School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Dr Andrew Law

Senior Lecturer in Town Planning


I am a Senior lecturer in Town Planning.

Roles and responsibilities - past and present 

10th of June, 2019 - Co-Chair and Advisory Group Academic Coordinator for the Xiamen University Academic Advisory Group.

10th of October, 2018 -  member of the Confucius Institute Steering Committee.

September, 2013 - July, 2018 - Degree Programme Director of the BA (Hons) Architecture and Urban Planning.

Membership of cross faculty and school based research groups

16th of March, 2017 - convener of the internal Newcastle University HASS Faculty Asian Studies Research Group

December, 2016 – June, 2020 - convener of the GURU research theme – Identities, culture and heritage.

Visiting academic positions

I have been either a visiting scholar, visiting researcher and/or a visiting lecturer at the following institutions:

Xi'an Jiaotong University (March-April, 2019); Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (July, 2017); Xiamen University (July, 2017); Xi'an University of Architectural Technology (May-July, 2013); Wuhan University (March-May, 2013); Peking University (February, 2013; August, 2013).

Academic Background

I originally trained as a sociologist although I conducted a PhD in human geography; as a result I am not academically partisan and am interested in the following subjects within both of these disciplines: continental philosophy, sociological theory, geographical thought, historical sociology, historical geography, cultural sociology, cultural geography 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 cultural heritage, intangible heritage, built heritage, architecture(s), town planning and landscapes.

Recent Work: Chinese cultural history and urban studies

In recent years, I have become a very enthusiastic student of Chinese studies (Sinology). I say student because my Mandarin needs to improve and because I am still finding my feet, I often work in teams with other Chinese researchers. Specifically, my research has mainly been concerned with investigations concerning Chinese culture, nostalgia, politics, heritage and urban development.

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

Research led teaching

Stage 3: Chinese Cultural history and urban development: With Ms Qianqian Qin and Prof Rose Gilroy, I now run a stage 3 AUP course which explores the cultural history of Chinese city making and planning.  As well as examining ancient city planning, we also investigate in detail the contemporary status of the Chinese city and the social, cultural, economic and political processes that shape it.

Stage 2: Study visit:  With Ms Qianqian Qin, I now run an undergraduate fieldtrip to Beijing.  The first trip ran this year (March, 2019) during which  we visited scholars, practitioners and town planners at Peking Unversity, (Professor Bin Lu and Professor Pengjun Zhao), the Tsinghua Institute and 798.  We also visit the Forbidden City and the Yuanmingyuan Gardens amongst other things.

Key words that define my research

Chinese identity, Chineseness, historical imaginaries, nostalgia, culture, cultural studies, cultural heritage, intangible heritage, built heritage;

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 the Hong Kong Studies Association (HKSA)

Academic journal Editorial and review positions

11th of September, 2018: invited to be a member of the Editorial (Advisory) Board of the Journal of Chinese Architecture and Urbanism (JCAU)

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 and Chess player.  I also spend my time reading and sometimes trying to write fiction. I love listening to music, reading novels and watching movies. Music wise I am often going back to the down tempo instrumental hip hop scene that emerged in the 1990s; in this respect, I often enjoy listening to music on the Mo Wax and Ninja Tune labels. But in general terms, I am always trying to find new levels of musical mellow. 


Specific research areas:

From the beginning of my academic career in 1999 to the present, my research interests have been concerned with 5 specific areas (with sub-themes); Social theory; historical discourse; the politics of history; heritage studies; and the relationship of these 4 themes/disciplines to architecture and planning.

1) Social theory: The history of ideas and the history of social theory and sociological theory; re-workings of the idea of the collective unconscious or a collective psyche; issues around ideas of authenticity/inauthenticity, in relation to human identity and heritage; debates around the deconstruction of cultural and spatial hermeticism and ideas of social and cultural osmosis.

2) historical discourse and imaginaries: historical discourse in the production of subjectivity; historical imaginaries/historical simulacra; idea(s) surrounding the concept of ‘golden ages’ or in a British context the 'olden days' (or the 'good ole days'); the idea of the 'good life'; the idea of a national dream i.e. the American Dream, the Chinese Dream etc; historical discourses in the production of nationalism/race/ethnicity.

3) The politics of history: theories of history, memory and nostalgia; the use and abuse of history; historical imaginaries/historical simulacra; issues around remembering, forgetting and state led amnesia; nostalgia; heritage.

4) Heritage studies: theories of heritage; cultural heritage; built heritage; Intangible heritage; absent-present heritage; cultural folk practices; heritage as a discursive-material assemblage.

5) architecture and planning: urban growth coalitions; urban branding and urban planning/architecture; historical imaginaries/collective memory/nostalgia and architecture/planning; issues relating to imaginaries, simulacra, simulacrum, simulation and faux, Mock (or ersatz) spaces, places and/or landscapes; cultural heritage and architecture/planning; the uses of history within architecture and planning

Specific empirical areas

I have often sought to explore the links between sociological and human geographical ideas and the built environment - including architectures, town planning and landscape; whilst my early career was concerned with English examples, since 2010 I have investigated Chinese case studies. In recent years, I have explored 6 specific lines of research in China; these investigations have included: 1) research into the role that anti-colonial humiliation discourses have played in new forms of affectual governance; 2) research into historic place-branding and the use of historical themes and imaginaries in the marketing of Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Wuhan and Xi'an; 3) research into nostalgic consumerism (particularly colonial consumerism; 4) research into a nostalgic social movement in China known as the Hanfu movement (a movement of young people who wear pre-Qing Dynasty clothing); 5) research into the tangible and intangible heritage of the Yangtze River; 6) research into the use of eco and green branding in the Chinese city of Jining (with Qianqian Qin).

Funded Research projects:

Live projects:

In 2014, I was awarded a Sino-British Fellowship Trust and British Academy Award - (BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants SRG 2014 Round) £9,863.75.

In 2012 I was an active participant in a very large EU F7 grant known as PUMAH - Planning, urban management and heritage; this grant saw staff exchanges between European and Chinese institutions.  Overall the project was a complete success and these exchanges have now served as key spaces in the formation of new joint research projects and teaching opportunities.

Presentations for 2019

9th of April, 2019: "Social theory, social science and qualitative methodologies/methods", School of Architecture, Xi'an University of Architectural Technology.

Presentations for 2018

8th of September, 2018: "Contentious values and heritage: the case of the Hanfu movement in contemporary China", in session 9 ‘Creation of heritage values’ at Suzhou University of Science and Technology, (SUST).  The 2nd International Conference on Heritage of China 2018, Suzhou, China.

2nd of September, 2018: "Contentious values and heritage: the case of the Hanfu movement in contemporary China" (for Dr Yiwen Wang’s session Social values, the Pandora’s Box of heritagization in China? in the session theme entitled ‘Heritage and Social Justice’) at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou; 4th International Conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies.

13th of July, 2018: ‘The Faculty Asian Studies Research Group’. Support for the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC).

28th of June, 2018: "How do we plan for the creative economy in urban areas" paper given to Tianjin Planning and Urban Design Professionals, as part of a continuous professional development course, entitled: Planning for the Creative Economy in Urban Areas; 25-29 June 2018; hosted in the Core, Newcastle University and organised by Dr Xuefeng Wang, CURDS.

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 24thto 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

6-8th of April, 2016:  ‘Searching for “deep modernities” and constructing Chinese modern identities: using history and heritage in the indigenisation of global capitalist modernity in Chinese cities’. 1st International Conference on the Heritage of China; entitled: "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.


PhD supervision and postgraduate and undergraduate teaching

My teaching responsibilities can be broken down as follows:

Current PhD/MPhil Supervision

Mohanad Alfelali - The history, sociology and heritage of Mecca (with Dr John Kamara and Dr Josep-Maria Garcia Fuentes) 

Amelia Joicey - The history and sociology of the Northern Stage Theatre - DTC AHRC awards - AHRC Funded - (with Dr Rosalind Haslett).

Asmarani Februandari - Chinese culture and heritage - particularly in relation to China towns - in Indonesia - Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education - (with Prof. Pendlebury).

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

Lu Wang - Facilities for ageing middle class subjects in China (with Professor Rose Gilroy).

Completed PhD's 

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

Dr Xi Chen - Colonial heritage on an island in Wenzhou - PhD by creative practice - (with Prof Chiles and Dr Beattie).

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

APL3004: Chinese Cultural History and Urban Development - Module leader.

TCP3054 - Planning theory - Module Leader - Marxism, post-modernism, critical pragmatism etc.

TCP3099 - Dissertation module - Contributor.

Level 2 modules

APL2001 - Theories of Alternative Practice module - Module leader - Lectures on Marxism, anarchism, feminism, post-modernism, alternative professionalism(s).

APL2007 - Creative practice and visual research skills module - Contributor.  

TCP2028 - Understanding cities - Contributor - Lecture on the Cultural City.

TCP2035 - Study Visit - Within this course I run a fieldtrip to Beijing with Ms. Qianqian Qin; this field trip ran for the first time at the end of March, 2019.

Level 1 modules 

APL1001 - History of Alternative Practice module - Module Leader - Lectures on the history and politics of co-operative planning and architecture.

TCP1025 - Social Worlds - Contributor - Lectures on identity, class, sexuality, gender, race and ethnicity.