GY460      Half Unit
Techniques of Spatial Economic Analysis

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Steve Gibbons S511


This course is available on the MPhil/PhD in Economic Geography, MPhil/PhD in Regional and Urban Planning Studies, MSc in Environmental Economics and Climate Change, MSc in Local Economic Development, MSc in Regional And Urban Planning Studies, MSc in Statistics (Social Statistics), MSc in Statistics (Social Statistics) (Research) and MSc in Urban Policy (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The number of students that can be accommodated is limited. If the course is over-subscribed, places will be allocated at the Department’s discretion and a waiting list may be created. For further details, please contact your relevant Programme Coordinator


Students must have a good understanding of statistics and applied micro-econometrics at an undergraduate level or, for example, have studied Applied Quantitative Methods (GY428) in Michaelmas term or another course which introduces topics such as instrumental variables and panel data methods. 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, R 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. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

30 hours of teaching in LT comprising computer classes and lectures, plus 2 hour practical surgery for projects in the ST.  The learning goals of this course are to be able understand methods appropriate for spatial quantitative economic analysis, to be able to interpret the results of this type of analysis and to be able to produce an independent piece of research using these methods. Lectures provide an introduction to the relevant topics. Students will work in groups in the computer classes to complete tasks related to these learning goals, partly by replicating results from papers taken from the economics literature, assisted by readings, example code and demonstrations. There will be 2 hour computer classes each week in which students can work on these activities, but successful completion of the course will require work on this material outside the class. For assessment, students complete a short research project independently outside the class, with guidance from the course teacher offered during dedicated office hours (30 mins offered as a minimum per student). There is an additional practical surgery for projects early in the summer term.

Formative coursework

Throughout the term, progress and understanding will be assessed by short in-class assessments. Students will received written feedback on one piece of work, such as answers on questions related to one of the computer class assignments.

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.


Project (100%, 5000 words) in the ST.

A quantitative research project of not more than 5000 words to be handed in at a specified date in the ST (100%). This project is carried out independently, but with guidance and support from teaching staff.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 18.6
Merit 40
Pass 28.6
Fail 12.9

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2018/19: 29

Average class size 2018/19: 30

Controlled access 2018/19: No

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