Prof Brian Robson

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Research interests

My research interests focus on urban geography. In Cambridge my books and articles concentrated on the analysis and understanding of the evolution, structure and role of cities. I came to Manchester when the Enhanced Urban Programme started in order to tackle policy-related issues and founded the Centre for Urban Policy Studies (CUPS) at Manchester in 1983.

With researchers in CUPS my policy-related research has concentrated on three broad topics:

  • Evaluating the impacts of urban policy. This has resulted in numerous studies for government departments (Department of the Environment and its successor bodies, currently the Department for Communities and Local Government), for local authorities and for regional agencies.
  • Developing measures of deprivation for small local areas. This resulted in the government’s Index of Local Conditions (a precursor to the current Index of Multiple Deprivation) and to similar work for the Northern Ireland Assembly and for Greater London. In my recent work I have developed an innovative dynamic measure of different types of deprived neighbourhoods, using the detailed census patterns of residential ‘churn’ of households moving into and out of local areas.
  • Analysing regional strategies, both for the European Commission and for the English government. This included exploring the feasibility of developing the North European Trade Axis, developing the case for investment in northern regions, and, in particular, exploring the potential for an administrative geography based on city-regions.

In the last two years I have been able to explore a long-held interest in historic urban cartography and this has resulted in recently published papers on the 19th-century cartographer John Wood and the significant role played by the maps and mathematics of Dawson and Drummond in the Great Reform Act of 1832.




Research and projects