The Cities doctoral research programme offers an excellent environment for innovative and interdisciplinary graduate research on cities, space and urbanism. Students come to the MPhil/PhD Cities from a range of academic and professional backgrounds, sharing an interest in linking the social and physical study of urban issues.
Image of Bankside Mix advertising, Hopton Street from 'On tea and culture' by Corinna Dean, citiesLAB 2.
Applying to do a PhD with us
The Urban Sociology Research Cluster within the Department of Sociology welcomes PhD applications related to the changing dynamics of urban space and society. Our range of supervisory expertise includes scholars within the Department of Sociology and those connected to the Cities Programme and LSE Cities research centre. We offer the choice of registering for a PhD in Sociology drawing explicitly on the discipline of urban sociology, and a PhD in Cities which seeks to combine sociological concerns with the field of city design (please note however that we are only able to offer one or two places a year at most on the PhD Cities).
For more information about what we offer and the kind of applications we are interested in, please read the following guidelines: Urban Sociology Cluster PhD Outline (PDF)
PhD news and updates
The theses of Cities Programme PhD students who have been awarded their doctorates can now be found online along with those of other students in the Department of Sociology, see LSE Theses Online.
Günter Gassner (PhD 2013) is leaving LSE, where he has been Course Tutor in Sociology and City Design since 2014, to take take up a new position as Lecturer in Urban Design in the School of Geography and Planning at Cardiff University from September 2016. Günter has contributed his design expertise and critical insights to the MSc City Design Research Studio since 2009/10. He has also brought his engagement with social and spatial theory and his commitment to open and questioning intellectual inquiry to the Cities by Design course, as co-teacher with Ricky Burdett.
Dr Iliana Ortega-Alcázar (PhD 2008) has published her book Autoconstrucción de vivienda, espacio y vida familiar en la Ciudad de México (Self-help housing, space and family life in Mexico City) - see Books by our graduates, below. Iliana is a Research Fellow at the University of Southampton and currently working on a project with Eleanor Wilkinson looking at the impact of cuts to housing benefit in the private rental sector on protected groups: http://lhacuts.uk/.
Congratulations to Torsten Schroeder who has won the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) President's Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis. The award was announced at the RIBA President's Medal and Research awards ceremony in London on 2 December 2015 and was presented by RIBA President Jane Duncan (right) and Chair of the Research and Innovation Group Professor Flora Samuel. Torsten’s thesis “Translating the concept of sustainability into architectural design practices: London’s City Hall as an Exemplar” (2014) was conducted in the LSE Cities Programme and supervised by Professor Mike Savage and Professor Ricky Burdett.
Torsten is now teaching at Eindhoven University of Technology, where he is Assistant Professor in Architectural, Design and Engineering, Department of the Built Environment.
Congratulations to Katherine Robinson, who was awarded her PhD in March 2015. Her thesis, which was passed without corrections, is titled: 'An everyday public? Placing public libraries in London and Berlin'. She is now working as a researcher on Triaging Values, an ESRC research project at Goldsmiths Sociology.
Congratulations to our latest successful doctoral candidates Corinna Dean, Richard Stockton Dunlap and Torsten Schroeder, Corinna for 'Establishing the Tate Modern Cultural Quarter: social and cultural regeneration through art and architecture', Richard for 'Reassessing Ronchamp: the historical context, architectural discourse and design development of Le Corbusier's Chapel Notre Dame-du-Haut' and Torsten for 'Translating the concept of sustainability into architectural design practices: London’s City Hall as an exemplar. '
Alasdair Jones's new book On South Bank: the production of public space (Ashgate 2014 - see below) was launched at an event at LSE on 9 December 2014, with respondent Phil Hubbard, Professor of Urban Studies, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent. The event was chaired by Professor Fran Tonkiss, for details see poster (PDF).
Congratulations to successful doctoral candidates Günter Gassner, Adam Kaasa and Daniel Kilburn, who were awarded their PhDs in 2014, Günter for his thesis ‘Unfinished and unfinishable: London’s skylines’, Adam for ‘Writing, Drawing, Building: The Architecture of Mexico City, 1938-1964’, and Dan for ‘Together, Apart? Situating Social Relations and Housing Provision in the Everyday Life of New-build Mixed-tenure Housing Developments’.
Books by our graduates
Dr Iliana Ortega-Alcázar (PhD 2008) has published her book Autoconstrucción de vivienda, espacio y vida familiar en la Ciudad de México (Self-help housing, space and family life in Mexico City) as a co-edition between FLACSO-México and PUEC-UNAM (2016). The book takes us inside the complex multi-family plots that make up the consolidated self-help settlements of Mexico City. Based on an ethnographic study of Santo Domingo, it offers a novel interpretation of urban consolidation and densification processes in the global South. The book examines, through a cultural lens, how extended families cluster in multifamily plots, developing an intense communal life. What is at heart is not the form that the houses take as they expand but the process of building itself; a process laden with social meaning and potential for change.
Dr Susan Parham's latest book is Food and Urbanism: The Convivial City and a Sustainable Future (Bloomsbury, 2015). Moving from the table, kitchen, dining room, and home garden to the food market, townscape, green space, suburbs, peri-urban edges, wider conurbations and rural regions, the book explores the urbanism connections between food and place at a range of nested scales expressed in past and present design and socio-spatial practices.
Susan Parham is Head of Urbanism at the University of Hertfordshire, and completed her PhD on London's food quarters in the Cities Programme in 2009. Click on cover image right for publisher's webpage, and see below for more on Susan Parham's first book.
Dr Alasdair Jones (PhD 2008) is Assistant Professor in Qualitative Research Methodology in LSE’s Department of Methodology, teaching research design and qualitative research methods. Alasdair has also been made an Associate of LSE Cities and is currently writing up research conducted in Sydney, Australia, into the fit between sustainable design features of masterplanned developments and their residents’ living practices. For further information on Alasdair’s work see his profile in the Department of Methodology. Drawing on his Cities Programme doctoral work, Alasdair’s book On South Bank: the production of public space has been published by Ashgate (2014), click on cover image right for publisher's webpage.
Dr Robin J. H. Kim (PhD 2010, now Research Fellow at UCL and Visiting Professor at Dongguk University, Seoul) has published a new book: Industrial Heritage and Urban Regeneration (Dolbegae Publishing Press, 2013). With case studies in 13 European cities including London, Paris and Madrid, the text explores the remaking of industrial estates and buildings as an effective means of ‘materialising’ environmental, economic and social sustainability. The book will be translated for publication in English.
Dr Susan Parham's first book Market Place: Food quarters, design and urban renewal in London (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Dec 2012) was launched with an event at LSE on 11 June 2013 chaired by Dr Fran Tonkiss, Director of the Cities Programme, with Tim Butler, Professor of Geography at King's College London, in discussion with Susan. Are food quarters developing in London? If that’s the case, are these no more than artful settings for people to play out a middle class ‘habitus’ based on distinction about food? Is food just another ‘field’ in London’s relentless gentrification? Or are these places something more? Do new interconnections between physical design and socio-spatial practices in relation to food promise to offer cities greater conviviality and sustainability? Might they provide interesting models for food-informed design and planning elsewhere?
Dr Suzanne Hall, former PhD student and now Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Research Fellow at LSE Cities has had her first book published: City Street and Citizen: The Measure of the Ordinary (Routledge, April 2012). Based on her work on London's Walworth Road for her PhD thesis (Cities Programme 2009) it asks: 'How can we learn from a multicultural society if we don’t know how to recognise it? The contemporary city is more than ever a space for the intense convergence of diverse individuals who shift in and out of its urban terrains. The city street is perhaps the most prosaic of the city’s public parts, allowing us a view of the very ordinary practices of life and livelihoods.' For more information click on cover image right for publisher's webpage.
Olivia Muñoz-Rojas’s book Ashes and Granite: Destruction and Reconstruction in the Spanish Civil War and Its Aftermath came out in June 2011. Based on her PhD dissertation (Cities/Sociology 2009), it is published by Sussex Academic Press in collaboration with the LSE Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies.
Olivia's essay ‘Metonyms, metaphors, cities and the city’ (‘Metonimias, metáforas, ciudades y ciudad’) was awarded the 2011 Fermín Caballero Prize by the regional Association of Sociology of Castilla La Mancha (ACMS) (Spain).
Writing Cities was a collaboration between research students at the Cities Programme at LSE, the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, MIT Media LAB, Harvard Graduate School of Design and Harvard Law School. Click on image right to read Writing Cities 1: 'How do views shape words: How do words shape cities?' (eds. Hall, Suzanne, Fernández Arrigoitía, Melissa and Dinardi, Cecilia, LSE, 2010). (PDF).
Writing Cities 2: 'Distance and Cities: Where do we stand?' (eds. Gassner, Gunter, Kaasa, Adam and Robinson, Katherine, LSE, 2012) is also available to read as a PDF, click on image below: