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Rory Coulter

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UCL Department of Geography
North-West Wing
Gower Street

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 0549
Twitter: @roryc_coulter

Autumn 2022-23 Academic Support and Feedback (ASF) hours: Tuesdays 13:15-15:00 (9-10:45 in Week 10, w/b Dec 12th) and Thursdays 11:15-12:30. All slots are available for either face-to-face or online meetings so please choose whichever is best for you. Booking is essential.

Click here to book a face-to-face ASF meeting OR here to book an online ASF meeting on Teams




I graduated from the University of St Andrews with an MA (1st class honours) in geography (2009), before staying at St Andrews to complete a PhD in geography (2013). My thesis used longitudinal data from the British Household Panel Survey to examine whether people who want to move home subsequently go on to do so.

After finishing my doctorate, I was appointed as a Research Associate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. Between 2015 and 2017 I was also a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College. In 2014 I received an ESRC Future Research Leaders award to examine how family background and family life course dynamics influence young adults’ homeownership transitions and housing careers.

I joined UCL as a Lecturer in Quantitative Human Geography in summer 2017.

Full details can be found on Google Scholar and UCL IRIS. Please get in touch if you have difficulty accessing any of my work.


In press/published online ahead of print issue

Mak H, Coulter R and Fancourt D. Does arts and cultural engagement vary geographically? Evidence from the UK Household Longitudinal Study. Public Health.

Wang S and Coulter R. Exploring ethnic and generational differences in gender role attitudes among immigrant populations in Britain. International Migration Review.



Mak H, Coulter R and Fancourt D. Patterns of social inequality in arts and cultural participation: Findings from a nationally representative sample of adults living in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. WHO Public Health Panorama. 6 (1), 55-68.

Coulter R, Bayrakdar S and Berrington A. Longitudinal life course perspectives on housing inequality in young adulthood. Geography Compass. 14 (5), e12488.

Coulter R and Thomas M. 'Residential mobility'. In A. Kobayashi (ed.) The International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (2nd edition). Elsevier, pp. 443-449.



Bayrakdar S, Coulter R, Lersch PM and Vidal S. Family formation, parental background and young adults' first entry into homeownership in Britain and Germany. Housing Studies 34 (6), 974-996.

Coulter R and Clark WAV. Ethnic disparities in neighbourhood selection: Understanding the role of income. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 43 (5), 947 - 962.

Coulter R and Thomas M. A new look at the housing antecedents of separation. Demographic Research 40 (26), 725-760.

Coulter R and van Ham M. 'Housing Career'. In A Orum (ed.) The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Urban and Regional Studies. Wiley Blackwell.



Bayrakdar S and Coulter R. Parents, local house prices and leaving home in Britain. Population, Space and Place 24 (2), 1-13.

Coulter R Parental background and housing outcomes in young adulthood. Housing Studies 33 (2), 201-233.

Dewilde C, Hubers C and Coulter R ‘Determinants of young people’s homeownership transitions before and after the Financial Crisis: The UK in a European context’. In B Searle (ed.) Generational Interdependencies: The Social Implications for Welfare. Vernon Press.



Coulter R Local house prices, parental background and young adults’ homeownership in England and Wales. Urban Studies 54 (14), 3360-3379.

Coulter R and Hu Y. Living Apart Together and cohabitation intentions in Great Britain. Journal of Family Issues 38 (12), 1701-1729.

Coulter R. Social disparities in private renting amongst young families in England and Wales, 2001-2011. Housing, Theory and Society 34 (3), 297-322.

Hu Y and Coulter R. Living space and psychological well-being in urban China: Differentiated relationships across socio-economic gradients. Environment and Planning A 49 (4), 911-929.



Coulter R, van Ham M and Findlay AM. Re-thinking residential mobility: Linking lives through time and space. Progress in Human Geography 40 (3), 352-374.

Review in Journal of Urban Affairs of Tammaru T, Marcińczak S, van Ham M and Musterd S. (eds.) (2016) Socio-Economic Segregation in European Capital Cities: East meets West. Abingdon: Routledge.


2015 and earlier

Clark WAV and Coulter R. Who wants to move? The role of neighbourhood change. Environment and Planning A 47 (12), 2683-2709.

Findlay AM, McCollum D, Coulter R and Gayle V. New mobilities across the lifecourse: A framework for analysing demographically-linked drivers of migration. Population, Space and Place 21 (4), 390-402.

Coulter R and Scott J. What motivates residential mobility? Re-examining self-reported reasons for desiring and making residential moves. Population, Space and Place 21 (4), 354-371.

Clark WAV, van Ham M and Coulter R. Spatial mobility and social outcomes. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment 29 (4), 699-727

van Ham M, Hedman L, Manley D, Coulter R and Östh J. Intergenerational transmission of neighbourhood poverty. An analysis of individual neighbourhood histories. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 39 (3), 402-417.

Coulter R and van Ham M. (2013) Following people through time: An analysis of individual residential mobility biographies. Housing Studies 28 (7), 1037-1055.

Coulter R. (2013) Wishful thinking and the abandonment of moving desires over the life course. Environment and Planning A 45 (8), 1944 – 1962.

Coulter R, van Ham M and Feijten P. (2012) Partner (dis)agreement on moving desires and the subsequent moving behaviour of couples. Population, Space and Place 18 (1), 16-30.

Coulter R, van Ham M and Feijten P. (2011) A longitudinal analysis of moving desires, expectations and actual moving behaviour. Environment and Planning A 43 (11), 2742-2760.

My research sits at the intersection between population and urban geography. The overarching aim of my work is to better understand how, when and why people move through different household structures, dwellings and neighbourhoods over the life course. Most of this research involves analysing rich longitudinal datasets using a range of methods.

At present I am pursuing two main strands of research, although these frequently overlap:

1. Residential mobility and neighbourhood transitions

I have retained a strong interest in residential mobility throughout my career. Much of my work has focused on the causes and consequences of individual and household decisions (not) to move home.

I first began to study residential mobility during my PhD. This examined (1) why people want to move home and (2) what factors impede people from fulfilling their residential mobility desires. My thesis also explored what happens when partners disagree about moving and used novel methods to categorise and analyse long-term mobility biographies.

Together with collaborators in Europe and the US, I have since built on this work by using longitudinal datasets to explore the neighbourhood transitions people make over the life course. This research has highlighted how residential mobility has important implications for social and spatial inequalities, as well as the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage from parents to children. I have pulled together much of my research and thinking on residential mobility in a recent article in Progress in Human Geography.

I am currently working on a project with Joanna Kuleszo and Paul Longley that seeks to harness longitudinal surveys and consumer register data to model housing careers in the UK. This work is funded by an ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative award.

2. Housing and family dynamics

The second strand of my research, funded in part by an ESRC Future Research Leaders award (see archived project website for full details), examines how family background and family life course events shape the housing careers of young people. More specifically, this strand of work has compared intergenerational continuities in young people’s housing attainments across birth cohorts. My work has also highlighted the ways in which the intergenerational transmission of homeownership and home leaving behaviour are both shaped by local house prices.

3. Other research

I have also published several co-authored papers on topics relating to my core research interests, including the first nationally representative decomposition of Living Apart Together relationships in Britain, a study showing that housing cost burdens elevate the risk of partnership breakdown, as well as a study assessing the links between housing stress and psychological well-being in urban China.

4. Professional service

I founded and currently convene (with Michael Thomas, University of Groningen and Tomáš Samec, Czech Academy of Social Sciences) the Housing, Migration and Family Dynamics Working Group within the European Network for Housing Research. I serve on the Management Board of Housing Studies and on the United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study (Understanding Society) Scientific Group as Topic Champion for Housing. I have acted as a grant reviewer for the European Research Council; funding bodies and national research councils in Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Poland; and for more than twenty academic journals and book publishers (see Publons profile for details).

A series of Briefing Papers summarising work from my ESRC Future Research Leaders project are available on my project website. These have been disseminated beyond academia through my project User Forum, which contains representatives from the civil service and third sector housing organisations. Evidence from this project was cited in the 2019 report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision. Over the last few years I have also had a number of one-on-one meetings to discuss research issues with a range of Policy Fellows affiliated to the Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy (including several political special advisers, senior civil servants and housing experts from the non-profit and business communities).

As part of my ESRC project, I co-organised an International Policy Workshop on Housing and Family Transitions in the Life Course at the University of St Andrews (May 18-19th 2017). This brought together academics and delegates from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, National Records of Scotland, British Society for Population Studies and UNECE to discuss research findings on housing and family dynamics. In September 2017 I organised a policy workshop in London focused on young people. Full details of these events are available on my archived project website.

In March 2017 I was invited to speak to schoolteachers about my work on Living Apart Together Relationships at the OCR Sociology Subject Forum in Cambridge. At UCL I have continued this work by participating in Fawcett scheme seminars with London teachers. In November 2019 I participated in an ESRC Festival of Social Science event at City and Islington College engaging young people with housing issues.

I have blogged about my research on intergenerational continuities in young adults’ homeownership for Urban Studies and the Census and Administrative Data Longitudinal Studies Hub (CALLS-HUB). My colleague, Yang Hu, has also written short pieces summarising our work for Openpop and Quantitative Social Science (in Chinese). In 2014 my work on residential mobility featured in Cambridge Research Horizons and my work has also been covered in ESRC Society Now magazine.

  • GEOG0013: Geography in the Field 1 (co-convenor)
  • GEOG0018: Methods in Human Geography (co-convenor)
  • GEOG0028: Urban Geography (contributor, one lecture and field class)
  • GEOG0149: Urban Policy (convenor)
  • GEOG0155: Social Science Research Methods and Methodologies: Quantitative Methods (convenor)
  • Undergraduate and MSc dissertation supervision; supervision of undergraduate Independent Study projects

Currently supervising:

I welcome enquiries from prospective students who are interested in working on topics that relate to my research interests. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Housing, neighbourhoods and urban geography
  • Migration and residential mobility
  • Family life course dynamics
  • Longitudinal analysis