Planning Core Curriculum

The MSc. Pl Program offers a fully accredited Master’s degree to suit the needs of students intent on working as planners or pursuing doctoral studies in planning or related fields. The structure of this curriculum consists of a required set of core courses and a broad range of elective courses; students may elect from among five Concentrations in Planning, or a generalist option that established a breadth of planning knowledge:

  • Economic Development Planning 
  • Environmental Planning 
  • Generalist Option
  • Social Planning and Policy
  • Transportation Planning and Infrastructure 
  • Urban Design

While the purpose of the core curriculum is to provide students with the kinds of knowledge considered essential to the education of a planner (history, theory, criticism, methods, skills), the six areas of concentrations offer the opportunity for more in-depth study related to their future work. 

Core Curriculum Courses

The Planning curriculum consists of 16 half-courses (8 credits), which full-time students complete within two academic years (four semesters), usually by taking four-half courses per semester, along with a Summer Internship between the two years. The Program also admits part-time students, who are expected to fulfill all requirements for the degree within 6 years of first enrollment. 

Out of the 16 half-courses (8 credits), the core curriculum accounts for 9 half-courses (6 half-courses and one full-course, the Current Issues Paper), that is, 1.0 credits – as explained below. The Concentration in Planning requires a further 5 half-courses. These requirements leave students with space for three more electives – 3 half-courses or 1 full course + one half-course – that may be taken from any Graduate Unit in the University. 

The Core Curriculum, which is required of all students, begins with PLA1101H Planning History, Thought and Practice, a critical examination of the historical legacy, philosophical underpinnings and normative questions that shape contemporary planning practice.

PLA 1103H Legal Basis of Planning will provide students with an overview of planning law as it is constituted by different levels of government, administrative tribunals and the courts.

PLA 1102H Planning Methods I and PLA 1105H Planning Methods II introduce students to a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods of research and evaluation frequently employed in planning practice.

Taken together, these four first-year core courses, while covering knowledge essential to all kinds of planning practice, also provide students with a foundation for work in their Specialization in Planning and second-year Core Courses: PLA 1106H Workshop in Planning Practice and PLA 1107Y Current Issues Paper.

The Workshop enables students to apply the fruits of their education in history, theory and methods to a range of exemplary planning problems and projects in the real world. The Current Issues Paper, which is likewise focused on the practice of planning via consultation with an outside, professional advisor (under the supervision of two faculty, at least one of whom must be appointed in the Planning Program or Geography Department), allows students to undertake original research within their Concentration in Planning – often with a view to future work.

PLA 1520H Project Management and Conflict resolution is also a core course but can be taken in either year 1 or year 2. It is up to students to decide.

Program Structure

The basic structure of the Planning Program consisting of core courses and electives (which fulfill the requirements of Concentrations in Planning as explained below) is as follows:

First Semester (fall)

PLA 1101H Planning History, Thought and Practice
PLA 1102H Planning Methods I

Second Semester (spring)

PLA1103H Legal Basis of Planning
PLA1105H Planning Methods II
Elective or PLA1520H

[Summer Internship and Plan of Study]

Third Semester (fall)

PLA 1106H Workshop in Planning Practice
PLA 1107Y Current Issues Paper

Fourth Semester (spring)

PLA 1107Y Current Issues Paper
Elective or PLA1520H

Almost all of the courses in the Planning Program are half courses (H), which last one term and are worth 0.5 credits—with one significant exception. PLA 1107Y Current Issues Paper is a full course (Y) that continues through both terms from September to April; this is also a core course required for all students.

For course descriptions and schedules, please consult the department’s course information and timetables.