and decision-making processes of the modern welfare state to the methods for, and dilemmas of the creation of a commons, the planning of social economies, and planning with people for specific services to meet specific needs.

Students may choose to focus on a variety of issues including (but not limited to) programs, policy and community initiatives developed by and for marginalized groups; local, regional, national, and supranational political and economic contexts which shape and, to a lesser extent, are shaped by policy frameworks; the institutional framework of social planning; anti-racist and de-colonial approaches to addressing social issues; and planning for neighborhood services.

Students will select at least four half-courses in consultation with the concentration advisor, including a gateway required course for social planning concentration

  • JPG1813H: Planning and Social Policy

Recommended Elective Courses:

  • PLA1516H: Special Topics: Anti-Imperialism and Planning
  • JPG 1426H: Natural Resources, Differences & Conflict
  • JPG 1502H: Global Urbanism and Cities of the Global South 
  • JPG 1504H: Institutionalism and Cities: Space, Governance, Property & Power
  • JPG 1506H: State/Space/Difference
  • JPG 1507H: Housing Markets and Housing Policy Analysis
  • JPG 1512H: Place, Politics and the Urban 
  • JPG 1525H: Urban, Regional and Community Economic Development
  • JPG 1516H: Urban Problems
  • JPG 1518H: Sustainability and Urban Communities 
  • JPG 1520H: Contested Geographies of Class/Race Formation 
  • JPG 1522H: Production of Space
  • JPG 1615H: Planning and the Social Economy
  • JPG 1616H: Cultural Economy
  • JPG 1672H: Land and Justice
  • JPG 1706H: Geographies of Violence and Security
  • JPG 1805H: Transnationalism, Diaspora and Gender 
  • JPG 1809H: Spaces of Work
  • JPG 1812Y: Planning for Change 
  • JPG 1814H: Cities and Immigrants
  • JPG1820H: Disability and the City
  • JPG 1825H: Black Geographies 
  • JPG 1835H: Anti-colonial Planning 
  • GGR1822H: Queer Geographies

Because of the strengths of other university departments in substantive social policy fields, students in this concentration will be expected to enroll in at least one course outside of the Planning Program, and are encouraged explore course offerings in OISE’s Adult Education and Community Development program, Political Science, Anthropology and the School of Social Work.

Advisor: Kuni Kamizaki

Urban Design and Spatial Planning

This concentration will prepare MScPl students to practice as planners with specialist knowledge in theories and methods of urban design. Students selecting this field will complete foundational coursework in urban design theory, history, studios and workshops, supplemented by further electives drawn from a wide range of possible courses in the department and beyond.

Students electing the urban design field of concentration will be required to take a total of four half-courses, including the two required courses:

  • PLA1652H: Introductory Studio in Urban Design and Planning
  • PLA 1655H: Urban Design and Development Controls  OR PLA 1656H: Land Use Planning

Recommended Elective Courses:

  • PLA 1650H: Urban Design: History, Theory, Criticism 
  • PLA1651H: Real Estate Development
  • PLA 1653H: Advanced Studio in Urban Design and Planning (pre-requisite PLA1652H)
  • PLA 1655H: Urban Design and Development Controls 
  • JPG 1522H: Production of Space
  • PLA1552H: Management for Planners
  • PLA 1702H: Pedestrians/Streets/Public Space
  • JPG1820H: Disability and the City
  • URD 1501H: Implementing the Missing Middle 1 (Architecture course)
  • URD 1502H:  Implementing the Missing Middle 2 (Architecture course)
  • URD 9901H: Selected Topics in Urban Design: Engagement (Architecture course)

Advisor: Paul Hess 

Transportation Planning and Infrastructure

Transportation and infrastructure are two very important aspects of the planned environment. They are central to the development of healthy sustainable urban places, and also have important implications for the social and physical environments of places outside of the ecumene. This concentration within the MScPl program focusses on developing the capacity in students to understand the dynamic relationship between social, economic and environmental sustainability and the planning, implementation and maintenance of transportation and other forms of physical infrastructure.
To complete this concentration, in addition to the core courses that all MScPl students must complete, this concentration requires that students ALSO complete four half- courses including the two required courses:

  • JPG 1400H: Advanced Quantitative Methods
  • PLA 1703H: Transportation Planning and Infrastructure

And two courses from the following list:

  • PLA1552H: Management for Planners
  • JPG1428H: Greening the City: Urban Environmental Planning and Management
  • JPG1554H: Transportation and Urban Form
  • JPG1820H: Disability and the City
  • PLA 1702H: Pedestrians/Streets/Public Space

Advisor: Matti Siemiatycki

No concentration, breadth requirement option

This option reflects well the interdisciplinarity and generalist nature of the planning profession. Students that would like to pursue a no-concentration option are required to take a breadth requirement in the form of three gateway courses to the other concentrations.

  • PLA1525H: Urban, Regional and Community Economic Development
  • PLA1601H: Introduction to Environmental Planning and Policy
  • PLA1652H: Introductory Studio in Urban Design and Planning
  • PLA1656H: Land Use Planning
  • PLA1703H: Transportation Planning and Infrastructure
  • JPG1813H: Planning and Social Policy

Advisor: Katharine Rankin