UoA 32: Geography

1.    The UCL Geography Department is an international leader in geographical research.  It conducts and supervises the highest quality interdisciplinary research across the full spectrum of Geography, including the social and environmental sciences and the humanities.  It retains its longstanding commitment to theoretically informed empirical research, directed towards the better understanding of major social and environmental issues.

2.    The Department is distinguished by the variety of its research, the international scope of its expertise, and the collaborative links it sustains with the global research community.  It embraces a breadth of working styles from tightly organised groups focused on agreed programmes to loosely organised networks where colleagues with similar interests work to individual agendas within a collaborative environment.  This ethos informs the appointment of staff, the mentoring of junior colleagues and the supervision of doctoral students.

3.    Since 2001, the Department has stimulated several major interdisciplinary research initiatives at UCL, most notably the creation of an ‘environmental campus’ alongside Earth Sciences, Space and Climate Physics, and Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, leading to its relocation in 2006 to the refurbished and re-equipped Pearson Building (SRIF, £5.3M+).  It has established the Bloomsbury Environmental Isotope Facility (£676k, Atkinson), the UCL Urban Laboratory (£120+k, Gandy), the UCL Environment Institute (£1M, Maslin), the Chorley Institute for Spatial Data (£450k, Densham, Lewis, Maslin) and the Equiano Centre for Research on the African Diaspora in Britain (Bressey). 

4.    During the review period staff have

  • authored or edited at least 38 books, 38 substantial research reports, 700 papers in international peer-reviewed journals, 230 chapters in books;
  • been awarded 257 research grants, contracts and central facility use worth £7.8M, most notably Battarbee’s EU programme on climate change and freshwater ecosystems, Lewis’ NERC EO Carbon Centre of Excellence and Salt’s Leverhulme-funded programme on migration and citizenship;
  • mentored 10 ESRC Post-doctoral Fellows, recruited 129 graduate students with 78 successfully graduating.

Research Achievements 2001-2007

5.    In 2001 we argued that our research would focus on three main areas of geographical investigation:

  • the nature and causes of environmental change and their implications for human society;
  • geographies of human difference, particularly those associated with processes of globalisation;
  • geographies of governance and institutional change. 

All of these areas have been pursued vigorously as described in paragraphs 8-32.

6.    Departmental research strategy has been thoroughly reviewed in the light of the move to the Pearson Building and extensive staff change in human geography. Five moves to chairs elsewhere and six senior retirements have led to the appointment of 16 new academic staff, including eight Early Career Researchers, allowing the development of new areas of human geography research (eg geopolitics, disease, violence and security, consumption, social movements and identity) and the strengthening of others (eg GIS and spatial analysis, urbanization, migration and mobility, environmental governance, nature and culture, historical geography).  The Pearson Building, with its extensive new laboratories and computational facilities, is a stimulus to new projects in environmental modelling, climate change, freshwater science and Earth Observation (EO).  It will house the whole Department from 2010.

7.    Reflecting these new opportunities, the Department has altered its research groups. In physical geography, whilst ‘Global Environmental Change’ continues to be concentrated in the Environmental Change Research Centre (ECRC), remote sensing research has been merged with environmental monitoring and modelling to create an ‘Environmental Modelling’ group (EMG).  In human geography, there has been more extensive change leading to three new groups: ‘Environment, Landscape and Society’; ‘Mobility, Identity and Security’; and ‘Cities and Urbanization’.

Download full text of the RA5a statement for Geography & Environmental Studies (pdf 200Kb)

Staff names below link to submitted publications:

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