CURS, University of Birmingham

The Centre for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS), a Department in the School of Public Policy at the University of Birmingham, is a leading international centre for research and teaching in housing, regional and local economic development, urban policy and regional and urban regeneration. Our work combines the worlds of practice, research and education.

The Centre for Urban and Regional Studies was established in 1966 to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to research on urban and regional issues initially in the West Midlands. The Centre has long had a national and international remit particularly related to planning and housing and in recent years its work has reflected the growing policy agendas and academic interest in urban policy, economic development, regeneration and social exclusion.


CURS contributes to this agenda through a focus on socio-spatial aspects of public policy, particularly at urban, regional neighbourhood and community levels, both in the UK and internationally. It has particular expertise in relation to:

CURS has a strong portfolio of academic and commissioned research.Regular research funders include the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Housing Corporation, The Department of Work and Pensions, The Department of Health, the Department for International Development, Advantage West Midlands, Birmingham City Council, the National Housing Federation and the Housing Associations Charitable Trust.

At the European level, CURS has recently participated in major European project like URBEX and RESTATE and is currently leading the EURODITE project which looks at the regional trajectories of Knowledge (


In terms of cultural and creative industries, CURS is currently involved in a baseline and growth study of Birmingham’s creative industries. It has recently completed a study for Birmingham City Council looking at creative knowledge and creative companies in Birmingham. CURS has also participated in the EUROCULT21 project and contributed to the development of Birmingham’s cultural strategy. It  represents the Higher Education sector on the West Midlands Cultural Research and Intelligence Group and has advised the Regional Cultural Consortium on developing frameworks to assess the potential of culture to stimulate regeneration. Other projects include the social impact assessment of community arts projects in peripheral neighbourhoods and the development of best practice case studies of Arts and Regeneration for Arts Council England. It is involved in a major EPSRC project on regeneration of Birmingham’s Eastside, research on Mixed Tenure Communities, comparison of French and UK cluster policies...

Finally, CURS has a vibrant research student community with 27 PhD students currently working in the department.CURS has been recognised by the ESRC for postgraduate research training for 8 years, and has been awarded several ESRC CASE studentships.

Recent PhD topics have included:

  • Comparative studies of cluster policy in the UK, Italy and France
  • Building the Creative Region: Appropriate Mechanisms to Grow the Creative Industries
  • The experience of Afro-Caribbean migrants of home ownership in Birmingham and London
  • The role of inter-organisational partnerships in improving refugee housing options in UK Cities
  • Urban renewal policy in Seoul and Birmingham
  • Social exclusion and capacity building
  • Co-operation or competition? Transnational policy transfers in European urban economic development
  • Private Finance Initiative and social housing
  • Housing and regional governance
  • European regional policy and economic and monetary union
  • European Union and regional development policies