LSE Cities

LSE Cities is an international centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science that carries out research, conferenceseducation 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.

LSE Cities

Through research, conferences, teaching and projects, the LSE Cities 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 Delhi, Rio de Janeiro, London, Hong Kong, Istanbul, São Paulo, Mumbai, Johannesburg, and New York City.

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 regular conferences, research initiative and publication. Since 2005, over 13 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 the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of Mexico Vicente Fox have joined the mayors of London, 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.


LSE Cities’s research is divided into three major research units. These are focused on improving the theoretical and interdisciplinary knowledge base on urban development and advancing research in key knowledge areas by engaging with education in city governance, management, planning and design.

Cities, Space and Society

The shape of cities impacts on culture, health and well-being, and our ability to prosper economically. Insight into the impact of space provides opportunity to design more inclusive, resilient and sustainable built environments.

Cities and the Environment

This unit better understands how the design of cities, in particular transport mobility, urban form, resource efficiency and technology, can position cities as a solution to environmentally sustainable living.

Urban Governance

This unit investigates the links between architecture and democracy, how the relationship between metropolitan and other levels of government impacts on city design, and the impact of mega-projects on urban change.

Much of our research is carried out in partnership with institutions and individuals including:

  • African Centre for Cities
  • The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • Alan Baxter Associates
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • 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 Commission
  • 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
  • LSE Kuwait Programme
  • MacArthur Foundation
  • 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 Cape Town
  • University of São Paulo


Graduate Education

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.

LSE 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.

Executive Education

LSE Cities offers an intensive week long summer course on cities for mid and late career professionals in the public and private sectors. We also provide tailored executive programmes for organisations such as municipalities and private firms. From 2016, LSE Cities will also be launching an Executive Masters in Cities.


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), Mexico City (2010), Cape Town (2012), Rio de Janeiro (2013) and Delhi (2014).

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.

Workshops and Seminars

LSE Cities organises a wide range of research seminars and workshops, which explore the ideas and theories of the urban issues covered by the centre’s research units. These events encourage interdisciplinary discussion and debate between invited speakers and participants from academic, government, policy, design, industry and NGO backgrounds.

Comments are closed.