Architecture (ARCH) 400

Urbanism (Revision 1)


Revision 1 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

ARCH 400: Urbanism is intended for students enrolled in the BSc (Architecture) program at the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University. For those students interested in pursuing a career as a registered architect, this course also contributes to the RAIC Syllabus Diploma.

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Science & Technology

Centre: RAIC Centre for Architecture

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Architecture 400: Urbanism introduces the study of urban character—(“morphology”) and urban life—through a historical overview that contextualizes contemporary issues related to urban form and development. Students will be introduced to the theories, language, and vocabulary of urbanism through readings, web-based lectures, directed observation, and critical thought. The course highlights key individuals (practitioners, scholars, and patrons) whose interventions and intentions shaped cities. Issues currently facing society, such as conservation and sustainability, will be addressed and debated.

Course Outline

Unit 0: The Morphology of the City

Unit 1: Cities of Antiquity

  • 1.1 The Origins of Cities
  • 1.2 Greek City States
  • 1.3 Rome and Empire

Unit 2: The City as an Economic Stage

  • 2.1 The Medieval City
  • 2.2 The Renaissance City
  • 2.3 The Spread of Classicism

Unit 3: Transformations of the 19th Century

  • 3.1 The Industrial City
  • 3.2 Haussmann's Paris
  • 3.3 The City Beautiful Movement

Unit 4: Reformist Roots of the Modern Movement

  • 4.1 The Reformers
  • 4.2 Garden and Park
  • 4.3 The Modern Movement

Unit 5: The Post-WWII North American City

  • 5.1 The 20th Century Suburb
  • 5.2 New World Capitals

Unit 6: Contemporary Issues of the City

  • 6.1 The Contemporary City

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, you should be able to:

  • Define urban morphology and its component elements through the evolution of the city with an emphasis on the emergence and creation of archetypal urban space.
  • Describe the characteristics of the typology of urban space based on a familiarity with historic examples.
  • Distinguish among traditionalist, modernist, and postmodernist approaches to (or theories of) urbanism, with a particular emphasis on the late-19th to late-20th century changes to the North American city.
  • Analyze existing urban conditions and urban issues through the application of conceptual and graphic tools typically used by the contemporary urbanist/architect.

Course Evaluation

To receive credit for Architecture 400 you must achieve an overall grade of C+ (67%) for the entire course. The weightings for the course assessments are as follows:

  • 5 Unit quizzes = 30% of the overall grade.
  • Compendium - 6 Collections = 70% of the overall grade.

Term Assignment: The Compendium

This is the major assignment for the course. The Compendium is a series of applied research exercises linked to the major units of the course. You will complete these as you work through the sub-unit study program. Each task is intended to engage students in research on topics related to but not explicitly covered within the material presented. The task is limited to a maximum of four pages including images, with a length of between 300 and 500 words.

Course Materials


LeGates, Richard T. & Frederic Stout. (2011). The City Reader (5th Ed). New York: Routledge.

Bacon, Edmund N. (1976). Design of Cities. New York: Viking Penguin

Morris, A.E.J. (1994). History of Urban Form: Before the Industrial Revolutions (3rd ed.) Harlow, Eng.: Longman.

Online Materials

Course Home Page (online): The course home page houses all the online components of your course.

Study Schedule (online): The study schedule on your course home page includes the Course Information, the seven units of the Study Guide, links to the online readings, and links to your assignments.

Course Information (online): The Course Information provides specific information about how to proceed through the course. Read the Course Information carefully before you begin reading the Study Guide.

Study Guide (online): The Study Guide units are embedded in the Study Schedule on the course home page.

Assignments (online): The assignments are on the course home page, along with helpful instructions.

Undergraduate Student Handbook (online): The Undergraduate Student Handbook contains essential information on administrative and academic procedures for students.

Forms: Forms you may need are available through the myAU portal.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, November 18, 2013.

Updated June 12 2017 by Student & Academic Services