School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Dr Andrew Law

Senior lecturer in Town Planning and Degree Programme Director of the BA (Hons) Architecture and Urban Planning


I am a lecturer in Town Planning.

Academic Overview

I am a sociologist with a strong interest in continental philosophy, sociological theory, historical sociology, cultural sociology and cultural studies in particular.  Specifically, throughout my career, I have often sought to understand the role that sociology can play in understanding and contextualising built heritage, urban conservation, architecture(s), planning and landscapes.

Recent Work

In the last few years in particular, my work has been mainly concerned with research on Chinese culture, nostalgia, politics, heritage and urban development. To develop these investigations I am continually trying to improve and develop my Mandarin (albeit very slowly). However, because I am still finding my feet, I often work in teams with other Chinese researchers to develop various project investigations.

On my travels to China I have been lucky enough to visit the following very interesting places: Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong, Jining, Macau, Qufu, Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuhan, Xiamen and Xi'an.  In the near future, I hope to visit more places in the PRC.

Key words that define my research

Chinese identity, Chineseness, Imaginaries, nostalgia, culture, cultural studies, heritage, the modern, modernism, modernity, multiple-modernities, urban development, China.

Membership of academic societies.


I am a member of BACS - The British Association of Chinese Studies.

I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

I am a member of the China ports network –


I am a member of our HASS Faculty Research Group - Asian Studies.

I am a member of the HASS Faculty Anthropocene Research Group.

Applications for Doctoral Work

I welcome applications for doctoral study; I welcome students, who want to develop projects on urban development, time, memory, nostalgia, identity and heritage; And of course, reflecting my recent work, I am very interested in project students that are keen to study issues in and around Chinese culture, nostalgia, politics, heritage and urban development. 

Languages: Mandarin

Above tourist level Mandarin (but a long way to go yet): On the 6th of January, 2016 I learnt that I passed the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) level 2 Mandarin Chinese Proficiency test.

In the future I shall study for the HSK Level 3 Mandarin Chinese Proficiency test.

Languages: other

Basic French

Basic Japanese

Outside of Work

Outside of work I am a keen walker, runner and Chess player.  I also spend my time reading and sometimes trying to write fiction. I am also a collector: I collect novels, CD's and wacky movies. I also collect Vintage travel posters and a series of tasteless Hawaiian shirts.  


Specific research interests

From the beginning of my academic career in 1999 to the present, my research has been concerned with the use and abuse of history, historical , historical simulacra, nostalgia and idea(s) surrounding the concept of ‘golden ages’; specifically I have often sought to explore the links between nostalgia, historical imaginaries within social movements and the built environment (including architectures, town planning and landscape); whilst my early career was concerned with these movements in relation to English case studies, since 2010 my focus for these investigations became the People's republic of China (PRC). In recent years, I have explored four specific lines of research in China; this has included 1) research into historic place-branding and the use of historical themes and imaginaries in the marketing of Chinese cities such as Xi'an, Wuhan and Shanghai; 2) research into a nostalgic social movement in China known as the Hanfu movement (a movement of young people who wear pre-Qing Dynasty clothing); 3) research into nostalgic consumerism (particularly colonial consumerism) and 4) research into the role that anti-colonial humiliation discourses have played in new forms of affectual governance.

Presentations for 2017

  • 4th of December, 2017: ‘Absent-present’ heritage: the cultural water heritage of dwelling and entanglements of humans and non-humans on the Changjiang (Yangtze) River’, paper given for the Risks to life, heritage, and community on the Yangtze River’, Confucius Institute, Newcastle University.
  • 24th of June, 2017: “The role of history, nostalgia, and place in the construction of entrepreneurial Chinese cities” paper given to the ‘Asia in Motion: Beyond Borders and Boundaries’ conference, as part of the Association of Asian Studies (ASS) Asia Annual Conference, entitled 24th to the 27th of June, 2017. at Korea University in Seoul, South Korea.
  • 26th of May, 2017: ‘The Hanfu movement?’ Short paper given to the GURU symposium for the Identities, Culture and Heritage theme (10 minutes, plus panel questions).
  • 1st of February, 2017: ‘Flooding and pollution: Risks to the physical, human and architectural (urban) heritage of the Yangtze River’, (The Yangtze River project), informal research presentation to the Department of Architecture, Construction and Engineering Built Environment at the Politecnico di Milano.

Presentations in 2016

  • Law, A. (2016) ‘Searching for “deep modernities” and constructing Chinese modern identities: using history and heritage in the indigenisation of global capitalist modernity in Chinese cities’. Reclaiming Identity and (Re) Materialising Pasts, Approaches to Heritage Conservation in China, Suzhou, China. 6-8th of April, 2016.

Presentations in 2015

  • 11th of December, 2015: “What is social science?  What is Chinese identity and what is Hanfu?” presentation to the School of Modern Languages Newcastle University – for their Conference.
  • 4th of December, 2015: ‘Referential reflexivity and access in China: the unsaid and positionality’, Doing International Fieldwork in Developing Contexts: Postgraduate Training workshop.
  • 14th of September, 2015: ‘Social theory, social science and qualitative methods’, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University.
  • 30th of July, 2015: ‘Qualitative methodologies: theory, social science and methods’ International Design Summer School, Sino-US-Dutch weeks, School of Urban Design, Wuhan University.
  • 5th of March, 2015: ‘The construction of Historical imaginaries: Constructing Hankou merchant port nostalgia in Wuhan and Tang dynasty nostalgia in Xi’an’.  (Open to the public as well as academic staff); School of Geography and Planning, University of Liverpool.
  • 13th of February, 2015: “What is social science?  What is Chinese identity and what is Hanfu?” presentation to the School of Modern Languages Newcastle University – for their Simultaneous interpreting practice.  Lecture given to students in a Language Booth Classroom.

Presentations in 2014

  • 4th of September, 2014: ‘The construction of Historical imaginaries: Remaking the Tang dynasty in Xi’an, framing heritage, land and Buddhism’, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University.
  • 4th of Sept, 2014: ‘The problem of the creative individual: How can we nurture creative individuals in China?’ 5th International Cultural Trade Forum; Beijing International Studies University (BISU).
  • 10th of June, 2014: ‘The construction of Historical imaginaries: Remaking the Tang dynasty in Xi’an, framing heritage, land and Buddhism’ informal PUMAH workshop; the Beehive Newcastle University.  

Presentations in 2013

  • 24th of June, 2013: "The history of Mock Tudor and its relevance to the global middle classes today", Xian University of Architecture and Technology. 
  • 28th of May, 2013: “The history of built conservation in the UK: emerging perspectives on conservation in the UK and China." Xian University of Architecture and Technology. 
  • 5th of May, 2013:  “The problem of sustainability and the historic city: conservation cases in China”, Wuhan University of Technology
  • 15th of March, 2013: "Demolition, development or the heritage dividend? Forgetting and remembering the value of our own culture", Planning School, Wuhan University.
  • 8th of March, 2013: "Demolition, development or the heritage dividend? Forgetting and remembering the value of our own culture", Faculty of Spatial Sciences, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University.
  • 1st of March, 2013: "Demolition, development or the heritage dividend? Forgetting and remembering the value of our own culture", Beijing Tsinghua Urban Planning and Design Institute, Department of Tourism and Scenic Area Planning



I am Degree Programme Director for the BA degree Architecture and Urban Planning


My teaching responsibilities can be broken down as follows:

Current PhD/MPhil Supervision

Xi Chen - PhD by creative practice - (with Prof Chiles and Dr Beattie).

Rorie Parsons - Social Practice theory and networks of cycling - ESRC Funded - (With Prof Vigar).

Amelia Joicey - Northern Stage - DTC AHRC awards - AHRC Funded - (with Dr Rosalind Haslett).

Asmarani Februandair - Chinese heritage and architecture - Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education - (with Prof. Pendlebury).

Ang Gao - The Chinese beautiful village policy - PhD by Creative Film Practice - (with Dr Ian McDonald). 

Completed PhD's 

Dr Zhang Su - Feng Shui, urban design and planning (Self-funded). (with Prof Madanipour).

Dr Tom Brigden - The Richmond View: transatlantic landscapes (AHRC Funded) - 2014. (With Professor Sharr).

Postgraduate teaching

Co-ordinator of the SAPL supplementary training sessions - Marxism, critical realism, epistemology, post-structuralism, post-phenomenology etc.

Masters teaching: MSc in Town Planning

MSc - Masters dissertation - Contributor

MSc - Conservation and the Historic City - Contributor (with Prof. J Pendlebury) - Lectures on Heritage theory and Claiming the historic city: whose heritage?

MSc - Reflexive practitioner - Contributor - I give lectures on epistemology and deontological ethics.

Undergraduate teaching/supervision

I am a module leader for 4 modules and a contributor on another 4 modules.

Level 3 Modules

BAP/GAP - Dissertation module - Contributor.

BAP/GAP - Planning theory - Module Leader - Marxism, post-modernism, critical pragmatism etc.

Level 2 modules

AUP - Theories of Alternative Practice module - Module leader - Lectures on Marxism, anarchism, feminism, post-modernism, alternative professionalism(s).

AUP - Alternative practice European Fieldtrip - Module leader - Lectures on Amsterdam, Alternative practice and the Netherlands.

BAP/GAP - Understanding cities - Contributor - Lecture on the Cultural City.

Level 1 modules 

AUP - History of Alternative Practice module - Module Leader - Lectures on the history and politics of co-operative planning and architecture.

BAP/GAP/AUP - Social Worlds - Contributor - Lectures on identity, class, sexuality, gender, race and ethnicity.