Programme Description

Urban Studies is a multidisciplinary field of study that offers students an in-depth understanding of cities, the processes that give rise to them, as well as their social and environmental consequences. Urbanisation is now of a scale and pace never before seen in human history and to understand society today, it is necessary to ask urban questions.
If you are a student who is curious about the city, enthralled by its architecture, energised by its culture, troubled by its social injustices, worried about its environmental harms, or enthusiastic about its economic and creative potentials, you will find a unique liberal arts opportunity in the Urban Studies major.
The Urban Studies major draws on the insights and approaches of a range of disciplines, including sociology, geography and environmental science, architecture and planning, political science, anthropology, economics and history. The programme takes full advantage of our location and offers field-based learning opportunities in Singapore and other parts of Asia.
Students may choose courses that offer breadth, or construct a pathway with the social sciences, humanities or environmental emphasis.
Students completing the Urban Studies major will:

  • Understand the processes of urbanisation from a range of perspectives (social, political, economic, cultural and environmental)
  • Be familiar with key theoretical frameworks for explaining and analysing urbanisation and urban society
  • Become familiar with a number of cities and urban forms – past and present, developed and less developed, planned and unplanned
  • Learn about urban policy and planning frameworks
  • Develop skills in spatial reasoning, including GIS and related modes of data gathering, analysis and visualisation
  • Gain practical experience through field-based, experiential learning
  • Acquire research and critical thinking skills that are transferable to a range of social, policy and community contexts

Students who major in Urban Studies may go on to pursue careers in the private and corporate sector, civil service, not-for-profit sector, and education sector. Urban Studies is well suited to those with interests in consulting and marketing, public policy, social work, international and community development, planning and architecture, heritage and tourism, real estate and infrastructure management.
Urban Studies students are well-prepared for graduate school, both in terms of academic and professional programmes. This includes disciplinary-defined, higher degree programmes in anthropology, sociology, development studies, human geography, environmental studies and urban studies. They are also prepared for professional higher degree training in architecture, planning, international development, social work, community development and public policy.
Structure of the Major
Students completing the Urban Studies major for Class of 2019 onwards will take 11 courses (54-55 MCs equivalent) including a final-year capstone project, which is equivalent to 10 MCs. Four of the 11 courses are required courses, as specified below. Two of the required courses are urban-related methods courses which should be taken before your senior capstone year, so you are well-prepared for the independent research required by the capstone. The remaining five courses comprise topical course electives, of which at least one should be a 4000-level course.
Four Required Courses

  • YSS2220 Adelaide to Zhuhai: Cities in a Comparative Perspective (ordinarily taken in Year 1 or 2)
  • YSS3222 Urban Theory (ordinarily taken in Year 2 or Year 3, and preferably before Year 4)
  • Methods course (with spatial reasoning tag)
  • Methods in the Social Sciences, or another methods course cross-listed to Urban Studies*

Five Topical Course Electives
Five Urban Studies topical courses, of which at least one should be an advanced 4000-level course.
Capstone: Urban Studio (taken in Year 4)
* Students are strongly recommended to take Methods in the Social Sciences in Year 3. An alternative methods course may be taken if it is cross-listed to Urban Studies and maps onto your capstone plans. Examples of such methods courses include: Ethnography, The Historian’s Craft, Econometrics, Documentary Photography.
Please discuss your course choices with your Advisor or Head of Study.
Urban Studies Minor
The minor in Urban Studies requires the completion of five courses, excluding the capstone. Students taking a minor must complete YSS2220 Adelaide to Zhuhai: Cities in a Comparative Perspective and YSS3222 Urban Theory.