Research course

Human Geography

The University of Manchester · School of Environment, Education and Development

Entry requirements

  • First or upper second class honours Bachelor degree (or international equivalent) and
  • A relevant postgraduate qualification, generally a Master degree, with Merit and a minimum average grade of 60% in the taught modules and a minimum grade of 60% in the dissertation (or international equivalent)

Months of entry

January, September, April

Course content

There are two research groups specialising in Human Geography at Manchester: Geographical Political Economy and Urban Transformations. The University of Manchester is one of the best places to study Human Geography in the world. You will be supervised by world leading academics with very strong reputations for research quality. Geography in Manchester was ranked 8th in the world by the 2014 QS world university rankings. In the UK research assessment exercise, 94% of our outputs were considered internationally recognised, with an exceptionally high proportion (65%) judged to be internationally excellent or world leading.

Our Human Geography staff members hold editorial positions with leading research publications, including major journals such as Antipode, Area, Geography Compass, Geoforum, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and Progress in Human Geography.

Recent PhD graduates have been appointed to positions at leading universities in Europe, North America and the Far East, while others now shape national and international policy environments through their work in government agencies, research institutes and activist organisations.

Key research and primary opportunities:

Members of the Geographical Political Economy research group share a common commitment to political economy in analysing spatial and temporal unevenness as well as environmental change. Recognising economic life as geographically constituted, and capitalism as a highly variegated and differentiated system, we focus on how space, place, scale and the biophysical world are integral to economic and social processes. Conceptualising states, corporations, labour and nature as interconnected actors, our research examines the conditions under which new economic geographies are produced, and the social, political and environmental possibilities to which they give rise. Research areas include:

  • Corporate networks
  • Governance
  • Nature and resources
  • Work and employment

The research of the Geographical Political Economy research group has been funded by the British Academy, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust, the National Science Foundation, the RGS-IBG, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Office for the Deputy Prime Minister and the European Union.

The Urban Transformations research group focuses on theorising critically and substantiating empirically the socio-political and cultural processes that produce urbanity and transform cities over time and across different geographical territories. In close synergy with the Geographical Political Economy research group, our research develops innovative ways of understanding and theorising urban political ecology, urban economic and social change, policy mobilities, financialisation and crisis, urban land and infrastructures, and urban technologies. The group's output comprises highly cited monographs and articles in top journals. The agenda developed by the group complements the wider University's strategic initiatives on critical urbanism, e.g. cities@manchester and the Global Urban Research Centre. The group also runs Open Space, an interdisciplinary forum where PhD students share their work, and host annual academic events with tailored PhD workshops as well as guest lectures from some of Geography's leading academics, such as Professors Ed Soja and Neil Smith.

Our current funded research projects include:

  • ENTITLE: The European Network of Political Ecology - an EU funded network including 10 other academic institutions and NGOs across Europe, Chile, Turkey and Palestine. ENTITLE is funded by the Marie Curie action of FP7 and supports 18 researchers in the interdisciplinary field of Political Ecology.
  • CURE: The Centre for Urban Resilience and Energy - funded via a European Research Council Fellowship, CURE further expands our networks of national and international collaboration, and promotes high impact, agenda setting work on the links between the built environment, environmental policy, and climate change.

Our work has also been supported by the British Academy, DFID, ESRC, European Commission, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and the Leverhulme Trust.

Information for international students

Candidates whose first language is not English require one of the following certificates:

  • IELTS test minimum scores - 7 overall, 7 writing, 6 other sections
  • TOEFL (internet based) test minimum scores - 100 overall, 25 writing, 22 other sections
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) minimum scores - 66 overall, 66 writing, 59 other sections
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) overall score of 185 or above, with writing 185 and no other sub-section below 169 -OR- Grade C if taken before 2015
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) overall score of 185 or above, with writing 185 and no other sub-section below 169 -OR- Grade B if taken before 2015

(Please note that the Cambridge First Certificate in English is not acceptable)

Please find full details, including country specific information, here.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Sources of funding include:

UK Research Councils:

Includes 1+3 and +3 studentships. Residency eligibility criteria apply. CASE studentships are normally advertised in January / February on our website and at

In addition, funding is sometimes possible from one of the following:

Internal awards are advertised on our funding page from November.

Qualification and course duration


full time
36 months

Course contact details

School of Environment, Education and Development
+44 (0)161 275 0807