Cities Programme

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Exploring the relations between city design and the political, economic and cultural organisation of cities

The Cities Programme is dedicated to the understanding of urban society and urban change and focuses on the relationships between the social and spatial life of cities. The Cities Programme provides an innovative environment for critical engagement and creative learning, exploring the relations between city design and the political, economic and cultural organisation of cities. The Programme offers MSc and PhD degrees through the Department of Sociology and is associated with LSE Cities.

About the MSc in City Design and Social Science

This unique master's degree programme provides the opportunity to study city design in a world-leading social sciences university. Design is explored as a field of research and practice that shapes urban space, responds to urban problems, and opens possibilities for social transformation and urban justice. Our interdisciplinary master’s draws in students from across the design disciplines, social and economic sciences, natural sciences, and humanities.

At the heart of the MSc is the City Design and Social Science Research Studio, in which students work together intensively on specific sites in London, developing innovative propositions for urban interventions out of interdisciplinary research and analysis. This work forms the basis of an annual student-produced publication. The Studio also comprises a research trip to a key international urban site. Other core courses in the MSc are focused on city-making, urban design, urban policy, and critical urban theory. The degree includes interdisciplinary optional courses, master classes with outside specialists, and an independent project.

Find out more about the MSc City Design and Social Science

About the 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 advanced research on the social and spatial aspects of urban life. Doctoral supervision is carried out by core Cities Programme faculty. Students may also work with other urban scholars in the Department of Sociology.

Find out more about the MPhil/PhD Cities

Cities Programme Faculty


Suzanne Hall is Associate Professor in Sociology and Co-Director of the Cities Programme. Suzi is an urban ethnographer, and has practised as an architect in South Africa. Her research and teaching interests explore intersections of global migration and urban marginalisation in the context of inequality and resistance. Her research focuses on the street life of brutal borders, migrant economies and urban multi-culture. The research engages with streets in deprived and culturally diverse parts of cities including: the ‘Ordinary Streets’ (supported by an LSE Cities Fellowship); the ‘Super-diverse Streets’ (funded by an ESRC Future Research Leader’s award); The ‘Migrant Margins’ (funded by a Philip Leverhulme Prize 2017). Suzi is author of City, Street and Citizen (2012) and co-editor (with Ricky Burdett) of The Sage Handbook of the 21st Century City.

More information: Staff Page 
Contact details: Room STC S212, 020 7955 7056,

David Madden is Associate Professor in Sociology and Co-Director of the Cities Programme.  He works on urban studies, political sociology and social theory. He has written about housing, public space, urban theory, globalisation, and urban politics in New York City, London, and elsewhere. He holds a PhD from Columbia University and is co-author, with Peter Marcuse, of In Defense of Housing: The politics of crisis (2016).

More information: Staff Page
Contact details: Room STC S209, 020 7955 6593,

Fran Tonkiss is Professor of Sociology, Head of Department and former director of the Cities Programme. Her research and teaching is at the interface of urban and economic sociology, with key research interests in cities and social theory, urban development and design, urban inequalities and spatial divisions. Publications in these fields include Cities by Design: the social life of urban form (2013), Space, the City and Social Theory (2005), and Contemporary Economic Sociology: Globalisation, Production, Inequality (2006). She is the co-author of Market Society: Markets and Modern Social Theory (2001, with Don Slater), and co-editor of Trust and Civil Society (2000, with Andrew Passey). She is managing editor of the leading critical journal, Economy and Society.
More information: Staff page
Contact details: Room STC S205, 020 7955 6601,

Cities Programme Teaching Faculty:

Ricky Burdett is Professor of Urban Studies where he directs LSE Cities and the Urban Age programme, an interdisciplinary investigation of global cities that brings together national and city leaders, academics, designers and civic actors. His work focuses on the social and spatial dynamics of contemporary cities. He has been Visiting Professor in Urban Planning and Design at Harvard University and Global Distinguished Professor at New York University. He was Director of the 10th Venice International Architecture Biennale, Curator of the Global Cities Exhibition at Tate Modern in London and is a Council member of the Royal College of Art. He has played a key role in high-profile urban projects like the London 2012 Olympics and legacy, the Tate Modern and new buildings for the BBC. He was a member of the UK Government Airports Commission and is currently involved in the redevelopment of Penn Station in New York City and advising the City of Bogota on a new 20-year urban development plan. He is editor of The Endless City (2007), Living in the Endless City (2011) and Innovation in Europe’s Cities (2015). He was appointed CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for services to urban planning and design in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List.

More information: Staff Page,  LSE Cities
Contact details: Room TW2 8.01J, 020 7955 7706,

Julia King is an architectural designer and urban researcher at LSE Cities. Her research is concerned with housing, sanitation infrastructure, urban planning, and participatory design processes. She has won numerous awards including a Holcim Award (2011), SEED Award for ‘Excellence in Public Interest Design’ (2014), Emerging Woman Architect of the Year (2014) and short listed for the World Design Impact Prize (2013) and the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award (2014). She has taught at the Bartlett School of Architecture, Architectural Association and the CASS, Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design.

More information: LSE Cities
Contact details: 0207 107 5523,

Dr Philipp Rode is Executive Director of LSE Cities and Senior Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He co-convenes the LSE Sociology Course on ‘City Making: The Politics of Urban Form’. As researcher and consultant he has been directing interdisciplinary projects comprising urban governance, transport, city planning and urban design since 2003. The focus of his current work is on green economy strategies in cities which includes co-directing the cities workstream of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

More information: LSE Cities 
Contact details: Room TW2 8.01I, 020 7955 6483,

Dr Savvas Verdis has been teaching in the Cities Programme for over a decade, first with Richard Sennett and David Frisby and currently with Philipp Rode in subjects that include urban politics and urban economics. He co-convenes the Lent Term course on City-making: The Politics of Urban Form. His studies and research in architecture at Cambridge University, politics at the New School for Social Research and urban economics at University College London look at measurements of quality of life in cities and the economic assessment of infrastructure projects. Savvas is also the founder & director Rankdesk, London’s leading property analytics company. He has been an Onassis Public Benefit Foundation scholar on two occasions and has previously managed a $50 million cultural framework for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

More Information: Experts
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Associated Faculty:

Dr Daniel Kilburn is a Geography and Built Environment Tutor at UCL, and teaches GIS at LSE. He is a Human Geographer with specialisms in urban neighbourhoods, housing, and social research methods.

Sarah Sackman is a barrister practising at Francis Taylor Building in London, where she specialises in public, environmental and urban planning law. Sarah is interested in the relationship between law and the urban environment and how legal doctrines and processes can be designed to promote social justice in the city.

Latest news

Latest edition of Cities News published

The latest edition of Cities News has been published. Published twice a year, the newsletter runs through the latest developments, events and projects of the students, staff and alumni of the MSc City Design and Social Science programme.

Read Cities News March 2021 here

Previous editions of Cities News

April 2020 | July 2019 |January 2019 | July 2018 | January 2018 | July 2017 | January 2017 | July 2016 | January 2016 | July 2015 | January 2015 | July 2014 | January 2014 | July 2013 | January 2013 | July 2012 | January 2012 | July 2011 | January 2011 | July 2010 | January 2010 | July 2009 | January 2009 | July 2008 | January 2008

Studio publications