Geographical Sciences (Human Geography)

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Awards available PhD, MPhil
Programme length MPhil: One year full-time;
two years part-time
PhD: Four years full-time;
seven years part-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Open to international students Yes
Start date Most students will start in September 2017, however other dates can be considered. Please contact the postgraduate student administrator to discuss the available options.

Programme overview

The School of Geographical Sciences is a leading international centre for research. It has been ranked the top geography department in the UK in every government assessment of research excellence. The graduate school is integral to this success.

The excellence of Bristol's social science research was confirmed by the latest Research Excellence Framework. Overall, when intensity is taken into account, the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law ranks second in the country, while the School of Geographical Sciences ranked first.

We have a large and vibrant graduate community, focusing both on PhDs by research and on taught programmes. The graduate community has a strong international and interdisciplinary flavour, and offers an exceptional academic environment for postgraduate research.

Research opportunities span a variety of subjects at the leading edge of geographical research. There is also a range of exciting possibilities for interdisciplinary research that cross and connect research groups and departments. We urge you to consult the websites of individual members of staff as well as websites that detail collective research interests.

Alternatively, you may be interested in our PhD in Geographical Sciences (Physical Geography).

Fees for 2017/18

Full-time fees


Part-time fees


Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

Alumni scholarship

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a ten per cent reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni scholarship.

Funding for 2017/18

The Faculty of Social Sciences and Law has an allocation of 1+3 and +3 ESRC scholarships. Applicants may also be interested in applying for funding from the University of Bristol scholarship fund or alumni PhD scholarship fund. 

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree in a relevant subject or an equivalent qualification and a Master's qualification from a UK university (or equivalent).

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Application method Online application form
English language requirements Profile D
Further information about English language requirements
Admissions statement Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Research groups

There are three main research groups:

  • Geographies of Political Economy
    Research expertise includes neoliberalism, globalisation, governmentality, regulation and analytical political economy.
  • Historical and Cultural Geography
    Main interests include the history of geographical thought and the history of science, cultural landscapes, geographies of performance and issues of textuality.
  • Spatial modelling
    Research focuses on quantitative analysis of social, housing, health and political data. Expertise in methods including multi-level modelling, GIS, spatial statistics, spatial time-series analysis, ecological inference and non-linear systems.

Staff profiles

Geographies of Political Economy

Dr Adam Dixon, (Reader), Comparative and international political economy; political and economic geographies of finance and financial institutions.

Dr Malcolm Fairbrother, (Senior Lecturer, Research Fellow), Comparative and international political economy; development; globalisation; inequality; nature-society relationships; qualitative comparative methods; quantitative research methods; trust and social capital.

Dr Maria Fannin, (Senior Lecturer), Governmentality and the body feminist theory political economy of science and technology.

Dr Sean Fox, (Lecturer), Comparative historical research; conflict and violence demography; political economy of development ; public policy; quantitative methods ; Sub-Saharan Africa and East/Southeast Asia; urban studies.

Dr Mark Jackson, (Senior Lecturer), Contemporary and historical urbanisation; human/natural interaction; postcolonial geography; social theory; visual culture.

Dr Ann Laudati, (Lecturer), Conservation and development; natural resource exploitation and conflict; political ecology; Sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr Julie MacLeavy, (Senior Lecturer), Political and economic geographies of work and welfare; urban studies and gender.

Dr Naomi Milner, Agrarian justice movements; political claims to land and citizenship; political economies of soil and seeds; theories of politics and aesthetics.

Historical and Cultural Geography

Dr John-David Dewsbury, (Senior Lecturer), Cultural geography, in particular the performing arts; embodied practices and performativity in everyday life; post-structural theory.

Dr Paul Glennie, (Senior Lecturer), Food and agrarian change; geographies of times and timing; historical geography, especially of late-medieval and early modern England (consumption and consumer societies, urbanism, demography).

Professor Robert Mayhew, (Professor), Historical geography and intellectual history; history of geographical thought.

Dr Merle Patchett, (Lecturer), ' More-than-human' geographies: museum geographies or the geographies of collections; architectural practices and aesthetics, built space, design and lived experience; art-geography collaborations.

Dr Yvonne Sherratt, Continental philosophy and intellectual history and in geographies of knowledge.

Spatial Modelling

Professor Richard Harris, (Professor), Geographies of education; quantitative geography; social geography; spatial statistics.

Professor Ron Johnston, (Professor), Electoral and political geography; ethnicity; the history of human geography.

Professor Kelvyn Jones, (Professor), Geography of health; multilevel modelling; spatial data analysis.

Dr David Manley, (Senior Lecturer), Advanced quantitative analysis (especially of large and complex datasets); neighbourhood effects; segregation, inequalities, social geography.

Professor Clive Sabel, (Chair in Quantitative Geography), Exploratory spatial data analysis GIS; geography of Health; GeoVisualisation ; social inequalities

Dr Winnie Wang, (Senior Lecturer), China; population and urban geography; quantitative methods.

How to apply
Application deadline:

We welcome applications at any time of year; early application is advised. The deadline for funded applications will be mid-February 2017 (the ESRC and University of Bristol funding application deadline is still to be confirmed).

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, applying for a visa and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

  • 51% of research is world-leading (4 star)
  • 33% of research is internationally excellent (3 star)
  • 14% of research is recognised internationally (2 star)
  • 2% of research is recognised nationally (1 star)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

Get in touch

Postgraduate Student Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 7328 Email:

School of Geographical Sciences
University of Bristol
University Road
Bristol BS8 1SS


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