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Department of Geography


Durham Geography is a large department with an active research culture, whose ethos is designed to allow researchers at all stages of their careers - from undergraduates to academic staff - to deliver research excellence in both human and physical geography. Research activity is organised into seven clusters that act as 'ideas factories', and as centres of gravity for existing areas of research expertise for which we are internationally recognised. Researchers in geography also contribute significantly to Durham University interdisciplinary research institutes and direct cross-department research centres (see Research Centres & Units links right).

Our Human Geography research cluster objectives are underpinned by an approach that combines both conceptual development and attentiveness to empirical specificity. Our work is organised into four clusters. Political, States and Space advances understanding of emerging spatial forms of politics including emerging governance, border security and migration flows. Culture, Economy and Life advances research on everyday life, the liveliness of bodies and material things, and seeks to understand both past and future lives. Urban Worlds develops new understanding of the ways in which urban life is governed and made possible. Geographies of Health and Well-being seeks to understand the determinants of health inequalities. In each of these areas our research traces new and emergent processes in a time of rapid change, at scales from the body to the global, in richer and poorer parts of the world. We are committed to using our size and diversity to experiment with new forms of geographical thought to both bring new ideas into conversation with each other and to extend geographical thinking into new domains.

Research in our Physical Geography clusters spans a wide range of environments on the Earth, including glaciers and ice sheets, mountain belts, and the oceans. Despite this diversity, the nature of our research often links activities between different clusters, and our work shares some common overarching themes. In much of our research, we study the Earth’s surface via the processes - physical, chemical, and biological - which have shaped it. This process-based understanding, in turn, can be used to inform decision making about both the history and the future trajectory of natural systems. While our size as a department and our diversity of expertise allow us to work over a wide range of time scales, from seconds to millions of years, we focus much of our activity on decadal to millennial time scales. These time scales represent an optimal balance between periods that are long enough to be preserved in the landscape and in the geological record, and those that are short enough to be relevant to human societies.