Geography, Environment and Development Studies (MPhil / PhD)

Year of entry

2017

Start date

October 2017, January 2018 or April 2018

Status

Fully Approved

Duration

Up to four years full-time or seven years part-time

Attendance

Regular meetings with your supervisor(s)

Other entry years for this course

2018

Our MPhil/PhD programmes aim to train you to conduct research of the highest academic standard and to make an original contribution to the subject through your research. Our doctoral programme aims to respond to the needs and interests both of students seeking an academic career or other professional employment and of those who wish to pursue a line of intellectual enquiry for its own sake. We aim to recruit both recent graduates and mature students who now have the time to pursue an intellectual enthusiasm, perhaps after a lifetime of professional work.

PhD researchers can specialise in geography, geographical information science, environmental studies, development studies, international childhood studies, or community, youth and voluntary sector studies. Studying for an MPhil or PhD in any of the areas offered in the Department of Geography involves working closely with a small group of staff on an independent research project. This means that we are only able to accept students whose proposed research project lies within the areas of expertise of our staff. If there is a particular member of staff you would like to work with, please contact them to discuss your project before applying.

An MPhil/PhD is an advanced postgraduate research degree that requires original research and the submission of a substantial dissertation of 60,000 to 100,000 words. At Birkbeck, you are initially registered on an MPhil and you upgrade to a PhD after satisfactory progress in the first year or two. You need to find a suitable academic supervisor at Birkbeck, who can offer the requisite expertise to guide and support you through your research. Find out more about undertaking a research degree at Birkbeck.

Community, Youth and Voluntary Sector Studies

The department offers supervision in theoretical perspectives and understandings of community theory and practice and youth and voluntary sector studies. Staff in this research area have established excellent links with professional organisations in their fields and also have international links with academic institutions in the USA and South Africa, working collaboratively on issues concerning religion and race in public life.

Development Studies

The department offers supervision in theoretical and empirical research on practices and experiences of development. Our research areas include ageing, childhood, gender and development, migration, NGOs and political activism, regional specialisation in Latin America and South Asia, rights, social policy, urban and rural poverty, and visual culture and development.

Geography

Research study in geography can take a wide variety of forms across the social and physical sciences dependent on topic, but the common thread is the distinctive perspective, often interdisciplinary, that a geographical approach to research offers. Key research interests are: cities and socio-spatial inequality, coastal geomorphology and coastal policy, food security and climate change, flooding and flood insurance, impact of environmental change on nature and agriculture, long-term river behaviour and climate change, remote sensing, renewable energy, and social and urban geography.

Geographical Information Science

At Birkbeck, we pride ourselves in offering one of the longest-running GISc programmes. The Birkbeck GISc academic team works in a broad range of areas of geographic information knowledge, including spatial analytical methods, cartography and visualisation, remote sensing, and geocomputation and their research activities are at the forefront of GIS development.

International Childhood Studies

The department offers supervision in theoretical and empirical research on practices and experiences of childhood. Our research areas include cultures of childhood, visual culture and representation of childhood, the governance of childhood, childhood and social identities, and histories of childhood.

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Highlights

  • Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • In the 2014 REF, Sociology at Birkbeck was ranked 13th in the UK.
  • The Department of Geography's students come from a range of geographic and professional backgrounds, many (but not all) having research interests related to their employment. There are now around 15 research students currently undertaking a PhD or MPhil, some of which are linked to staff research projects, which means students benefit from the research infrastructure built up by the department's major programmes.
  • The department provides excellent support for students and will do its best to help you succeed at your research. Most part-time research students only come to the department for occasional meetings with their academic supervisors or for research seminars, and those who require computing or physical laboratory equipment can also come in the evenings or at weekends.
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  • Entry Requirements We welcome a wide range of qualifications, from the UK and abroad, and we will also consider your non-academic achievements.

    Entry requirements

    A good honours degree in a relevant discipline.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

  • Fees We are committed to doing everything we can to help you finance your studies.

    Fees

    Part-time home/EU students: £ 2226 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £ 4195 pa
    Part-time overseas students: £ 6050 pa
    Full-time overseas students: £ 11995 pa

    Fees and finance

    Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

    Fees discounts: If you are a member of a union that is recognised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), you may apply for a 10% discount off your tuition fees.

    The School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy attracts funding for studentships that ensure researchers of the highest standard can pursue their research with us. Find out more about research funding opportunities at Birkbeck.

  • Our Research Culture Birkbeck is a world-leading research university with a vibrant, interdisciplinary research culture and a welcoming, supportive community of researchers.

    Our Research Culture

    Our students benefit not only from the advisory insight of specialist academics within the department, but also from a wider culture of support and advice from staff and other research students. We see our research students as a central part of our community, who play a key role in the vitality of the wider research process. Those completing our research degrees in the past have often moved on into highly skilled occupations in both the commercial and academic worlds.

    Research students in the Department of Geography are able to participate in subject-specific doctoral seminars and can attend relevant modules on any of the MSc degrees offered within the department or social sciences as part of their research training. Find out more about the training and support you will get as a research student in our department.

    Students also have the opportunity to participate in guest lectures, films and workshops offered both within the department and in wider groupings such as the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, the Institute of Voluntary Action Research, and the London International Development Centre. We offer financial assistance for conference attendance where appropriate.

    Our research computing laboratory has powerful geographical information system (GIS) software, provides networked PCs and is used for a range of system GIS applications and remote sensing/image processing functions.

    Read more about our vibrant research culture.

  • How to apply Once you've found the course that's right for you, here's what to do next to get your place at Birkbeck.

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link. To ensure that we have an appropriate supervisor for your area of research, please contact our course team and discuss this with them prior to submitting your application.

    Find out more about how to apply for this MPhil/PhD.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    You can apply throughout the year.

    If you wish to apply for funding, you will need to apply by certain deadlines. Consult the websites of relevant bodies for details.

  • Finding a supervisor Finding the right supervisor for your research is important: we offer supervision in over 40 subject areas and in interdisciplinary combinations.

    Finding a supervisor

      A critical factor when applying for postgraduate study in geography, environment and development studies is the correlation between the applicant’s intellectual and research interests and those of one or more potential supervisors within the department.

      Find out more about the research interests of our academic staff:

      Community, Youth and Voluntary Sector Studies

      • William Ackah, BA, MA, PhD: Black and ethnic minority community and voluntary sector; political and cultural movements in the African diaspora; political and community engagement of Black churches; race equality-legislation and practice.
      • Paul Watt, BA, CertEd, MSc, MPhil, PhD: youth, employment and housing; communities and neighbourhoods.

      Development Studies

      • Joana Barros, MSc, PhD: computational models of urban systems; Latin American cities; complexity theory; urban planning in developing countries.
      • Jasmine Gideon, MA, PhD: Latin America; gender, globalisation and social policy; health; migration and health; socio-economic rights.
      • Kate Maclean, MA, MSc, PhD: gender and development; feminist geography; politics in Latin America, particularly Bolivia and Colombia; citizenship; social inclusion; governmentality, microfinance; used clothes trade; 'social urbanism'.
      • Penny Vera-Sanso, BA, PhD: rural and urban India; gender and family relations in low-income households; ageing and inter-generational relationships.

        Geographic Information Science

        • Joana Barros, MSc, PhD: geocomputation, specifically agent-based and cellular automata models applied to urban systems; complexity theory; representation of dynamics in GIS; urban development in developing countries; applying dynamic models to urban development of cities in Latin America.
        • Susan Brooks, BA, PhD: mapping and monitoring environmental change using GIS techniques; use of historic maps and aerial photographs to monitor shoreline change; coupled GIS-modelling of environmental systems.
        • Paul Elsner, MMM, MPhil, PhD: Earth observation and environmental monitoring; renewable energy resource assessment; spatial decision support systems; unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV); remote sensing and GIS techniques in coastal modelling.
        • Shino Shiode, BA, MEng, MPhil, PhD: methods of spatial analysis and spatial statistics; GIS programming and tool development; urban and regional analysis; transport analysis; spatial criminology; spatial epidemiology.

        Geography

        • Kezia Barker, MA, MSc, PhD: geographies of human/non-human relations; biopolitics and eco-governmentality; biosecurity and environmental in/securities; the governance of future, mobile and risky natures; environmental/ecological citizenship; cultures of nature; urban and sustainable agriculture; gardening practices.
        • Joana Barros, MSc, PhD: computational models of urban systems; Latin American cities; complexity theory; urban planning in developing countries.
        • Becky Briant, BA, MSc, PhD: quaternary river systems; quaternary dating methods (radiocarbon, luminescence).
        • Susan Brooks, BA, PhD: geomorphological processes; hydrology; hydrological modelling; soil erosion; soil development; slope stability; Holocene climate change.
        • Rosie Cox, BA, MA, PhD: social polarisation in London; paid domestic work; food consumption habits; gender and geography.
        • Paul Elsner, MMM, MPhil, PhD: Earth observation and environmental monitoring; renewable energy resource assessment; spatial decision support systems; unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV); remote sensing and GIS techniques in coastal modelling.
        • Jasmine Gideon, MA, PhD: Latin America; gender, globalisation and social policy; health; migration and health; socioeconomic rights.
        • Kate Maclean, MA, MSc, PhD: gender and development; feminist geography; politics in Latin America, particularly Bolivia and Colombia; citizenship; social inclusion; governmentality, microfinance; used clothes trade; 'social urbanism'.
        • Shino Shiode, BA, MEng, MPhil, PhD: biodiversity, conservation, capitalism and social exclusion; epistemologies of human/non-human relationships; political ecology and social movements; dryland ecology, nomadism and non-equilibrium dynamics.
        • Isobel Tomlinson, BSc, MSc, PhD: agriculture policy, alternative food and farming networks, organic farming, agroecology, tree and plant disease and pest management.
        • Paul Watt, BA, CertEd, MSc, MPhil, PhD: urban geography; urban sociology; urban regeneration; social housing; 2012 London Olympics; cities and socio-spatial inequality; social class; suburbanisation and suburbia; discourse analysis and urban policy; social geography of youth.
        • Karen Wells, BA, MSc, PhD: cultural and social urban geography, particularly in relation to children and childhood; transnational spaces and identities.

        International Childhood Studies

        • Karen Wells, BA, MSc, PhD: constructions and experiences of childhood with a particular focus on the impacts of globalisation on the material and visual cultures of childhood.
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