Urban Studies and Planning Courses

To view current course offerings visit Testudo; for more detailed information on courses, please visit University of Maryland's Undergraduate and Graduate Course Catalogs.


URSP 118 Selected Topics in Urban Planning (3 Credits)
Selected Topic courses address particular issues relating to urban studies and planning. They are focused on specific areas of theory and practice as they relate to the study of urban areas.


URSP 250 - Sustainable City: Exploring Opportunities & Challenges (3 Credits)
An exploration, through an interdisciplinary approach, of a number of issues related to making cities more sustainable in terms of environmental protection, economic opportunity, and social justice. The course assists students to develop skills in critical analysis and systems thinking and to use those skills in analyzing sustainability related problems and potential solutions, and to expand students' understanding of the political implications of crafting and moving towards a sustainable urban future.


URSP 372 Diversity and the City (3 Credits)
Exploration of the different needs of diverse economic, racial/ethnic, and gender groups that live and work in cities, the historical background of differences, the impact of societal structures and group cultures, and how public and private policies do and can affect different groups.


URSP399 Independent Study in Urban Topics (3 Credits)
Directed research and study of selected aspects of urban affairs.


URSP488 Selected Topics in Urban Studies (3 Credits)
Topics of special interest to advanced urban studies students.


URSP 600 - Research Design and Application (3 Credits)
Techniques in urban research, policy analysis, and planning. Survey of descriptive and normative models. Objective and subjective measurements. Emphasis on assumptions of research.


URSP 601 - Research Methods (3 Credits)
Use of measurement, statistics, quantitative analysis, and micro-computers in urban studies and planning.


URSP 603 - Land Use Planning: Concepts & Techniques (3 Credits)
Land use concepts and definitions: legal context for planning; markets and planning; planning for housing; community services, employment, utilities, and transportation; zoning; subdivision regulations; growth management; plan implementation.


URSP 604 - Planning Process (3 Credits)
Legal framework for U.S. planning; approaches to the planning process; tools and technology; systems thinking; defining problems and issues; soliciting goals and values; developing and making good presentations; public participation; developing and evaluating alternatives and scenarios; plan evaluation; developing RFPs.


URSP 605  - Planning History and Theory (3 Credits)
Examination of key, selected major events and issues in U.S. planning history and the development of the [planning profession; exploration of major themes in planning theory and practical applications of them; and analysis of the relationship of history and theory.


URSP 606 - Planning Economics (3 Credits)
Resource allocation in a market economy, the nature of market failures, and the justifications for public sector intervention. The limits and possibilities for planning in a market economy.


URSP 631 - Transportation and Land Use (3 Credits)
The interrelationship between transportation and land use. What are the impacts of various transportation modes on land use patterns, and how can land use solutions influence travel demand. The integration of transportation into master planning and site impact analysis. Using quantitative methods to understand the land use and transportation linkage.


URSP 640 - Growth Management and Environmental Planning (3 Credits)
Topics associated with growth management, defined as policies and strategies by which governments attempted to control the amount, location, pace, pattern and quality of development within their jurisdictions.


URSP 661-  City and Regional Economic Development Planning (3 Credits)
Spatial patterns of employment and populations, and models of urban and regional growth and decline. Focus on application of economic theory and urban planning techniques to issues of local economic development and planning.


URSP 673 - Community Development (3 Credits)
Examines and identifies planning approaches and methods that can help communities - particularly low income communities - become stronger, more cohesive, and more capable of serving their interests. Examines urban poverty; urban politics; history, concepts and practice of community development; and community development approaches and methods.


URSP 688A - Recent Dev. in Urban Studies; Community Resilience (3 Credits)
This course will provide introduction to the concept of resilience, particularly as it relates to supporting community resilience through hazard mitigation, adaption, and disaster recovery planning. This course will explore, through a multihazard approach, the necessary connection between recovery and mitigation. This course will highlight the concept of social vulnerability and the insidious ways in which some groups are disadvantaged in their ability to resist, adapt to, respond to, and recover from natural hazards and environmental threats.


URSP 688B - Urban Infrastructure Planning and Public Works (3 Credits)
This course aims to introduce the range of infrastructure systems that serve urban development and the basics of how to develop an infrastructure plan, program, or project.


URSP 688C - Recent Developments in Urban Studies; International Development Planning (3 Credits)
Explores current issues and trends in urbanization and planning in cities in Japan, China, South Korea and other countries.


URSP 688E - Recent Developments in Urban Studies; Zoning and Land Use Plan Implementation (3 Credits)
An introduction to zoning and its relationship to land use planning, placing emphasis on the legal context that shapes zoning practice, particularly in the state of Maryland is provided. Additionally, addresses terminology, legal context, zoning ordinance interpretation, the role of various constituencies in the zoning process, and the relationship between the zoning ordinance and the comprehensive plan. It will also feature exercises and applied projects designed to convey course concepts through experiential learning.


URSP 688K - Recent Developments in Urban Studies; Urban Design Software (3 Credits)
Practical training in the use of such urban design software as Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, AutoCAD and SketchUp.


URSP 688L - Recent Dev. in Urban Studies; Planning Technology (3 Credits)
An introduction to technologies that are vital for contemporary planners. With a strong emphasis on practical skills, the course will provide students with fundamental concepts, hands-on experience and real-world applications of such urban planning technologies as web publishing and tools, search engine optimization, blogs, Twitter and social networking, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), data visualization, 3D modeling, mash-ups, digital design tools, web surveys, photo/video sharing (web/video conferencing), and crowdsourcing.


URSP 688M - Recent Dev. in Urban Studies; Intermediate Geographic Information Systems (3 Credits)
GIS and its application to urban planning. Topics include: thematic mapping, GIS data structure, spatial analysis, Internet GIS, using census data to study urban areas, and examples of urban GIS application. Weekly laboratory and project work use ArcGIS software.


URSP 688N - Recent Dev. in Urban Studies; Urban Transportation Planning & Policy (3 Credits)
Introduction to theory and concepts useful in transportation policy making and planning, with emphasis on economics and finance.  Development of  basic understanding of transportation modeling and forecasting.


URSP 688O - Recent Dev. in Urban Studies; US Housing Policy and Planning (3 Credits)
Critical appraisal of U.S. housing policy in terms of production and allocation of housing services. An historical overview of federal, state, and local policy, followed by analysis of the organizational infrastructure around which housing is produce.


URSP 688P- Recent Dev. in Urban Studies; Preserving Community Value of Ethnically Diverse Retail Centers (3 Credits)
Building on the previous retail trends study, students enrolled in this course will identify how to preserve and enhance the value of these ethnic retail centers and how to support equitable access to their diverse mix of retail goods and services. Many centers face pressures for change and redevelopment. As such, the study will first provide an overview of the geographic distribution of the County s ethnic retail clusters, a history of their growth and development, the communities they serve, and the social value they contribute. The study will then focus on the well-established ethnic retail clusters in Montgomery County to identify successes and challenges to develop targeted strategies that consider the impact of planned development such as the Purple Line.


URSP 688X - Recent Dev. in Urban Studies; Planning, Policy and Pub. Education (3 Credits)
This course explores the historical and contemporary interrelationships among metropolitan policy, planning practice, and public education. The course engages interdisciplinary scholarship, case studies, and guest speakers. It examines issues such as: school, neighborhood, and metropolitan segregation; schools as centers of community; school siting and land use; school facility planning and management; school transportation; education reform and school choice; school closures.


URSP  688Y - Recent Dev. in Urban Studies; Smart Cities and Urban Data Science (3 Credits)
The proliferation of data, technology and new analytical methods are changing cities in rapid and dramatic fashion. These changes have implications for the look and feel of cities, the behavior patterns of the people who inhabit them, and the decisions made by people who govern them. As cities become smarter, our understanding of them must evolve in a similar fashion. This course will introduce students to the concept of Smart Cities and their implications for the current and future development of urban areas. Students will learn about the history of urban development and when cities gained their sentience, how cities learn and grow their intelligence, and how these trends shape the lives of urban and rural dwellers alike. The course begins by introducing the "components" of the smart city: new and novel data sources (embedded sensor networks, crowdsourcing), new methods of (connected devices, machine learning, data science), and new ways of modeling, simulating, and visualizing urban phenomena. The second half of the course discusses how these components are changing the performance and experience of different aspects of urban life inareas like transportation, public health, criminal justice, and social equity.


URSP 688Z - Recent Dev. in Urban Studies; Planning & Design in the Multicultural Metropolis (3 Credits)
Explores the changing patterns of immigration and ethno-cultural diversity that are shaping new geographies of race and immigration, and the various forms, meanings, and uses of urban space; explores strategies for improving planning processes, policies, built spaces, and the culture of planning to support an appreciation of and right to difference in the city and the ethical and equitable treatment for all residents.


URSP 705 - Summer Community Planning Studio I (4 Credits)
Intensive community planning group field work, typically five days a week for four weeks. Often outside the USA. Application of class work to actual planning and policy challenges. Students seeking to meet the URSP studio requirement must also take URSP 706.


URSP 706 - Summer Community Planning Studio II (2 Credits)
Intensive analysis and report-preparation of work completed in URSP 705. Held in College Park. Students seeking to meet the URSP studio requirement must also take URSP 705.


URSP 708 - Community Planning Studio (6 Credits)
The Community Planning Studio is a "capstone" course intended to provide students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to analyze current, pressing planning issues, in a selected community and to produce a report containing recommendations for addressing those issues. In essence, students act as a consulting team for a community client.


URSP 709 - Field Instruction (3 Credits)
Students will satisfy a 300-hour internship (20 hours for 15 weeks during the spring, 25 hours a week for 12 weeks during the summer). Suitable internships are approved by the Internship Coordinator or Instructor; they involve a significant amount of planning work (preferably in the student's area of interest) and provide an appropriate on-site supervisor. The Internship Coordinator will assist students in finding a suitable internship, but the ultimate responsibility rests with each student. Whether the internship is paid or not is a matter to be worked out between the student and the organization.


URSP 788 - Independent Study in Urban Studies and Planning (1 - 3 Credits) 
An advanced research seminar for M.C.P. students.


URSP 798 - Readings in Urban Studies and Planning (1 - 3 Credits) 


URSP 799 - Master's Thesis Research (1 - 6 Credits) 
An advanced research seminar for M.C.P. students preparing for their thesis.


URSP 804 -  Advanced Planning Theory (3 Credits)
Ph.D. level course on relations between theory and practice in planning. Ways of developing and using knowledge in collective action. Challenges to organizing for planning, finding knowledge useful for planning and balancing social attachments with free inquiry.


URSP 805 - Seminar in Research Design (3 Credits)
Addresses fundamental aspects of research design for Ph.D. students in urban planning and policy-related fields. Topics include principles of research design, formulating a feasible hypothesis and identifying appropriate methodology for testing hypotheses eg. qualitative methods, quantitative methods, survey research. Writing of proposals and dissertation. Publication, presentation, and funding.


URSP 810  - Contemporary Metropolitan Issues (3 Credits)
Introduces Ph.D. students to current metropolitan issues. Focus is on the historical development of the issue, problem definition, methodological approaches to its study, methodological dilemmas, and the ways that different conclusions are translated into policy. Topics vary from semester to semester but include such topics as the spatial mismatch hypothesis, the impact of urban design and form on travel behavior, the impact of technology on urban form, the justification for historic preservation, and sustainable development.


URSP 898 - Pre-Candidacy Research (1 - 8 Credits) 
Selected topics in Urban Studies and Planning. Topics will vary with the instructor.


URSP 899 - Doctoral Dissertation Research (6 Credits)​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​This course is a required course for the Ph.D program in Urban and Regional Planning and Design.