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Professional Development in Urban Studies

Take your studies out of the classroom and apply the skills you’ve learned in an actual work situation. A practicum or placement course allows you to apply for an unpaid position within an organization and work part-time for course credit. You’ll get hands-on experience, opportunities to network with people working in your chosen field, and insight into the kinds of employment positions and activities you might encounter after graduation.

To take advantage of our rewarding SOSC 4710 placement course, students must first complete SOSC 3715. Read below for a detailed breakdown of both offerings.

Step One:

Complete SOSC 3715: The Urban Professional

This course is a pre-requisite for SOSC 4710. This course focuses on professional development (with an emphasis on professionalism) and networking. It raises students’ level of ethical awareness; helps students find solutions for achieving a suitable work-life balance; and broadens students’ academic and professional skillsets to make an effective transition from academia to a career in the field of their choice.

The course helps students develop both hard (i.e. professional writing) and soft skills (communication, conflict resolution, mindfulness). The course not only prepares students for the fourth-year experiential placement course in the program, but also gives students a head start in choosing a career path upon graduation. Through various guest panels, students have the opportunity to explore future career paths in the urban field and the different roles of the urban professional between the public, private, or non-profit sectors through a networking lunch that takes place every year.

Urban Studies Majors who enrol in SOSC 3715 will be assigned mentors who they can reach out to for a coffee or phone call to ask them any questions they might have about life after urban studies, future career options, graduate studies, etc. The course director will assign mentors.

Step Two:

Enrol in SOSC 4710: Urban Field Experience

This course gives students the opportunity to develop their professional skills and acquire relevant professional experience in an area of their interest. The course director coordinates placements and helps students find suitable professional opportunities that match their interests.

Students are required to work 200 unpaid hours. Placements typically begin in September and end in April; however, students may complete their hours in one term if the placement has the resources available to support this.

Students are required to have a minimum GPA of 5.0, and need to be enrolled in the Honours program. Information sessions take place every April for students. Applications with updated resumes will be given to the course instructor prior to enrollment.

We currently have over 30 placement partners that we work with that are located in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

2020-21 Placement Partners:

  • SvN Architects + Planners
  • City of Vaughan Development Planning
  • City of Vaughan Environmental Planning
  • City of Toronto Transportation Services
  • City of Toronto Energy and Environment
  • Town of Grimsby Planning, Building & By-Law
  • MG Development Consulting
  • Green Change - Jane Finch Community and Family Centre
  • Morguard Investments
  • Maximum City
  • City of Brampton Planning & Development
  • CUTA (Canadian Urban Transportation Association)
  • R G Consulting Inc.


What is a placement?

You will apply for a position within an organization, where you’ll practise and develop the skills learned in your course.

Will I be paid?

No. You’ll receive course credit because each placement experience is tied to a particular course. 

Will I be graded?

Yes. You’ll be assigned a supervisor who will guide you through the experience and evaluate your performance. 

How long is the placement?

You will work part-time so you can continue your studies. The length varies by course. 

How do I apply?

You’ll get a job description that outlines the application process, which usually involves a resumé and cover letter, interview and references. 

Will I be insured while on placement?

Students who are on an unpaid placement are fully insured by York University. 

Students will develop their critical analytical skills, writing, and researching skills through the variety of courses offered and experiential opportunities incorporated in many of these Urban Studies courses. In addition to engaging with theoretical debates on the urban question, methodology, and urbanization in a comparative context, students will also have the opportunity to gain hands-on practical skills. In essence, the curriculum encompasses a diverse range of topics and learning experiences for students with different interests. The curriculum will nurture students’ curiosity about cities and social life and will help them develop their scholarly potential as academics and practitioners.

— Teresa Abbruzzese
Professor, Urban Studies