Concordia University

Geography, Urban and Environmental Studies PhD

Admission Requirements

The normal requirement for admission into the PhD is a Master of Arts or a Master of Science in Geography, Urban Planning, Environmental Science, or a related field of study from a recognized university. Applicants are selected on the basis of a sound academic record, strong letters of recommendation, and a convincing statement of purpose which clearly describes their academic interest in the program and intended area of research. In addition, admission is contingent on the availability of an appropriate faculty member in the Department to serve as supervisor.

Upon recommendation by full-time members of the faculty of the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, students registered in the Master of Science in Geography, Urban and Environmental Studies at Concordia University and who have shown themselves to be outstanding through performance in research may apply for permission to proceed directly to doctoral studies. Students transferring from the MSc program will be required to complete 90 credits in addition to the MSc required courses HENV 605 or HENV 610 plus HENV 615.

Proficiency in English. Applicants whose primary language is not English must demonstrate that their knowledge of English is sufficient to pursue graduate studies in their chosen field. Please refer to the Graduate Admission page for further information on the Language Proficiency requirements and exemptions.

Requirements for the Degree

  1. Courses. All students must take the following:
    9 credits: HENV 801, HENV 802, HENV 805.
    6 credits in elective courses chosen from: HENV 605, HENV 610, HENV 620, HENV 625, HENV 630, HENV 635, HENV 640, HENV 645, HENV 650, HENV 655, HENV 660, HENV 665, HENV 670, HENV 675, HENV 680, or HENV 690.

  2. Thesis Proposal. HENV 810 (3 credits).

  3. Comprehensive exam. HENV 885 (6 credits).

  4. Research and Thesis. HENV 895 (66 credits).

Academic Regulations

  1. Academic Standing. Please refer to the Academic Standing section of the Calendar for a detailed review of the Academic Regulations.
    Program Specific Requirements. Students must obtain an assessment grade point average (AGPA) of 3.00 based on a minimum of 6 credits.

  2. Residence. The minimum period of residence is two years (six terms) of full-time graduate study beyond the master’s degree or three years (nine terms) of full-time graduate study (or the equivalent in part-time study) beyond the bachelor’s degree for those students who are permitted to enrol for doctoral studies without completing a master’s degree.

  3. Time Limit. Please refer to the Academic Regulation page for further details regarding the Time Limit requirements. The expected time to completion for this program is between three and four years.

  4. Graduation Requirement. In order to graduate, students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00.


Required Courses

HENV 801 Pedagogical Training (3 credits)
The objective of this course is to ensure that all PhD students acquire strong teaching and other communication skills which are useful for both academic and non-academic positions. Candidates are required to attend a seminar in university teaching in collaboration with the Centre for Teaching and Learning Services of Concordia University. Following the successful completion of this seminar, candidates are required to give four lectures (normally 75 minutes each) to undergraduate classes. The course is graded on a pass/fail basis.

HENV 802 Experiential Learning (3 credits)
The objective of this course is to ensure that all students acquire some practical experience in their field of research. Candidates are required to work for a minimum of 200 hours (either full-time or part-time) in either the private sector in a field relevant to their doctoral research, in a research laboratory based outside Concordia University, in a non-profit organization or in the government. The course is graded on a pass/fail basis.

HENV 805 Research Proposal Seminar (3 credits)
Conceptual and methodological frameworks related to human interventions in the environment in the built, social and natural environment are examined through various student presentations and exchanges on their research topic. This course includes completion of the oral presentation of the research proposal.

HENV 810 Thesis Proposal (3 credits)
Students are required to select their research topic and formulate a thesis proposal under the supervision of a thesis supervisor and with input from a supervisory committee. The written proposal includes a sound rationale for the proposed research, a detailed description of the research design and methodology, and a comprehensive literature review. The thesis proposal is assessed by the supervisory committee and approved by the Graduate Program Director.

HENV 885 Comprehensive Exam (6 credits)
The comprehensive exam is prepared in consultation with the supervisory committee and aims to ensure that the student has a sound knowledge of three areas of concentration within his or her field of research. The examining committee consists of the supervisory committee plus one additional member of the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment and is chaired by the Graduate Program Director. The student is evaluated on the quality of the written and oral responses to questions.

HENV 895 Research and Thesis (66 credits)
A major portion of the doctoral program involves the planning and execution of innovative and original research under the direction of a supervisor or two co-supervisors. The thesis is examined by a Thesis Examining Committee and is defended orally.

Elective Courses

HENV 605 Advanced Qualitative Research Methods (3 credits)
This course considers some of the foundational theories that inform contemporary research in the fields of Human Geography and Urban Studies. It also explores a spectrum of qualitative research paradigms, theories and advanced methodologies relevant to social science. of qualitative research paradigms, theories and methodologies relevant to social science.

HENV 610 Advanced Quantitative Research Methods (3 credits)
This course considers experimental design and advanced data analysis methods in Geography and Environmental Sciences. The course focuses on statistical analysis of quantitative data, using the R programming environment. Specific topics include data exploration and plotting,advanced statistical tests, linear regression, statistical model selection, non-parametric tests and mixed effects models.

HENV 620 Sustainable Transportation (3 credits)
This advanced seminar explores the different elements of what is broadly known as sustainable transportation. It considers the importance as well as the negative impacts of transport systems, and how these are described and captured methodologically. Of critical importance is the intimate link between land-use and transportation systems.

HENV 625 Sustainable Resource Management (3 credits)
This seminar examines the impact of human activities on natural resources. Topics such as integrated management and exploitation practices, biodiversity and conservation, focusing particularly on forest and water resources from physical, chemical, biological, socio-economic, and technological perspectives are investigated.

HENV 630 Theories of Society and Space (3 credits)
Human Geography is informed by a range of theories that have developed inside and outside the discipline. This course introduces students to some of the most influential of these theories as well as to theoretically-informed geographical literature. While students are exposed to foundational theories, the course focuses on critical geographical work that seeks to interpret the present moment.

HENV 635 Spatial Analysis (3 credits)
This course examines analytical methods for handling specifically spatial data, where the arrangement of observations in space is thought to be of significance. The emphasis is on the choice and application of appropriate methods for the analysis of various types of data that are encountered in Geography, Planning, and Environmental Studies. Procedures for analyzing spatial distributions of phenomena, temporal dynamics and change are examined in relation to Geographical Information Systems (GIS) tools and statistical techniques.

HENV 640 (Re)shaping the City (3 credits)
By relying on an array of theoretical formulations informed by political economy, economic geography, urban morphology, urban sociology, anthropology and ecology, this seminar explores various social processes that contribute to the shaping and reshaping of our cities’ material and spatial forms.

HENV 645 Behaviour and the Urban Environment (3 credits)
This course provides a basic understanding of the relationship between people and the urban environment. The focus is on the collective and individual responses of people to the built or designed environment, and the way in which these responses can be used to guide projects, plans and policies. The basic studies for the location of commercial facilities and the modelling of human spatial behaviour are introduced.

HENV 650 The Political-Economy of the City (3 credits)
This course explores the implications of economic globalization and neoliberalism for urban life in late capitalist (post-1970s) period. Drawing on literatures from the fields of planning, geography, and political economy, it focuses on how urban policies and services are being restructured and how these changes affect different social groups.

HENV 655 Environmental Modelling (3 credits)
The different approaches to modelling the bio-physical, built or human environment are examined. The conceptualization of simple models to examine how human interventions affect the environment is investigated. Different modelling approaches such as system models, computer visualization and simulation are covered. Students develop a model scheme related to their thesis topic. Lectures and laboratory.

HENV 660 Climate Change and Sustainability (3 credits)
This seminar examines the interface between climate science, and the demands and challenges of developing sustainable human societies. Class discussions are oriented around current literature on topics such as the potential impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities, strategies to enhance resilience and increase global equity in climate mitigation efforts, and opportunities to develop sustainable energy systems. The course also includes quantitative analysis and visualization of spatial change datasets.

HENV 665 Special Topics Seminar (3 credits)
This course is designed to meet the special needs of individual graduate students. Topics vary to permit investigation of current and developing theories and research areas. Content involves presentation, discussion, and critical analysis of information from relevant scientific literature. The course will also take advantage of visiting expertise.

HENV 670 Environmental Governance (3 credits)
This course examines the principles, practices and institutions involved in environmental conservation and management as well as the sustainable exploitation of natural resources. Topics include sustainability, the precautionary principle, social capital, adaptive capacity, common property resource theories, deliberative democracy, environmental justice and environmental conflict resolution. Attention is given to issues of scale, particularly the mismatch of spatial, temporal and functional scales that characterize unsustainable management and use practices.

HENV 675 Community-Based Conservation (3 credits)
This course addresses the question of community participation in conservation and development initiatives. Focusing on the particular experience of local communities, it presents participatory concepts, principles, tools, and processes that have practical application to a broad range of contexts and settings.
Note: Students who have received credit for GEOG 607 may not take this course for credit.

HENV 680 Advanced Seminar in Environmental Science (3 credits)
This course provides an overview of current research in environmental and related scientific disciplines. The course involves seminars, presentations, and critical analysis of scientific literature, including discussion of cutting-edge research topics in fields such as ecological restoration, biodiversity, climate change, renewable energy, food and water security, and natural resource conservation.

HENV 690 Seminar in Social and Cultural Geography (3 credits)
This seminar introduces students to some important contemporary geographical approaches and topics in the study of society and culture. Specific themes may include globalization, migration, multiculturalism and diaspora, marginality, policing and imprisonment, and social movements. To provide a broad understanding of these themes, the course emphasizes analyses that draw upon geographical concepts of space, place, identity, and power.

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