This PhD offers training both in human geographic research and in interdisciplinary approaches to understanding/ responding to the analytic and practical challenges of an era of rapid urbanisation and urban re-development around the world. Cities and development are the main focus of work by both staff and students associated with this programme. But it also provides opportunities for research on topics and issues within human geography which are not specifically ‘urban’ (nor ‘economic’ or ‘environmental’) but which relate to broader areas of expertise and interest of academic staff within the Cities and Development cluster.

The MPhil/PhD Human Geography and Urban Studies aims to: (i) provide advanced knowledge of the principles and conceptual foundations of human geographic and urban social science research, and with the research skills and methodological understanding needed to develop original research in the field; (ii) expose students to the most recent developments and debates in human geography and urban studies; (iii) prepare students for careers in research and academia, international organisations (e.g. World Bank, OECD, UNEP, European Commission, etc.), urban planning, governance, community and service delivery agencies, the private/consultancy sector (e.g. development/urban consultancies, and infrastructure providers), and NGOs or high profile positions in governmental institutions.

Research in Urban Studies at the LSE involves a large number of staff from most of the range of social sciences represented in the School, who interact through the inter-departmental Urban@lse group. The Cities and Development cluster of the Department of Geography involves the largest concentration of urban researchers, and one with particular interests in how social, economic and political processes interact, across a range of urban contexts in all continents, and at all stages of development. Issues related to the urban economy are also strongly represented within the department’s Economic Geography cluster. Research students on this programme are strongly encouraged to engage with the full range of urban research, teaching and scholarship within the LSE’s wider urban research community.

Structure of Programme

The programme is offered in the following alternative formats:

Either 1 (MSc Human Geography and Urban Studies) + 3 (MPhil/PhD Human Geography and Urban Studies);

Or +3 (MPhil/PhD Human Geography and Urban Studies).

The 1+3 route – suitable for those individuals who do not hold a relevant postgraduate degree – is aimed at students graduating with an undergraduate degree in geography or similar social science subject. In the first year of the 1+3 route, core research and subject-specific training will be provided within the framework of the MSc Human Geography and Urban Studies (Research). Individuals who have already completed a graduate degree in a relevant subject can apply directly to the +3 path.

Click here for further details and admission criteria.

Staff Research Interests

  • Professor Sylvia Chant: Gender and development; urban poverty; ‘feminisation of poverty’; housing, rural-urban migration; employment; household livelihood strategies; youth
  • Professor Ian R. Gordon: Neighbourhood effects; spatial labour markets; political economy of global cities; tourism; governance of metropolitan regions; territorial competition; immigration
  • Dr Nancy Holman: Urban planning and local sustainability; urban governance; community participation and partnership working
  • Professor Gareth A. Jones: Culture and urban space; gated communities and identities in Durban;  art and the politics of slums; everyday life and Identities of Latin American Street youth; the politics of land and law reform in Mexico
  • Dr Murray Low: Geographies of political representation and democracy; urban democratisation; urban politics and governance; geography and political theory
  • Dr Alan Mace: suburbanisation; community involvement and planning ; planning and governance; shrinking cities; second homes
  • Dr Claire Mercer: Postcolonialism and development; the politics of development and civil society in Africa, and Tanzania in particular; African diasporas
  • Professor Diane Perrons: Globalisation, gender and inequality; uneven regional development and inequality; gender, work and care; migration and social reproduction; economic and social divisions in contemporary Europe; sustainable and inclusive development; crisis and recovery
  • Dr Hyun Bang Shin: Dynamics of urban (re-)development; socio-spatial aspects of East Asian urban development; urban governance and community participation; housing and social change; urban heritage conservation; mega-events; transitional cities, especially in post-reform China
  • Professor Andrew Thornley: Urban planning, politics and the market in comparative perspective; globalisation, world cities and urban policy; mega-projects (including Olympics)

Students can also expect close interactions with members of other clusters and visitors to the Department, as well as with urbanists from  other departments and centres associated with Urban@LSE