Fall 2020 - URB 696 G100

Seminar in Urban Studies (4)

Class Number: 8135

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    15 or more units of coursework completed, including URB 670 with a grade of B+ or higher.



In-depth study of two or three areas of urban studies with particular attention to (1) the contributions of various disciplines and (2) the development of a proposal for research to explore a suitable area of particular interest to the student. Where feasible, students will be involved with external organizations in developing their research proposal.


URB 696 launches students on the research and writing of an original and independently executed M.Urb. project by seeing them through the development of a research proposal or prospectus. This prospectus will form the foundation for their M.Urb. projects.

Please note: By the beginning of URB 696 students are expected to have developed a M.Urb. topic and preliminary research question that both they and their senior supervisors have deemed appropriate and doable. This topic and question can evolve, but experience has shown that students who have done the necessary legwork before the beginning of this class and stick with their plan complete their degree more quickly and successfully than other students. 

While there’s no assigned reading for this class, students will be required to do a considerable amount of independent library research and reading specific to their project topic and question, as well as other challenging intellectual work involved in developing an independent research project. During the first half of the semester, they will also have to budget time to read and comment on other students’ work. In short, this course will most likely require students to devote more time to it week-to-week than their previous URB classes.

Students will be evaluated based on a number of writing assignments, including their evaluation of fellow students’ written work. Students will also be required to make a class presentation on their prospectus, which will then be submitted in written form as a 30-page document on the last day of class.

How this course will run (subject to minor revision based on instructor’s ongoing learning about the remote classroom)

  •  Synchronous elements

Based on feedback from Urban Studies students about remote teaching and learning, the synchronous aspect of this course will run via Zoom for two hours maximum, from 6:00-8:00 on Tuesday evenings. The two hours will be divided into two 55-minute sections, with a 10-minute break in between.  

During the last few weeks of the semester students will also be scheduled to make a presentation of their prospectus to a panel consisting of the instructor, the student’s senior supervisor, and an urban professional connected to the Urban Studies program (e.g. program advisor, senior alumnus/a, associated faculty member).

I will also be scheduling individual meetings with students throughout the semester.

  • Asynchronous elements

The asynchronous element of the course will include recorded lectures that students will watch prior to class, along with collaborative written commentary (via Canvas discussion board or an online document annotation system) of other students’ writing.


  • Reverse engineering of a M.URB thesis 10%
  • Critical assessment of other students' research prospectus components 15%
  • Review of key literature 20%
  • Presentation on research topics and methods 10%
  • 30-page research prospectus 40%
  • Class participation in synchronous research group discussions 5%


Students must complete all assignments in order to pass URB 696.

In addition to the graded assignments, the submission of project for research ethics approval is also an ungraded but required assignment for this class.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).