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Dr Robert Cowley joined the Department of Geography in 2015. His research interests relate to visions of the urban future, and the processes through which these are implemented in particular places.

He worked as Project Coordinator on a three-year research project 'Smart Eco-Cities: A Comparative Study of Europe and China'. Previously, he was Network Coordinator for the Leverhulme Trust-funded international research consortium 'Tomorrow’s City Today – an International Comparison of Eco-City Frameworks'.

More recently, he has led research exploring governance questions around future settlements on Mars, and is currently working with Westminster City Council to facilitate ongoing collaboration with King’s on local urban sustainability initiatives (as part of a five-country project led by the State University of Portland).

His PhD thesis, completed at the University of Westminster, explored the governance of ‘eco-city’ initiatives around the world. Before that, he took an MA in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Westminster (2010). His first degree was in Modern Languages and Literature (Russian and Modern Greek) at the University of Oxford.


  • ‘Smart’ and ‘eco’ urban initiatives
  • Governance of urban sustainability
  • Publics and public space
  • Sustainability transitions
  • Urban experiments

Robert’s research focuses on the proliferation of diverse ‘eco’ and ‘smart’ urban initiatives and policies around the world. In particular, he is interested in the way that these ideas travel and are translated into varying practices in different settings, the conceptual and practical tensions between the ‘eco’ and the ‘smart’, and the significance of these experimental approaches to urban development for traditional modes of planning.



  • 4SSG1008 Geography Tutorials: Critical Thinking and Techniques 
  • 4SSG1016 Geography in Action 
  • 5SSG2058 Urban Geography: Exploring the City 
  • 5SSG2065 Cities and Citizenship 


  • 7SSG5002 Practising Social Research 
  • 7SSG5179 Understanding the Sustainable City 
  • 7SSG5180 Governing the Sustainable City 

Further details

See Robert's research profile