Home > LSE Cities > Cities Programme > PhD programme


PhD programme

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.

The doctoral programme includes training in research design, practice and presentation in the first year, together with a dedicated ongoing Research Seminar on Cities and Space for students at all year levels, and a range of student-led and international collaborations and initiatives, including the publication citiesLAB (see under Contents) and the collaborative annual conference and publication Writing Cities - see below.  

2014: Congratulations to our latest successful doctoral candidates Günter Gassner, Adam Kaasa and Daniel Kilburn who have all been awarded their PhDs, 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’.

Günter has been teaching with Professor Ricky Burdett on the MSc City Design core course Cities by Design, and has taken a key role in City Design Research Studio during Lent Term 2014. Adam has taken up a position as Research Fellow in the Department of Architecture at the Royal College of Art, working on a collaborative project between the RCA and the University of São Paulo on ‘Public Spaces the Role of the Architect’, which explores the complex legacy of Modernism in London and São Paulo. Dan is now Research Fellow in the National Centre for Research Methods at the University of Southampton. 

Please note the doctoral programme is very small, and we are only able to accept one or two applicants each year at most.  For more information on the PhD Cities and how to apply see Contents panel left.

Books by our graduates

Alasdair Jones (PhD 2008) has recently joined the LSE’s Department of Methodology as an Assistant Professor in Qualitative Research Methodology. In this role he is teaching research design and qualitative research methods, and from summer 2014 he will co-convene a summer school on ethnographic 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. Drawing on his Cities Programme doctoral work, Alasdair’s book On South Bank: the production of public space will be published by Ashgate in June 2014, see publisher's webpage|. For further information on Alasdair’s work see his profile| in the Department of Methodology.

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.

Market Place front cover SP|Dr Susan Parham's 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 - click on cover image right for book details.  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?

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.

City Street and Citizen|Dr Suzanne Hall, former PhD student and now Lecturer in the  Cities Programme and Sociology Department 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 image right for publisher's webpage.

Olivia Muñoz-Rojas’s book Ashes and Granite: Destruction and Reconstruction in the Ashes and Granite (Muñoz-Rojas)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).

For more information about our current PhD students and those who recently completed their doctorate here, please see our PhD students and Previous PhD students pages.

Writing Cities

Writing Cities 1.|Writing Cities is an annual 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.  Last year's conference was held in Cambridge, MA from 10-12 May 2012, on the theme 'Limits'.

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:
Writing Cities 2|


Erasmus scheme

Research students can spend up to 6 months at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University in Istanbul, Turkey.  All LSE students, regardless of nationality, are eligible for an Erasmus grant| for the duration of their stay abroad, provided they have not received an Erasmus grant before.   The value of the grant is EUR 225/month with a minimum stay of 3 months.  For further information, please contact erasmus@lse.ac.uk|.  

Quick links

Cities Programme logo|