LSE Cities

LSE Cities is an international centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science that carries out research, education and outreach activities in London and abroad. Its mission is to study how people and cities interact in a rapidly urbanising world, focussing on how the design of cities impacts on society, culture and the environment. Through research, conferences, teaching and projects, the centre aims to shape new thinking and practice on how to make cities fairer and more sustainable for the next generation of urban dwellers, who will make up some 70 per cent of the global population by 2050. LSE Cities is one of a small number of research centres that contribute to LSE’s reputation as one of the foremost social science universities in the world. With the support of Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society, the centre builds on the interdisciplinary work of the Urban Age Programme, an international investigation of cities around the world that since 2005 has studied the social and spatial dynamics of metropolitan areas such as Istanbul, São Paulo, Mumbai, Johannesburg, New York City and London.

The Cities Programme, which is the graduate education branch of LSE Cities, offers both Masters and PhD-level degrees within the LSE’s Department of Sociology. Executive teaching programmes, summer schools and short courses that link to LSE Cities’ core research interests will also be offered. In addition, the centre holds an active public lecture programme with leading academics and practitioners, including architects, policymakers, urbanists and mayors.

Extending LSE’s century-old commitment to the understanding of urban society, LSE Cities investigates how complex urban systems are responding to the pressures of growth, change and globalisation, with new infrastructures of design and governance that both complement and threaten social and environmental equity.

Urban Age

The Urban Age Programme, jointly organised with Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society, is an international investigation of the spatial and social dynamics of cities centred on an annual conference, research initiative and publication. Since 2005, over ten conferences have been held in rapidly urbanising regions in Africa and Asia, as well as in mature urban regions in the Americas and Europe. As an event, the Urban Age catalyses the exchange of information, experiences and data across a global network of cities. The conferences operate as mobile laboratories, testing and sampling the social and physical characteristics of global cities through expert presentations and testimonials, research, site visits, mapping and informal information exchange.

Each conference is attended by 300-400 invited urban specialists, policymakers, scholars, designers, practitioners and politicians who present new ideas and developments on environmental equity, social inclusion, the problems of housing and migration, the global economy and the informal sector, as well as on public transport, public space and social capital.

At recent conferences, national leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of Mexico Vicente Fox have joined the mayors of Berlin, Mexico City, New Delhi, Chicago, Washington DC, Bogotá and São Paulo, and internationally renowned academics, architects and activists, to debate a wide range of interdisciplinary issues. Special conference newspapers with critical essays by local experts and international commentators, as well as comparative research on individual cities’ vital statistics, have been regularly published to coincide with each conference. These are available here.


LSE Cities is working and expanding on parallel yet intersecting strands of research that cover the following areas:

Cities, Space and Society

Cities and the Environment

Urban Governance

Much of the current and future research is carried out in partnership with institutions and individuals including:

African Centre for Cities
University of Cape Town
Alan Baxter Associates
The Brookings Institution, Washington DC
Ajuntament de Barcelona
The State of Bavaria and the City of Munich
Buro Happold
Bay Area Council Economic Institute
Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE
Cisco Systems
Deutsche Bank Research
Distrito Federal, Mexico City
European Institute for Energy Research (EIFER)
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, LSE
Greater London Authority
Hong Kong University
Indian Institute of Technology
Netherlands Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning, and the Environment
Olympic Park Legacy Company
Ove Arup Foundation
Rogers, Stirk and Harbour + Partners
La Città di Torino
Seoul Development Institute
The State and City of São Paulo
World Health Summit
World Health Organisation
UN Habitat
United Nations Environment Programme
University of São Paulo


LSE Cities Programme

The Cities Programme is an innovative centre for graduate teaching and research on urban issues. The Programme’s distinctive focus is on the relationship between the physical and social development of cities. It offers degrees at Masters and PhD levels. The MSc City Design and Social Science is based on interdisciplinary teamwork in research-based studios led by urban academics and practitioners. It draws directly from the exceptional range of expertise within and associated with LSE Cities.

The Cities Programme understands design as a mode of research and practice that shapes urban environments, responds to urban problems, and connects social, spatial and material forms in the city. It takes a multi-disciplinary approach to these issues, drawing on expertise and insights from the social sciences, architecture, urban design, urban planning and related fields.

Students on the MPhil/PhD Cities conduct independent research under the supervision of expert supervisors. Doctoral students come from a range of national and disciplinary contexts, enhancing the Programme’s vibrant research and teaching environment.

For more information, please click here.


Urban@LSE is a portal for Masters and Doctoral teaching and for research activities on urban issues across the LSE. It aims to provide a resource for faculty, researchers and graduate students, as
well as an overview of urban teaching and research at LSE for prospective students and other visitors.

LSE has a distinctive concentration of urban specialists in a number of disciplinary areas, and is an unrivalled centre for postgraduate study in the area of city design, urban and regional planning, urbanisation and development, and the economic, social, political and policy aspects of contemporary urban life.

LSE researchers bring together a range of disciplinary expertise to link the urban social sciences with the design and governance of cities, urban infrastructure, environment and development, with a unique concentration of urban specialists in different subject areas – Development Studies, Economics, Geography and Environment, Government, Social Policy, and Sociology.


In addition to the Urban Age, LSE Cities hosts a wide range of international conferences, public lecture series, seminars and awards that span the core of our research goals, and work to consolidate a growing network of urban experts.

Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award

Established in 2007, the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award recognises projects that improve the physical conditions of communities and the lives of their residents, establishing a network of urban initiatives at the grassroots level. The first award was given out in Mumbai (2007), followed by São Paulo (2008), Istanbul (2009), and most recently Mexico City (2010).

Public lecture series at LSE

LSE Cities hosts a series of provocative and insightful public lectures, attracting the world’s leading urban academics, practitioners and politicians to discuss urban best practice, policy, and cutting edge theoretical and methodological debates. Videos and podcasts from LSE Cities public lectures are freely available online.

Experts Seminars

LSE Cities brings together specialist groups of leaders in various urban fields under the banner of Experts Seminars. The seminars encourage interdisciplinary discussion between its expert participants from academic, government, design, industry or NGO backgrounds on innovative projects, ideas and theories relating to urban issues.