First Year (all are required courses)

PLAN 501- Introduction and History of Planning                                     3 credits

This course begins with definitions of land use planning, traces through thousands of years of planning thought, and then shifts to the history of Canadian planning. The range of ideas that fall under the term “planning” are discussed.  This course necessarily addresses both theory and practice.

PLAN 502- Planning Theory and Policy                                                      3 credits

This course proceeds through the dynamic evolution of planning theory, touching on the philosophies and methodologies that have shaped the practice. It is established from the outset that there is no agreed upon “planning theory”; ideally the student will begin to understand their own approaches to planning.

PLAN 503- Ethics and the Public Good                                                       3 credits

This course investigates what is meant by the poorly understood term “the public good.”  The course reaches through millennia of philosophical thought and across the social sciences and humanities.  The second section of the course focuses on ethics and issues faced by practicing planners.

PLAN 504- Community Design (Parts I & II, each 3 credits)                    6 credits

This course will examine fundamentals in urban aesthetics, functionality, and design. Extensive field work (with the potential for field excursions out of the mid-Island area) will be required.  The urban and rural environments experienced as part of this course will act as “living labs” for course work and projects.

PLAN 505- Planning Law and Regulations                                                 3 credits

This course delves into the legal concepts and principles that must be understood by the practicing planner. An understanding of the legislation, regulations, and bylaws shaping the practice is the key outcome of this course.  The roles of decision-makers and citizens from a legal perspective are also examined. 

PLAN 506- Planning Practice                                                                       3 credits

This course explores the skills, knowledge, and experiences essential for the practicing planner.  The class will be involved in the evolution of a planning proposal, following it through from the development of the application to completion.  Projects from minor variances to mega projects will be considered. 

PLAN 507- Research Methods                                                                    3 credits

This course considers the qualitative and quantitative research methods required by the planner.  Social research methods such as interviews, observational research, survey development, and statistical analysis will be considered.  The student will be required to complete a research design applicable to their area of focus. 

Total credits in year 1:                                                                    24 credits

Second Year (required courses)

PLAN 601- Citizen Participation and Consultation                                  3 credits

Public consultation and the legislative requirements for public process are examined and methods for working with citizens’ groups and stakeholders are reviewed. Extensive class time will be spent on case studies and analyses of best practices for different consultation situations.

PLAN 602- Planning for Sustainability                                                      3 credits

This course examines theoretical frameworks and theories in sustainability at local, provincial, national, and global levels. The focus of this course is on improving the student’s understanding of issues relating to sustainability and ultimately to the transformational change that is needed in governance and land use planning.  Students will choose either a Major Project (9 credits) or Thesis (12 credits) option.

PLAN 690- Major Project                                                                            9 credits

A student may complete degree requirements with a professionally oriented project. The process and format for completion of the major project must meet all university requirements.  The student must pass an oral exam on the subject of the major project.  This course is graded pass/pass with revisions/fail. 

PLAN 691- Thesis                                                                                        12 credits

The thesis must show that the student has a mastery of their field of research.  The process and format for completion of the thesis must meet all university requirements.  The student must pass an oral exam on the subject of the thesis.  This course is graded pass/pass with revisions/fail. 

Additional credits required if registered in PLAN 690                                  9 credits
Additional credits required if registered in PLAN 691                                  6 credits

Total credits in year 2:                                                                   24 credits

Optional Courses are those that will be offered to enable students to fulfill degree requirements.  Both of the following courses will be offered in every calendar year:

PLAN 508 – Field Studies (1), 509 (II), and 510 (III)                                 3 credits each

An intensive field-based study of community/urban planning issues in a specific region of interest.  Topics will vary, but will typically include built landscapes, city systems, urban design, sustainability, urban morphology, socio-economic issues, and environmental aesthetics.  International travel may be required. PLAN 508 can be offered as a stand-alone 3 credit field school, or can be combined with 509 and 510 to create a 6 or 9 credit field school.

PLAN 603- Fundamentals of GIS                                                               3 credits

This course covers the theory, history, and use of GIS for the planner.  It is intended for students with limited experience in GIS who wish to gain a basic understanding of the use of spatial data.  Students holding a VIU ADGIS may not take this course for credit.   

PLAN 604- Literature of Planning                                                             3 credits

This course is an intensive reading program on the key texts in land use planning.  The course will allow the student to hone skills in analysis and advance the student’s understanding of theories, practices, the evolution of planning thought, and current issues in the profession.

Other optional courses will be offered in every calendar year (beginning in the second year of the program). Students may take one or more of these courses, again depending on their research interests.  These courses are designed to round-out the experiences offered to the student through the program, and will be offered depending on faculty availability.  Generally, these courses will be taught by sessional or adjunct professors with expertise in a specialized knowledge area: course content will be established by the instructor. 

PLAN 620- Topics in First Nations Land Use and Community Planning    3 credits

An examination of the historic and current issues relevant to First Nations land use and community planning.  Topics will vary by offering but will focus on subjects of significance to the profession and practice.  The course may not be repeated for credit.

PLAN 621- Topics in Design and Aesthetics                                            3 credits

This special topic course focuses on architecture, urban design, and the aesthetics of rural and urban spaces and places.  Topics will vary by offering but will focus on subjects of significance to the profession and practice.  The course may not be repeated for credit.

PLAN 622- Topics in Municipal and Regional Planning                         3 credits

This special topic course focuses on the local governments and the issues that will be faced by the practicing planner.  Topics will vary by offering but will focus on politics and problems relevant to the profession. The course may not be repeated for credit.

PLAN 623- Topics in Evolving Issues in Planning                                    3 credits

A thorough examination of an important present-day issue, trend, or concept in community and land use planning. Topics will vary by offering but will focus on a subject of significance to the profession and practice.  The course may not be repeated for credit.

Students may take one or more of these courses, again depending on their research interests. 

PLAN 624- Issues in Community Planning                                              1 credit

These are short-term courses focused on a specific issue or aspect of planning and/or a related discipline.  The contact time for these courses will range from 12 to 15 hours, enabling the course to be completed over 2-3 days, several evenings, or through a weekend offering. All courses will include a component titled “relationship to planning”.  Lab or field components may be included in the course requirements.  Topics will vary, but will include:

  • Project Management
  • Archeological Assessment
  • Retail Planning
  • Vector Works/CAD
  • Project Economics
  • Presentation Graphics
  • Planning for Community Amenities
  • Community servicing issues
  • Community Water Planning
  • Stormwater Management
  • Project Financing
  • Approval Processes
  • Negotiation and Mediation
  • Social Enterprise
  • Economic Development
  • Emergency Planning
  • Real Estate Practice
  • Asset Management
  • Food Systems
  • Liquid Waste Management
  • Alternative Transportation
  • Planning and Digital Media

Students may take a maximum of three of these courses, again depending on their research interests. 

In addition, the program will offer two annual field school experiences:

Domestic Field School                                                                              3 credits

Generally taking place over Spring Break, this is an intensive field-based study of a specific domestic region (Canada or US). Topics will vary, but will typically include architecture, urban design, landscapes, history, socio-economic pressures, and environmental aesthetics.  May be repeated once for credit.

International Field School                                                                      6 or 9 credits

Generally taking place in May/June, this is a field-based study of a specific international region. Topics will vary, but will typically include architecture, urban design, landscapes, history, socio-economic pressures, and environmental aesthetics.  International travel will be required. 

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