In 1833 UCL became the first university in the UK to appoint a Professor of Geography, and the Department is now one of the largest and most distinguished in the country. We have been ranked in the highest category for research excellence in all six UK national research assessments so far. In the latest, published in December 2008, UCL was one of the top three UK geography departments in the numbers of its staff undertaking ‘World leading’ and ‘Internationally excellent’ research. The Department has also been graded ‘excellent’ in the national university Teaching Quality Assessment. It attracts graduate students and other researchers from Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa and South East Asia, as well as the UK.
Research in the Department is strongly supported by funding from UK Research Councils (especially AHRC, ESRC and NERC), the European Union, the Royal Society, British Academy, Leverhulme Trust, Wellcome Trust, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Graham Foundation, Government Departments and overseas sources, such as the World Bank, WWF and UN agencies. Beyond funding specific projects, these research resources provide wider benefits for graduate students, including a larger and more experienced staff, expertise in quantitative and qualitative datasets, extensive research contacts, contributions to the intellectual and physical infrastructure of research, and cross-disciplinary interactions.
The Department is located in two buildings. The Bedford Way building was designed for the University of London by the world-renowned architect Sir Denys Lasdun. As part of a significant national investment programme in research infrastructure, most of the staff are now accommodated in the newly re-furbished Pearson Building, overlooking UCL’s historic quadrangle on Gower Street. One of the Department’s key strategic objectives is to combine all its activities onto the main UCL site in the near future.
Fifteen new staff have been appointed in recent years, joining existing research groups and carving out new areas of research. They are part of a large and dynamic community of academic and research staff, research associates, graduate students, short and long-term visitors, undergraduates, and administrative and technical staff. There are well over 100 active researchers in the Department, including doctoral students, with around 120 Master’s students and approximately 400 undergraduates studying geography for their first degree, making it a vibrant place to work.
Departmental research is organised around six research clusters: