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Our research clusters

Research in the Department of Geography covers the breadth of the discipline, including environment and development studies, social and cultural geography, and the material and social sciences. Our research interests and our most recent research projects can be broadly clustered as follows: 


  • The department has a strong research focus on cities and processes of urbanisation in the Global South and North, including examining urban policy, inequality, and how we live together in these complex, increasingly crowded spaces.
  • Smart cities in India (2018-20): This ESRC-ICSSR funded project examines the phenomenon of 'smart cities' in India: when small cities are transformed by smart technologies and infrastructure. The project is a collaboration between Dr Melissa Butcher and academics from King's College London, Birmingham University, the Institute of Economic Growth (Delhi) and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research. 
  • Public transport in London and São Paulo (2015-18): Funded by the ESRC and the São Paulo Research Foundation, this project explored unequal access to transport in London and São Paulo. The research measured accessibility and its relationship to poverty and inequality. Dr Joana Barros collaborated with the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL and various academic institutions in Brazil
  • Youth and gentrification in London (2015-18): This ESRC-funded project explored youth, identity and belonging in Hackney, a rapidly gentrifying area of east London. Dr Melissa Butcher collaborated with a local youth theatre company, Immediate Theatre, and the film production company, Mouth That Roars, to understand how young people experience ‘home’ in a changing environment. 

Culture, identity and inequality

  • Within cities, and between countries, our research investigates the relationships between culture, identity and inequality, with a particular focus on the critical social geographies of class, gender, ethnic and racial diversity. 
  • Urban change and gentrification in Bolivia (2015-17): Looking at La Paz and its satellite city El Alto (Bolivia), Dr Kate Maclean explored how urban accumulation, dispossession and displacement in these places challenge the conception of ‘gentrification’. 
  • Gender and space in Delhi and Shanghai (2013-16): Dr Melissa Butcher collaborated with artists and with academic colleagues in Heidelberg and Amsterdam to document the experiences of women living and working in Delhi and Shanghai. The themes explored include autonomy, respectability, precarity, and the shifting boundaries between public and private space. An exhibition was held in Amsterdam in late 2016. 
  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and social media (2017-18): Dr Christina Julios explored online activism against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). She interviewed many activists and considered the challenges of researching cyberspace. Her book, Female Genital Mutilation and Social Mediawas published in 2018. 


  • Our work is at the forefront of research into bio-diversity loss, human/non-human relations, environmental processes and climate change, from the quaternary to the contemporary challenges of shoreline erosion.
  • Environmental change in ancient Iraq (2018-19): Dr Becky Briant is collaborating with UK and Iraqi academics to determine movements of the Arab Gulf shoreline over the late Holocene period, to better understand the location and development of cities during the Sumerian period. 
  • Human-wildlife encounters (2017-19): Dr Simon Pooley investigates traumatic encounters between people and wild animals, such as crocodiles, particularly in poor rural areas where people work and live on the territories of wild animals. 
  • Shoreline change in Suffolk (2015-16): Dr Sue Brooks developed a new module to understand and predict shoreline erosion in Suffolk, where climate variability sees shoreline changes of up to 15 meters during severe storms. 

Geo-analytics and modelling

International Development

  • This area of research in our department considers the question of how countries improve the wellbeing of citizens, with specific work on health, gender, children and youth in international development.  
  • Public-private partnerships (2017-18): Dr Jasmine Gideon led a research network that explored how Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) fund public services in the developing world.  This research examined PPPs in India and South Africa and how they affect inequalities and access to services. 
  • Gender inequalities in Chile (2017): Dr Jasmine Gideon collaborated with a Chilean academic to examine gender inequalities (particularly caring responsibilities) in Chilean social policies.