MA Urban Studies Staff


Introduction to Urban Political Economy

Module Leader: Professor Jonathan Davies

Jonathan S. Davies is founding Director of the Centre for Urban Research on Austerity and Professor of Critical Policy Studies. He worked at the University of Warwick from 2001-2011, previously completing his DPhil at the University of York. His first monograph Partnerships and regimes: the politics of urban regeneration in the UK was published by Ashgate in 2001. His second, Challenging Governance Theory: from Networks to Hegemony was published by The Policy Press in September 2011. Jonathan publishes in leading journals including the Journal of Urban Affairs, the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Environment and Planning A, Urban Studies, Political Studies, Policy & Politics and Public Administration. His research interests span critical issues in governance, urban studies and public policy. In addition to developments in governance theory, Jonathan is also working on a number of projects on crisis and austerity governance. Between 2015 and 2018 he held a major ESRC grant, leading an international consortium of researchers in a comparative study of austerity governance.

Governing and Managing Cities

Module Leader: Dr Valeria Guarneros-Meza

Understanding changes in local governance have driven my research career to date. My interests have focused on the impact that structural economic changes and institutional socio-political reforms have on local governance. Democratic principles such as citizen participation, inclusion and accountability have also drawn my attention and, in particular, how these concepts and meanings affect the organisational structures of local government as well as the practices and behaviour of local government bureaucrats. I have been able to study these topics within the English and Welsh contexts and in Mexico and Latin America.

My research on England and Wales has analysed the capacity that local government has in promoting and maintaining a system of citizen participation in the delivery of services and the power relations that local government has experienced with higher tiers of government in order to deliver services. My research on Mexico has analysed how urban governance has responded to structural changes experienced by the state in response to neoliberal economic policies and democratisation. These changes have shown how new organisational arrangements of service delivery have been created, whilst maintaining legacies of the former authoritarian regime. Increasing levels of insecurity in Latin America, have more recently driven my research interests to focus on how democratic values and principles interweave with social contexts of crime and violence in the daily activities of residents and frontline officers in the delivery of public services.

Participatory Research in Action 

Module Leader: Dr Mercè Cortina-Oriol

Drawing from social movements, community development and citizen participation and moving towards political economy and urban politics, my research historically traces and contemporarily critiques the governance systems at the local sphere.

Urban Challenges 

Module Leader: Dr Rachel Granger

Rachel joined Leicester Castle Business School in 2016. Specialising in urban economies, her main interests are in the economic geography of creative cities and in urban economic development and regeneration. Rachel is especially interested in the role of networks in developing knowledge transfer and innovation in cities, new business models and spaces for promoting creative and digital industries, and the role of cities as a catalyst for creative, knowledge, and smart industrial growth.

Rachel has worked previously with Creative Scotland, the Western Ireland Development Commission, Province of British Columbia, individual theatre companies, regional development agencies, and several London boroughs to examine value impacts of creative and digital sectors, creative workers, and value chains. Rachel’s work on developing new techniques in ‘spatial-relational mapping’ of creative industries has led to new economic approaches and software development, using data sourcing (, whilst her current work on ‘valorising hidden culture’ and ‘smart economic development’ is leading to new practice models in local authorities on cultural and smart strategies.

Urban Infrastructure and Sustainable Cities

Module Leader: Professor Steven Griggs

My research evaluates the contribution of political discourse theory to our understanding of the policy process, analysing, in particular, how shared meanings or institutional rules and norms emerge to ‘make sense’, privilege or constrain different democratic spaces within the policy process.  Empirically, I have investigated these theoretical questions through research into two main areas of study.  Firstly, I have investigated the politics of sustainable aviation and the expansion of airports in the United Kingdom. Secondly, I have analysed the dynamics of participation in neighbourhood governance and the democratic limits of the emerging discourse of community cohesion and sustainable communities.  My current research critically engages with the governance of local public services under conditions of austerity and how local politicians, officers and community activists might best mediate complex economic and social demands and manage conflicts across local communities and neighbourhoods.

Difference, Inequality and Conflict in the City

Module Leader: Dr Ben Whitham

Ben Whitham is Senior Lecturer in International Politics in the Department of Politics, People, and Place at De Montfort University, Leicester. He holds a PhD in International Politics (University of Reading), an MA in International Relations and Globalisation (London Metropolitan University), and a BA (Hons) in Politics (University of East London). 

Ben’s core research interests are in global (in)security, inequalities, and intersectionality, and in the cultural politics of crisis. His approach to the study of these topics is rooted in disciplines of international political sociology, and global social theory. His PhD explored the discursive construction of post-Cold War British security policies and practices and contextualised them within the wider framing of a ‘neoliberal way of war’. In addition to working on research outputs from his doctoral research, in recent years Ben led a research project (2017-2019), funded by DMU’s Centre for Urban Research on Austerity (CURA), exploring the intersectional politics of austerity and Islamophobia in east London. In 2019 he co-organised the CURA and Stephen Lawrence Research Centre-funded conference Intersectionality and the City. From 2020 Ben is co-lead, with Dr Amina Easat-Daas, of CURA’s ‘Racialised Inequalities’ research theme. In 2020-21 Ben was appointed to DMU’s ‘Future Research Leaders’ scheme (FRL7). 

Comparative Territorial Governance

Module Leader: Dr Arianna Giovannini

I am an Associate Professor/Reader in Local Politics & Public Policy at the Department of Politics, People and Place, where I am the Deputy Director of the Local Governance Research Centre (LGRC) and a member of the Centre for Urban Research and Austerity (CURA). Between July 2019 and February 2020 I was Director of IPPR North, the leading think-tank for the North of England, on a secondment basis.

Before joining DMU in August 2016, I was a Researcher at the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI), University of Sheffield. I previously worked at the University of Leeds (POLIS) as a research assistant for the White Rose Consortium for the North of England project. I also held academic positions at the University of Huddersfield, and at Leeds Metropolitan University, where I was awarded a PhD in 2014. Before moving to the UK, I worked as a researcher for regional governments and for several academic institutions in Italy.

My research focuses on territorial and local politics, governance rescaling, devolution and democracy – both in the UK and in comparative European perspective. Most recently, my work in these areas has concentrated on devolution deals in England, and in particular in the North; the politics, governance and political economy of the Northern Powerhouse; the changing landscape of local government, especially in the context of austerity and Brexit; the new municipalism; and asymmetric regionalism. I have written extensively on these topics, publishing in academic journals such as Territory, Politics, Governance, Policy & Politics, Regional and Federal Studies, The Political Quarterly and Political Studies. My latest book ‘Developing England’s North. The Political Economy of the Northern Powerhouse’ (co-edited with Craig Berry) was published by Palgrave in 2018.

Alternative Urban Futures

Module Leader: Dr Adam Fishwick

Adam Fishwick is an Associate Professor/Reader in International Political Economy and Development Studies at the Department of Politics, People and Place at De Montfort University, Leicester. He currently holds two research leadership roles as Associate Head of Department (Research and Enterprise) in the Department of Politics, People and Place and Faculty Head of Research Students for the Faculty of Business and Law, where he is responsible for postgraduate research. Adam is an active, interdisciplinary researcher and a member of the Centre for Urban Research on Austerity and the People, Organisations and Work Institute in the Faculty of Business and Law. He is also co-founder of the Global Inequalities Research Group, which includes researchers from across politics, international relations, and law. 

His research interests include: the political economy of work and development, labour and social movements in Latin America, and alternatives to capitalism. He has published widely on these topics and, for 2020/21, was awarded a Leverhulme Trust International Academic Fellowship for his research on labour activism and austerity in Argentina and Chile. Adam has conducted extensive research on and in these countries, working in collaboration with researchers from the region in ongoing research projects on trade unions and grassroots collective self-organising.

Metropolis and Economic and Socio-political Innovation (Module offered in Barcelona)

Module Leader: Dr Ismael Blanco

Dr Ismael Blanco is a Visiting Fellow, Autonomous University of Barcelona


Module leader: Ros Lishman

Ros is an Associate Professor and specialises in facilitating co-constructed experiential and service learning across a range of levels and programmes in the Department of Politics, People and Place.  Ros has been at DMU for over 20 years in a variety of roles including research fellow, lecturer and academic development partner.  She has academic leadership experience through module, programme and line management responsibilities.  Across the University Ros has contributed to teaching excellence through developing and sharing her teaching practice and has been a recognised DMU Teacher Fellowsince 2012. 

For many years Ros only taught part-time professional students but now focuses on leading four modules for full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on politics/IR and project management programmes.  Her pedagogic practice is underpinned by the community of inquiry framework (CoI) and application of the universal design for learning framework (UDL)