GY313      Half Unit
Firms and Economic Geography: Location, Technology and Innovation

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Davide Rigo


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Geography with Economics. This course is available on the BA in Geography, BSc in Economic History and Geography and BSc in Environmental Policy with Economics. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


Students should have normally taken EC100 or EC102, and one or more of: EC201, GY209 or GY222

Course content

This course aims to develop theoretical and empirical understanding of spatial economic processes in order to study and evaluate a wide range of issues and policies. Particular emphasis will be put on regional economies, business and worker location decisions, focusing in particular on models of the location of economic and innovation activity with a particular emphasis on regional economies. We will analyse the New Economic Geography theories and the agglomeration of economic activity, with a particular focus on EU integration as a testing ground. We will also look at the global and local knowledge economy, focusing on core aspects of a society based on knowledge and technical progress and how this proceeds hand in hand with the enlargement of markets and the intensification of exchange. We will also explore the seeming contradiction that geographically localized knowledge may be increasingly significant just as so much of our world becomes more globalized.

Topics covered:

1. Core-periphery patterns and New Economic Geography theories

2. Formal tests of New Economic Geography models

3. Geographical clustering of firms

4. Spatial distribution of firms, skills and growth

5. Geographical clustering of innovative activities

6. Externalities: knowledge spillovers, networks and agglomeration

7. Relatedness, path dependency and resilience

8. Location strategies of multinational enterprises

9. The impact of foreign investment


In the Department of Geography and Environment, teaching will be delivered through a combination of classes/seminars, pre-recorded lectures, live online lectures and other supplementary interactive live activities.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures.


This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Michaelmas Term.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to prepare for group discussion of the main readings and hand in a short essay for formative assessment.

Indicative reading

  • Krugman P. (1991), “Geography and Trade” MIT Press, Cambridge (Mass.)
  • Baldwin, R. and C. Wyplosz (2009), “Economics of European Integration”, McGraw Hill, 3rd edition.
  • Puga, D. (2002), “European Regional Policies in the Light of Recent Location Theories”, Journal of Economic Geography 2(4), 372-406.
  • Combes P. and Overman H.G. (2003), “The spatial distribution of economic activities in the EU”, CEPR discussion paper 3999. Sections 1-3.
  • Davis, D. and Weinstein, D. (2003), “Market access, economic geography and comparative advantage”, Journal of International Economics 59(1): 1-23.
  • Ellison G., Glaeser E.,and Kerr W., (2010) “What Causes Industry Agglomeration? Evidence from Coagglomeration Patterns”, American Economic Review, 100(3): 1195-1213.
  • Moretti, E. (2004) Human capital externalities in cities. In: Handbook of Urban and Regional Economics, Volume 4.
  • Carlino G., Kerr W.R. (2015), Chapter 6 - Agglomeration and Innovation, in Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Volume 5, Pages 349-404. 
  • D’Este P., Guy F., and Iammarino S. (2012), “Shaping the formation of university-industry research collaborations: what type of proximity does really matter?”, Journal of Economic Geography, 13, 537-558.
  • Neffke F., Henning M., and Boschma R. (2011), “How do regions diversify over time? Industry relatedness and the development of new growth paths in regions”, Economic Geography, vol. 87(3), pp. 237-265.
  • Head, K., Mayer, T. (2004), “Market Potential and the Location of Japanese Investment in the European Union”, Review of Economics and Statistics, 86 (4): 959–972.
  • Javorcik S. B., 2004, “Does Foreign Direct Investment Increase the Productivity of Domestic Firms? In Search of Spillovers Through Backward Linkages”, American Economic Review, 94 605-627.


Coursework (100%, 3000 words) in the LT.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2019/20: 32

Average class size 2019/20: 16

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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