Research Topics 2016

Research + Design Studio Options 2016-2017 (PDF with detailed descriptions)

Industrialized Housing Delivery Ecologies: Modular
Associate Professor Ivan Rupnik, PhD

Makerspaces: Design in the Age of Ubiquitous Maker Facilities
Assistant Teaching Professor Michael Smith

District Halls: Catalysts for Reviving Neighborhood Centers
Associate Professor Tim Love

Surf + Turf: Envisioning the Future of New England Food Systems
Visiting Professor Amy Whitesides, Studio Director, Stoss Landscape Urbanism

Master of Architecture Directed Independent Research + Design Projects Guidelines
Associate Professor Peter Wiederspahn

M.Arch 3


The minimum course work for all students in the first year of the program is

  • 2 Studio Courses (Minimum 10 credits total)
  • 2 Graduate Electives (Minimum 8 credits total)
  • 78-100 credits total based on waivers


Class of 2019 Course Sequence

Class of 2018 Course Sequence

Class of 2017 Course Sequence

YEAR ONE FALL (18 Credits)

YEAR ONE, SPRING (18 Credits)



YEAR TWO, SPRING (18 Credits)

YEAR THREE, FALL (14-18 Credits)



This is a list of approved graduate electives. Classes may not run every semester. If you wish to take a class that is not on this list, please email the course name, course number and description to Mary Hughes. The course will be reviewed and if approved, will be added as an option to the list.

IA 5010 Foundations of Information Assurance (4 Credits) 
Spring 2017 CRN : 31633

Builds a common cross-disciplinary understanding in the foundations of information assurance  Presents an overview of basic principles and security concepts related to information systems, including workstation security, system security, and communications security.  Introduces information security via database technology.  Discusses legal infrastructure such as DMCA, Telecommunications Act, wire fraud, and other ethical issues.  Covers security methods, controls, procedures, economics of cybercrime, criminal procedure, and forensics.  Describes the use of cryptography as a tool, software development processes, and protection.

ARTH 5100 – Contemporary Art Theory and Criticism (4 credits)
Not offered Spring 2017

Introduces the major critical and philosophical approaches that have transformed the reception, interpretation, and production of contemporary art since the 1960s. Examines a range of key interpretive methodologies—including modernism, postmodernism, psychoanalysis, feminism, Marxism, poststructuralism and deconstruction, critical race theory, visual studies, and globalism—designed to provide practitioners with the means to critically frame their own art making within contemporary debates about the meaning and social functions of art.

ARTG5130 Visual Communication for Information Design
Not offered Spring 2017

Explores graphic and typographic theory, principles, and practices. Introduces students to visual communication design with a primary focus on typography as the fundamental means of conveying content. Readings locate design and typography within the larger history of visual art and writing development. Covers methods of organizing content through hierarchy and spatial organization of grid structures. Considers relationships between positive and negative space, depth perception, transparency, and color theory.  Prereq. Information design and visualization students only.   

ARTG 5330: Visualization Technologies (4 credits)
Not offered Spring 2017

Introduces programming languages that allow computational analysis and digital delivery of dynamic information. Examines implications of environmental and personal sensor data sources, mobile collection and analysis of data, real-time networked data sets, and social use of shared data visualization tools.

ARTH 5400Contemporary Visual Culture (4 credits)
Not offered Spring 2017
Explores the implications of the erosion of the traditional boundary between fine art and mass culture for artistic theory and practice as well as art’s place in an increasingly globalized world. Situates contemporary artistic practice within the broader context of visual culture – including film, television, advertising, architecture, and the Internet.

ECON 7260: Urban Economic Systems (4 credits)
Not offered Spring 2017

Examines urban economic systems including systematic relationships among cities, as well as those within cities. The portion of the course devoted to inter-metropolitan analysis covers central place theory, the location of economic activity, and inter-metropolitan trade. Intrametropolitan analysis includes urban form and land use, land use controls, and local government systems.

ECON 7261: Urban Economic Development (4 credits)
Not offered Spring 2017

Examines urban economic development processes. Topics include models and techniques for describing and evaluating urban economies; development strategies and tools; commercial, industrial, and housing development; and problems of poverty and housing.

ECON 7270: Economics of Law and Regulation (4 credits)
Spring 2017 : CRN 34669

Relies on models of welfare economics to analyze the impact of laws, regulation, and deregulation, in terms of both positive and normative aspects. Topics include economic analysis of market failures and government remedies; property, tort, and contract law; and economic and social regulation. Students are encouraged to develop critical skills in analyzing various types of economic policy. Prereq. Knowledge of microeconomics.

ECON 7771: Framework of Industrial Organization (4 credits)
Spring 2017: CRN 31127

Sets out the analytical framework of industrial organization economics-the basis and method for evaluating the performance of markets and firms and for prescribing policies for improvement. Topics include size and structure of firms, market concentration, pricing in oligopoly and other markets, entry and entry deterrence strategies, and advertising and product strategies. Each of these topics is examined using a range of tools including microeconomic theory, game theory, and statistical analysis. Prereq. ECON 7710 and ECON 7740, both with a grade of B–.

ENVR 5115 – Advanced Topics in Environmental Geology (4 Credits)
Not offered Spring 2017Examines selected topics in geology through an understanding of the basic processes, materials, and evolution. Topics include basin analysis, landform evolution, volcanology, or regional geology. Prereq. Junior, senior, or graduate standing

ENVR 5260: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) (4 credits)
Not offered Spring 2017

Examines geographical information systems (GIS), a way to input, store, analyze, and display spatial data (data with a geographic location). Introduces the major components and applications of this exciting new tool. Consists of two lectures and one laboratory period a week. Laboratory exercises introduce methods of data analysis as well as practical issues of how to manipulate various GIS software packages.

ENVR 5262: GIS Workshop (2 credits)
Not offered Spring 2017

Studies the basic techniques of reflection and refraction seismology, gravity, aeromagnetic and heat-flow processes, and the information they provide on the structure, composition, and dynamics of the earth’s interior.

HIST 7217: Modern American Social History (4 credits)
Not offered Spring 2017

Examines recent historical literature on changes in American society over the last hundred years. Possible topics include race, ethnicity, class, gender, migration, demography, deviance, and social policy.

HIST 7311: Grad Seminar in Urban History (4 credits)
Not offered Spring 2017

Examines the history of the modern city, with a focus on America and on Boston, and discusses local history sources and their analysis.

JRNL 5311: Design and Graphics (4 credits)
Spring 2017: CRN 35409

Introduces graphic design terminology and principles using Adobe PageMaker, a leading desktop publishing program. Covers how to plan a publication based on audience and budget. Design assignments include newspapers, magazines, brochures, advertisements, and corporate identity programs. Strict attention is paid to deadlines and quality of the printed publication. Prereq. Junior, senior, or graduate standing.

LPSC 6313: Economic Analysis for Law, Policy, and Planning
(3 credits*)
Not offered Spring 2017

Designed to familiarize master’s degree students with the essential ideas and methods of microeconomics and their application to a wide range of domestic public policy issues at the national, state, and local level. The role of program and management incentives in influencing behavior and policy outcomes is heavily emphasized. The course focus is to understand the ideas of microeconomic theory and apply them to a range of alternative public policy issues. Offers students an opportunity to develop a clear understanding of essential economic ideas and how the economic perspective can be applied to a wide range of public policy issues.
*Please enroll in the planning module PPUA 6400 associated with this course when you register. 

LPSC 7312: Cities, Sustainability, and Climate Change
(3 credits*)

Spring 2017 : CRN : 35503

Provides an overview of the various aspects of urban sustainability planning. Examines sustainability as an urban planning approach with both ecological and social justice goals. Covers sustainable planning and offers students an opportunity to understand it within the context of smart growth and the new urbanism. Focuses on the two areas in which cities can reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions—the built environment and transportation. From there, the course examines planning efforts to reduce demand on water and sewer systems and to create employment in renewable energy and other “clean-tech” occupations. The course ends by placing urban initiatives in the context of state and national policy. *Please enroll in the planning module PPUA 6400 associated with this course when you register.

PPUA 6400: Planning Module in Urban Law and Policy
(1 credit)

This is the add-on module for LSPC 6313 and LPSC 7312. Please make sure that you are enrolled for this additional semester hour.

ME 5645 Environmental Issues in Manufacturing and Product Use
Spring 2017 : CRN : 34443 OR 35079

Explores environmental and economic aspects of different materials used in products throughout the product life cycle. Introduces concepts of industrial ecology, life cycle analysis, and sustainable development. Students work in teams to analyze case studies of specific products fabricated using metals, ceramics, polymers, or paper. These case studies compare cost, energy, and resources used and emissions generated through the mining, refining, manufacture, use, and disposal stages of the product life cycle. Debates issues in legislation (extended product responsibility, recycling mandates, and ecolabeling) and in disposal strategies (landfill, incineration, reuse, and recycling). Discusses difficulties associated with environmental impact assessments and the development of decision analysis tools to weigh the tradeoffs in technical, economic, and environmental performance, and analyzes specific case studies. Prereq. Junior, senior, or graduate standing.

POLS 7314: Urban Government and Politics (3 credits*)
Not offered Spring 2017

Explores issues and problems in urban government, such as legal dependence, government finance and administration, rapid growth of suburban and metropolitan areas, and decline and decay of the central city. *Please enroll in the planning module POLS 6400 associated with this course when you register.

POLS 7315: Urban Development and Politics (3 credits*)
Not offered Spring 2017

Analyzes the creation and implementation of urban development policies and programs. Explores subsidies and taxes, housing, commercial and industrial development, and job creation and training projects in terms of their historical, political, economic, and social dimensions. *Please enroll in the planning module POLS 6400 associated with this course when you register.

POLS 7324: Problems in Metropolitan Policymaking (3 credits*)
Not offered Spring 2017

Examines the broad challenges that confront metropolitan areas-defined as including the center city, its immediate suburbs, and the broader periphery-including economic development, land use, transportation, housing, and the provision of basic services. Considers the array of tools available to policymakers, including planning, tax policy, pooling of services, and zoning. Includes a professional activity related to urban planning. *Please enroll in the planning module POLS 6400 associated with this course when you register.

POLS 7326 International Development Administration and Planning (3 credits)
Not offered Spring 2017

Takes a “manager’s eye view” of the formulation, implementation, evaluation, and improvement of development projects in less developed countries. Also focuses on the planning dynamics of host-government, bilateral, and multilateral organizations as they analyze and tackle such problem areas as agriculture, education, health, population, and land reform. Employs simulations and case studies. *Please enroll in the planning module POLS 6400 associated with this course when you register.

POLS 6400: Planning Module in Urban and Regional Policy (1 credit)

This is the add-on module for POLS 7314, POLS 7315,POLS 7324 and POLS 7326. Please make sure that you are enrolled for this additional semester hour.

PPUA 5262 Big Data for Cities-Visual Data Mining Strategies (3 credits*)
Not offered Spring 2017

Focuses on investigating the city and its spatial, social, and economic dynamics through the lens of data and visual analytics. Utilizes large public datasets to develop knowledge about visual methods for analyzing data and communicating results. Develops a critical understanding of data-structures, collection methodologies, and their inherent biases. *Please enroll in the planning module PPUA 6400 / CRN 14747 associated with this course when you register.

PPUA 7234: Land Use and Urban Growth Policy  (3 credits)*
Not offered Spring 2017

Explores the evolution of land use and urban form in the United States and surveys different types of land-use and urban-growth management tools used by local, regional, and state governments. Examines the environmental, economic, spatial, and social impacts of different patterns of urban growth, including “sprawl” and “smart growth,” and the different philosophies and legal and policy approaches employed to manage those impacts. Also explores how land-use and urban-growth policy interacts with related priorities, including housing, infrastructure, and fiscal policy. Focuses on current and emerging issues and debates in land-use and urban-growth management, such as New Urbanism, livable communities, and transit-oriented development. *Please enroll in the planning module PPUA 6400 / CRN 16941 associated with this course when you register.

PPUA 6201: The 21st Century City (3 credits)*
Not offered Spring 2017

Offers multi-disciplinary examination of the wonders and challenges of urban life, with focus on current dynamics of urban location and prosperity in the context of a global economy. Examines forces that shaped the evolution of cities and metropolitan regions, assesses a range of policy issues confronting metro areas today and the respective roles played by public and private sectors in addressing those challenges, explores global forces that are transforming cities and regions throughout the world, and addresses key questions of urban well-being, civility, and civic engagement. *Please enroll in the planning module PPUA 6400 / CRN 15962 associated with this course when you register.

PPUA 7231: Transportation Policy (3 credits)*
Not offered Spring 2017

Examines the physical, technological, economic, social, cultural, and political underpinnings of transportation policy in the United States. Topics include intra- and interstate transportation, the comparative economics of different modes of transportation, the impacts of federal and state policies on transportation options, and the long-term effects of those choices on metropolitan development, housing, land use, energy and environment. Also involves comparisons with transportation systems in other countries. *Please enroll in the planning module PPUA 6400 associated with this course when you register.

PPUA 7236: Intro to Real Estate Development for Urban Policy Makers (3 Credits)

Not offered Spring 2017

*Introduces the basic skills and knowledge of real estate development used within public-private partnerships to address policy and planning issues. Through a series of problem sets, offers students an opportunity to learn basic real estate finance and computation, including the fundamentals of pro forma modeling. Covers the entire real estate development process, from preliminary market and financial analysis through to construction management and property management using case studies and guest lecturers. Explores how public-private partnerships shape the outcomes of urban redevelopment within specific topics that may include affordable housing provision, brownfield redevelopment, transit-oriented development, sustainable urban development, and others.*Please enroll in the planning module PPUA 6400  associated with this course when you register.

PPUA 7673: Capstone Project in Urban and Regional Policy (3 credits)*
Fall 2017 : CRN 35507 OR 35520 OR 36366

Offers an opportunity for student teams, in partnership with a local, state, or federal agency or nonprofit institution, to assess an urban or regional problem, produce a thorough policy analysis, and present it and recommended solutions to the agency or institution. Course readings focus on materials needed to assess the problem and provide solutions. This is a faculty-guided team project for students completing course work in urban and regional policy studies. *Please enroll in the planning module PPUA 6400/CRN 15960 associated with this course when you register.

*PPUA 6400: Planning Module in Urban Policy (1 credit)

This is the add-on module for PPUA 6201, PPUA 7231, PPUA 767 and PPUA 5262 Please make sure that you are enrolled for this additional semester hour.

SOCL 7256: Contemporary Issues: Globalization and the City (3 credits*)
Not offered Spring 2017

Discuss contemporary issues in sociology. Include supervised readings and written reports on special problems. *Please enroll in the planning module SOCL 8400 associated with this course when you register.

SOCL 7235: Urban Sociology (3 credits*)
Not offered Spring 2017

Discusses theories of the development of urban life. Compares preindustrial and industrialized urban areas. Presents methods for the study of urban social structure and change, and evaluates contemporary metropolitan action programs. *Please enroll in the planning module SOCL 8400 associated with this course when you register.

SOCL 8400: Planning Module in Urban and Regional Policy (1 credit)
Not offered Spring 2017

This is the add-on module for SOCL 7256 and SOCL 7235. Please make sure that you are enrolled for this additional semester hour.

SUEN 6210 Implementation and Visualization for Urban Environments I (4 credits)
Not offered Spring 2017

This course is an intensive introduction to site analysis and manipulation of earthworks, water and vegetation with a focus on disturbance regimes within waterfront and brownfield zones. Core topics emphasize the ecological services promoted by the urban environment, including: urban soil structure; contouring the urban surface; regional plant communities; storm water, surge and tidal flux management. Development of implementation skills is supported by training in vector, raster and 3D modeling software.

SUEN 6220 Implementation and Visualization for Urban Environments 2 (4 credits)
Spring2017: CRN 33745

Constitutes the second half of a two-part sequence and builds upon material in SUEN 6210. Core topics include an introduction to regional landscape ecology in urbanized watersheds. Focuses on landscape-scale systems and soft infrastructure. Introduces GIS and geo-design software as a lens to learn about and visualize change in regional environments. Offers students an opportunity to advance landscape analysis and visualization skills through further training in vector, raster, and 3D modeling software. Prereq. SUEN 6210.

SUEN 6310 Cities, Nature & Design in Contemporary History and Theory (4 credits)
Not offered Spring 2017

This lecture courses presents an historical overview of evolving cultural, environmental and technological influences on societal attitudes toward the relationship of cities, nature and design.  Core topics include the emergence of critical theories, aesthetic philosophies and design typologies in the modern era of industrialization, and the subsequent impact of information, participation and globalization trends on 21st century designed urban environments.

SUEN 7320: Pro-Seminar: Issues in Designed Urban Environments (4 credits)
Spring 2017: CRN 34533

Offers an advanced graduate seminar examining the forces shaping designed urban environments in contemporary global culture. A diverse range of material from published design criticism to open source social media engagement provides basis for discussion and written and oral presentations. Course themes determined by the instructor parallel the studio sequence SUEN 7130 and SUEN 7140, although discussion topics are broadly presented to engage graduate students from any background.

SBSY 5200:Sustainable Engineering Systems for Buildings (4 credits)
Spring 2017: CRN 34846

Focuses on basic design and construction of mechanical/electrical/plumbing (MEP) systems in buildings. Covers MEP documentation, plumbing water supply, HVAC systems, electrical power supply and distribution, lighting systems, low-voltage electrical systems, and estimating and planning for these specialty areas. Also addresses sustainable design and construction practices for MEP, including minimization of energy consumption and carbon footprint.

ARCH 6340 Graduate Topics in Architecture

Explores focused research topics relevant to the graduate program curriculum. The professor presents his or her research related to a particular urban, architectural, or technical topic. This exposes the students to methods of research and topics in current and ongoing research in the field. The students have an opportunity to engage in related and parallel research projects during the course of the semester.

Spring 2017 Topics PDF

  • Real Estate Finance & Development
  • Architectural Ecologies: Interactions between Building and Landscape
  • The Project: Design Agendas in Contemporary Architectural Practice
  • Urban and Regional Policy in Developing Countries
  • Building Practice Exchanges:Modernism in the Middle East