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Home » Undergraduate Programs » Cities, Regions, Planning (BES)

Cities, Regions, Planning (BES)

We live in an urban world. Cities and city-regions around the globe face pressing social and environmental challenges linked to the climate crisis, emerging infectious disease, global displacement and migration, and deepening inequalities and racial divides. But cities are also the places where solutions to these problems can be found. In Cities, Regions, Planning, you learn to apply inclusive and sustainable planning interventions, consulting skills, governance and political procedures and activist tools to manage urban growth (and decline), provide infrastructure, integrate newcomers, and mitigate environmental impacts.

The Cities, Regions, Planning program examines how cities and regions may be planned in more just and sustainable ways through three thematic concentrations:

  • Urban Worlds - engages with different ways of being in cities around the planet to consider how urban residents live, work and play in a rapidly changing global geography of interconnected urban places.
  • Urban Planning and Politics - deals with the institutions, actors, struggles and processes that help create and govern communities, cities, regions, and urban networks.
  • Urban Political Ecology - focuses on the role of nature and environment in the process of urbanization, urban form and urban life. 
Cityscape of Toronto buildings from Riverdale Park. Photo credit: L. Piccone, 2021

Taught by internationally recognized urban scholars and planning practitioners, students acquire the foundational knowledge, critical thinking and technical skills to create tangible change in urban, suburban and regional environments. Students engage with communities in Toronto, across Canada and abroad gaining hands-on experiences of processes of urban transformations, community-based initiatives and design and policy challenges. 

Students will explore these critical urban issues:

  • Processes of urbanization and city life
  • The regional composition of the global economy
  • Planning theory and practice
  • Urban and regional planning
  • Urban infrastructures and mobility
  • Urban health and pandemic preparedness
  • Suburbanization, growth control and conservation
  • Urban analytics and geomatics
  • Urban wildlife and habitats
  • Urban risk and resilience
  • Public participation in planning and governance
  • Urban inequalities, gentrification and segregation
  • Urban ecologies
  • Communities and urban life
Group of EUC students discussing the lay out of the York University Keele campus.

This program is supported by the CITY Institute at York University, a leading interdisciplinary centre that facilitates critical and collaborative research and provides new knowledge and innovative approaches to understanding and addressing the complexity of the urban arena.

Program Details

4 years

Full time and some part time

Fall, Winter and Summer entry

Bachelor in Environmental Studies (BES)

Curriculum Highlights

First year core courses

  • The Land We’re On: Treaties, art and environment
  • The World Today: Introduction to World Geography
  • Weather and Climate
  • The Dynamic Earth
  • Cities, Regions and Planning in a Globalizing World

Sample upper year courses

  • Global Urban Geography
  • Urban Planning and Politics
  • Urban Political Ecology
  • Urbanization in Developing Countries
  • Designing Sustainable cities
  • Urban Consulting Practice

Hands-on Learning and Field Study

  • Urban and Regional Infrastructures. In this course, students will complete a two-week intensive study of Toronto or another Canadian city on location in the field.
  • On location: Urban placemaking and the spatial politics of difference. In this course, students learn through immersive on-site fieldtrips and activities, walking tours, guest talks, and discussions in public spaces and community venues across the city, providing students with a first-hand experience of the struggles, controversies, and possibilities of place-making practices.
  • Urban Consulting Practice. In this 4th year course, students will have hands-on experience with partners in public and private urban planning practice and civil society organizations. The course will develop skill training in negotiation, consulting and community participation.
  • Work Placement with private or public organization, agency or ENGOs.
  • Semester Abroad at the Las Nubes EcoCampus in Costa Rica

Career Possibilities

With increased urbanization around the world, the need to address issues within cities including those of equity, sustainability, policy, and environment are at the forefront of many governments, businesses, and organizations.  Along with the development of practical, hands-on experiences, you will hone in-demand skills in critical thinking, communication, project management and coordination.  Our graduates are working in both the public and private sector in a variety of fields including government, business, land use planning, policy, non-profit, and transportation.

Some sample careers include:

  • Urban, Land Use or Transportation Planner
  • Policy Advisor and Consultant
  • LEED Technical Coordinator
  • Transit Supervisor or Manager
  • Permits and Approvals Coordinator
  • Environmental Manager
  • Planning and Space Assessor

To help you succeed, our Experiential Education Coordinator provides a variety of career support services to our students including resume help, interview prep, and career planning workshops, and maintains an exclusive job board just for our students

Additional Details

Admission Requirements

Please note that meeting the minimum academic requirements is not a guarantee of admission. More information is available on the York University Admission Requirements page.

  • ENG4U
  • Mid to high 70s
  • Grade 12 English
  • Mid to high 70s
  • Overall average of 3.0 on a 4-point scale (or equivalent)
  • Overall average of 2.3 on a 4-point scale (or equivalent)

How to Apply

Deadlines can be found on the York university Future Students website.

  1. Complete an Online Application Form.
  2. Pay the application fee.
  3. Submit supporting documents through the York University online portal, MyFile.
    • Within four business days of application, you will receive a confirmation email with your nine-digit student reference number, which will allow you to access your MyFile account and upload your documents.
    • It is important to check your MyFile regularly for any documents you are required to submit and updates to the status of your application.
    • More information about supporting documents, document processing times and decision processing times is available on the I’ve Applied page.