Spring 2021 - URB 670 G100

Urban Research Methods (4)

Class Number: 4594

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM

    5:30 PM – 9:20 PM
    HCC 1900, Vancouver

    5:30 PM – 9:20 PM
    HCC 1900, Vancouver



Offers a tip-to-all approach to researching urban public policy problems, from imagining projects, to gathering interpreting data and presenting findings to the public. The emphasis of this program is for students to be able to understand the work of others and design their own studies. In addition to this, students are trained in how to apply descriptive statistics such as means, measures of spread and cross-tabulation. Students wishing to deepen their quantitative skills, such as multivariate, qualitative or spatial analysis, will be encouraged to take advanced programs offered in affiliated departments.


The objectives of this course are to: 

  • develop an understanding of urban research
  • explore the relationship between urban issues and research design and method choices
  • introduce a range of urban research methods, and
  • provide hands-on experience with a range of research tools and techniques.  
The course is structured in three parts:
  • Part 1 introduces research methods and develops an appreciation of the different ways of understanding urban conditions and processes. This section will be evaluated through a critical reflection (How would you research it?). You will also choose an urban place and issue for subsequent exercises.
  • Part 2 exposes a range of social research methods, tools, and techniques, as applied in the field of urban studies. These range from quantitative to qualitative methods, and include exposure to analytical software. This section will be evaluated through four exercises designed to give exposure to a range of data collection and analysis methods.
  • Part 3 considers research in practice, including topics such as evaluation research and mixed methods approaches. You will also submit your final research paper (How will you research it?) during this section of the course.


This course will use both synchronous meetings, where we meet together, and asynchronous content (discussion boards, etc.) that we will participate in outside of class time. We will use Canvas and Zoom; access to internet and a computer with camera and microphone will be required.

URB 670 has been approved for a few face-to-face meetings; these are planned to be held at Harbour Centre and at the Community Engaged Research initiative, based at 312 Main Street. Students will be expected to attend these where possible, and accommodation will be made where this is not possible. A schedule for this and all sessions will be available at the outset of the term.

Planned Face to Face Activities
Two face-to-face activities for this course are planned for January 14 and April 8.
Students should consider these plans and dates as tentative and subject to confirmation by the instructor in the course syllabus (which students will receive on the first day of classes) as well as subject to any provincial public health restrictions in effect at the time.


  • How would you research it assignment 10%
  • Urban indicators exercise 15%
  • Urban survey exercise 20%
  • Urban observation exercise 20%
  • Interview exercise 20%
  • How will you research it 15%



Many readings and other course materials will be available via Canvas. We will draw extensively from three books on sale in the bookstore:      

  • Babbie, E and Benaquisto, L. 2002/2009/2014/2018. Fundamentals of Social Research (1st–4th Canadian Editions). Scarborough: Thomson/Nelson. (The newest edition is preferred.)
  • Flowerdew, R. and Martin, D. (eds). 2005. Methods in Human Geography, 2nd Edition. New York: Prentice Hall
  • Tuhiwai Smith, Linda. 2012. Decolonizing Methodologies, 2nd edition. London: Zed Books

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 spring 2021 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).