The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Geographies of Social Change


We have a well-established research strength in applied, critical understanding of cities and urbanism. Geographies of social change encompasses the work of 16 staff and a large number of current or recently completed postgraduate students.

The core of our research is attention to the changing social geographies of towns and cities. We explore often long-standing and always important social issues in projects that are both methodologically and theoretically innovative.

We seek to understand the everyday social geographies of urban life and to explore the intersections and inequalities which shape those geographies.

Ideas about identity, families and households, health, welfare and care, infrastructures and community run through our research. These lead us to connect with issues of gender, race, ethnicity and migration, youth, religion, class, health, housing, energy and environment, among others.

We are proud of both our local research, building on collaborative projects with communities across the North East, and of our global collaborations. The international work many of us undertake showcases specialist research skills and allows us to draw on a wide range of contexts and experiences in seminars and workshops.

These international collaborations also support the work of our postgraduate students who have, in recent years, undertaken research in Australia, Poland, Peru, Colombia, Nigeria, Serbia, South Africa, Thailand, Bolivia and the UK. Our interdisciplinary engagements mean that many of us work closely with our colleagues in other subjects.

A number of members of our group are also active members of the Cultural Significance of Place faculty research group. Research in this strand has led to the publication of important monographs that have shaped agendas in critical social geographies:

  • Cities and Gender (Jarvis)
  • Domesticating Neoliberalism (Stenning)
  • Gender, Youth and Culture: Young Masculinities and Femininities (Nayak)
  • Left in the Past: Radicalism and the Politics of Nostalgia (Bonnett)
  • Young People, Place and Identity (Hopkins)

It has also attracted funding from a variety of sources, including academic (including ESRC, AHRC, EPSRC, Nuffield, Leverhulme Trust and the British Academy), policy (such as the Department for Transport, the Scottish Government, English Heritage, and the Department for Communities and Local Government) and industry (Northern Gas Networks, Northern Power Grid).

Through these collaborations, we engage with a range of key policy agendas, including those around citizenship, asylum and migration, volunteering, community, energy, environment, health and faith.

The co-ordinator of this cluster is Michael Richardson.

We are always interested in recruiting PhD students or postdoctoral researchers on topics related to our research areas.


Our research group staff have significant experience and expertise in analysis of geographies of social change.

StaffList: Geographies of Social Change

Dr Matt Benwell
Lecturer in Human Geography

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 3935

Professor Alastair Bonnett
Professor of Social Geography

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6439

Professor Anthony Champion
Senior Research Investigator

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6437

Dr Amanda Chisholm
Lecturer in International Politics

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8021

Emeritus Professor Mike Coombes
Prof. of Geographic Information

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8014

Dr Alison Copeland
Lecturer in Human Geography

Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 3088

Dr Robin Finlay
Research Associate


Professor Peter Hopkins
Professor of Social Geography and Research Director for Geography

Telephone: (0191) 208 3924

Dr Helen Jarvis
Reader in Social Geography

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6959

Dr Caleb Johnston
Lecturer in Human Geography

Dr Robert Lawshaw
Lecturer in Geography

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 3918

Dr Wen Lin
Lecturer in Human Geography

Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 6432

Dr Graeme Mearns
Research Associate

Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 4729

Dr Kawtar Najib
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow


Professor Anoop Nayak
Professor in Social and Cultural Geography

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6347

Professor Rachel Pain
Professor of Human Geography


Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 3557

Dr Gareth Powells
Lecturer in Human Geography

Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 6361

Dr Michael Richardson
Lecturer in Human Geography

Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 7740

Professor Alison Stenning
Professor of Social & Economic Geography

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8017

Dr Simon Tate
School Director of Excellence in Learning and Teaching (DELT)

Telephone: 0191 208 3495

Dr Audrey Verma
Research Associate

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7496


Our research projects have included subjects as diverse as the geography of housing market areas in the UK and collaborative housing and community resilience.

Postgraduates' Projects

Our postgraduates are working on a wide variety of power, space, politics subjects. These range from the geopolitical imagination of video gamers to exploration of racist perpetrators in the North East of England.

Eleojo Abubakar The Socio-Spatial Coverage and Inequality of Healthcare Services in Nigeria
Ursula Balderson Environmental injustice and social conflict: social movements against mining pollution and over-extraction of water sources in the Andes

Alessandro Boussalem

Lives at the intersection: Exploring LGBTQ subjectivities in Brussels, Belgium
Carl Bonner-Thompson 'No Camp, No Fem': Embodied Geographies of Masculinities, Sexualities and Grindr 
Arezu Bari Making Informality Work: Self-Help Housing and Right to City
Daniel Bos Answering the Call of Duty? The geopolitical imagination of video gamers
Abraham Wilbert Den Hoed Everyday patterns of ageing populations: issues of access and mobility in the urban context
Robin Finlay The ‘Orient’ in the ‘Occident’: The spatial, social and cultural dynamics of the Moroccan diaspora in Granada, Spain
Graham Gaunt Expectations and aspirations: the transition to the adulthood for working class young men in the de-industrialised North East region
Quan Gao Religion, migration and the (post)secular city: politics and poetics of migrant-worker Christians in post-reform Shenzhen, China
Matthew Hanchard Anchoring securities and mobilities: towards a digital sociology of maps
Tessa Holland Exploring the potential of co-creation in the convivial politics of Cittaslow (slow towns) UK
Nathar Iqbal Exploring everyday social and political geographies and encounters of non-heterosexual Muslims in the UK
Jennifer Lloyd Embodying Difference: Female transnationals’ embodied experiences of identity, emotions and culture. A study of female transnationals within Singapore
Hannah Lyons Assembling the nation: spatialising young, religious American's affective experiences of the nation, fear and danger in the everyday
Ann Lynn Murphy Military Landscape: Space, Place and Identity Issues for Spouses of British Army Personnel
Elinor Predota Young men in Woods and Forests
Ayham Rezk Population changes and labour market in Syria
Rebecca Richardson Place Branding for Urban Development: NewcastleGateshead in Comparative International Context
Lexy Seedhouse Be(com)ing Indigenous in the Time of Extraction: (Re)articulating Identities in the Context of Peru’s Ley de Consulta Previa.
Jenny Smith Home from Home? Intercultural Interactions, Identity and Belonging for Refugees living in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
Mai Cecilie Stabell Petroleum related FDI, Local Conditions and Poverty Reduction. The Macae region of Brazil
Maddy Thompson Migrant Destinations and the Geographical Imaginations of Trainee Female Nurses in Metro Manila
Clare Vaughan Violence and Fear in Homeless Careers: A Biographical Investigation of Young Women at Risk of Homelessness
Andrea Wilkinson Climate Change and Fairtrade Agriculture – Securing Livelihoods in Peru
Isabel Williams Cartographies of Heritage: Mapping the Interpretations of Landscape
Joanna Wiseman The (im)possibility of belonging? The experiences of young asylum seekers in Scotland