GY460      Half Unit
Techniques of Spatial Economic Analysis

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Steve Gibbons S511


This course is available on the MSc in Environmental Economics and Climate Change, MSc in Local Economic Development, MSc in Real Estate Economics and Finance and MSc in Regional And Urban Planning Studies. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


Students must have a good understanding of statistics and applied micro-econometrics at an undergraduate level or, for example, have studied a course such as Applied Quantitative Methods (GY428) in Michaelmas term. It is advisable to look at the first two key readings listed below before signing up for this course. Students who are comfortable working with computers, data and already have basic familiarity with STATA or other statistics/econometrics software will get the most out of this course.

Course content

The aim of the course is to develop the technical tools necessary to understand and analyse spatial economic and social phenomena and to apply quantitative techniques to analyse economic and social problems, processes and policies at the urban and regional scale. The course also provides a hands-on introduction to using Geographical Information Systems and other spatial computer applications for research purposes, but you should not expect to get a full training in GIS from this course.


Topics typically include: Spatial representation, spatial data and Geographical Information Systems; spatial weights, aggregation and smoothing methods; spatial econometric models and neighbourhood effects; answering causal questions in the spatial context; spatial interaction and discrete choice models; spatial cluster and point pattern analysis; inequality, competition and diversity.


10 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

30 hours of teaching in LT comprising computer classes, lectures, and seminars for discussion of papers. The majority of sessions will take place in a computer classroom and these sessions combine lecture and practical material. Formative feedback will be available on submitted answers to seminar exercises and a past exam paper.

Formative coursework

Throughout the term, students are given the opportunity to provide answers to problem sets, written answers to class exercises and computer workshop tasks, and past examination questions, on which feedback will be given.

Indicative reading

A reading list and outline is available on Moodle. Important readings are

Gibbons, S., H.G Overman and E. Patacchini (2015) Spatial Methods, Ch. 3 in Duranton, G, J.V. Henderson and W. Strange (eds) Handbook of Urban and Regional Economics Vol 5a, Elsevier

Baum-Snow, N. and F. Ferreira (2015) Causal Inference in Urban Economics, Ch. 1 in Duranton, G, J.V. Henderson and W. Strange (eds) Handbook of Urban and Regional Economics Vol 5a, Elsevier

An overview of some topics is provided by: A Fotheringham, C Brunsdon; M Charlton, Quantitative Geography: Perspectives on Spatial Data Analysis. Sage Publications, 2000.


Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Project (50%, 2500 words) in the ST.

An unseen examination of two hours (50%) and a project of not more than 2,500 words to be handed in at a specified date in the ST (50%).

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 11.5
Merit 45.9
Pass 34.4
Fail 8.2

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2014/15: 23

Average class size 2014/15: 22

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills