Urbanisation is among the most significant contemporary social and environmental transformations occurring on earth. The Urban and Regional Research Program provides a focus for interdisciplinary research and scholarship on cities and regions. The Program aims to advance theoretical and applied knowledge on urban management, liveability and resilience. This is a critical agenda for a world that is both rapidly urbanising and fast depleting the resources required to sustain urban and regional lives.

The Urban and Regional Research Program is situated in Sydney, Australia. As a 'global city' deeply connected to international flows of people, information, capital, goods and energy, Sydney is a vital site for researching many of the generic challenges arising from social, cultural, economic and environmental change in the contemporary world. Our focus also extends to smaller, regional centres undergoing urban transformation, both growth and decline.

Greater Western Sydney comprises half of Sydney's metropolitan area and population. It is not only a significant urban region in its own right, but also is integral to the processes underpinning Sydney's 'global city' status, and is therefore a critical space in which Sydney's  transformations and challenges and challenges are played out. We have a keen and vested interest in understanding urban and regional dynamics in Greater Western Sydney, and remit to provide service to the region and its people.

The Urban and Regional Research Program consolidates the University's academic strengths in Human Geography and in Urban and Regional Planning.

We simultaneously embrace the teaching-research nexus, advance a program of world-class research, and pursue an agenda of strong policy and community engagement.


The Urban and Regional Research Program has concentrated its agenda on a small number of interlaced research themes. These are not mutually exclusive but can be considered separate lenses for examining urban management, liveability and resilience. The themes which underpin our vision are:

1. Housing and Liveability

This theme includes work on housing affordability and provision; tenure, ownership and finance models; the meaning of home and homelessness; and understanding and enhancing urban liveability for individuals and communities.  These are key issues in Greater Western Sydney and this theme is strongly supported by our involvement in the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI).

shanty town roof tops

2. Spatial Economies

This theme involves research on the spatial composition and effects of urban and regional economies.  Activities in the theme examine the political and institutional underpinnings of contemporary capitalism; relationships between demographic and economic change; the causes of spatially uneven development; infrastructure planning and regulation; and sustainable and alternative growth trajectories. Researchers in this theme typically embrace multiple methods including quantitative and qualitative analysis, data visualisation and GIS modelling and representation.

urban setting

3. Diversity and Rights

The scope of this theme is to investigate and critique the social, cultural and economic relations of urban life for individuals and communities.  This includes research on migration and racism; gender and sexuality; religion and belief; youth, ageing and disability; social mix; human/nature relations; the politics of belonging and the value of diversity for flourishing cities. This multi-dimensional work examines individual and community resilience, social cohesion and citizenship, and aims to understand how investment in and regulation of the social and material environment can promote liveability for all.

china town

4. Urban and Regional Planning

This theme explores issues surrounding the processes involved in, and outcomes of, urban and regional planning.  Researchers in this theme delve into the following issues: How might planning processes (including administrative, legal and political processes) increase access to planning decision-making, allowing all to have rights to the city through a process of democratic governance? How should systems of energy, water, food production, governance, transport and care be organised to enhance resilience in complex urban settings? How does planning promote or deter responsible investment in the built environment that ensures liveability for all? How can individuals and communities live together harmoniously in an increasingly culturally and economically differentiated and potentially polarised population? Research in this theme draws on both quantitative and quantitative methodologies.

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Our Research Themes

urban planning and graffiti art

urban planning housing options

urban planning