Prof Ann Varley

Prof Ann Varley

Professor of Human Geography

Dept of Geography

Faculty of S&HS

Joined UCL
1st Apr 1985

Research summary

Ann has a broad range of research interests – from disasters to property titles and from ageing to family law – but her work has focused consistently on urban Mexico and Latin America and revolves around the central theme of housing and the home. She has recently started working on a new line of research: industrial heritage, national identity and urban renewal in Latin America, with fieldwork to date in Chile and Mexico. Her ESRC-funded research on gender and housing in urban Mexico was evaluated as ‘outstanding’. She has also received research funding from the Overseas Development Administration, the British Academy and Santander.

Ann has carried out consultancy work for the Urban Affairs Division of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development; the Swedish Agency for Research Cooperation; and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and Mexico Social Development Ministry. Two of her books have been translated into Spanish for publication in Latin America, with support from the Programa de Capacitación para el Mejoramiento Socio Habitacional (PROMESHA) and from UNIFEM’s Mexico and Central America office.

Research interests:

•Urban land and housing

•Gender, families and households


•Family law and the home

•Law and urban governance

•Property formalization


•Industrial heritage

•Latin America, Mexico, Chile

Teaching summary

1st year:


Writing and Analysis in Geography

2nd year:


Geography of Global Poverty and Development

The Practice of Geography

3rd year:


Gendered Geographies

Human Geography Dissertations convenor


Public and Private Modernities - module shared by human geography Masters and  UCL’s interdisciplinary MA in Gender, Society and Representation.

Social research methods and methodologies

Core Course, Research Methods and Dissertations, M.A. in Gender, Society and Representation


University of London
PhD, Geography | 1985
University of Oxford
BA Hons, Geography | 1980


Ann Varley holds a first class honours degree in Geography from the University of Oxford. Her  doctoral thesis on informal housing in Mexico City won the British-Mexican Society Postgraduate Prize. She worked on an Overseas Development Administration-funded research project on rental and shared housing in Mexico before being appointed lecturer in the Department of Geography. She was appointed Professor of Human Geography in 2009 and became the first social scientist to convene the  UCL Gender Studies programme in 2014.

Ann was Christensen Fellow at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, and was awarded an individual residency at the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center in Bellagio, Italy, both in 2003. She was one of the first recipients of the University of London Research Fellowship and is a member of the ESRC’s Peer Review College. She was one of the first recipients of the University of London Research Fellowship and is a member of the ESRC’s Peer Review College and the advisory panel of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK. She has also served as research evaluator for the Russian Federation Ministry of Science and Technology, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada, the Norwegian Research Council and the Swiss National Science Foundation.

In 2010 Ann was awarded the Busk Medal, one of the senior awards of the Royal Geographical Society, for her work in Mexico.

Ann has been visiting lecturer in the Centro Universitario de Arte, Arquitectura y Diseño, Universidad de Guadalajara; Instituto Mora, Mexico City; the Graduate School and Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin; the Copenhagen Business School; the University of Copenhagen; the Department of International Development Studies, University of Roskilde; the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim; and the Department of Architecture and Design, American University of Beirut.

Ann edits the Bulletin of Latin American Research and is on the editorial advisory board of Home Cultures and, in Mexico, Revista Sociológica and Investigaciones Geográficas.