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Personal profile

Personal profile

David Gilbert's research interests focus on the geography and history of modern London, and modern urbanism more generally.  Key themes in this work include:

  • London's role as a world city of fashion and its distinctive fashion cultures and economy
  • The development of suburbia and its cultural geographies
  • Religion in London and the creativity of its faith communities
  • London's role in the geographies of imperialism
  • The histories of planning and imagining London

David gives the opening course in Human Geography in the Department each autumn, and also teaches on the history of modern London, and at MA level on urbanism and urban culture.  He has a long record of PhD supervision including UKRI Collaborative Doctoral Awards with major institutions. He supervises a strong current group of PhD students, and welcomes applications for new research projects. He has a close working relationship with the Museum of London, including 25 years of collaborative PhD projects, and serves on its Academic Panel. 

His most recent major research project focused on creativity in suburban faith communities in London, funded by the AHRC, working with geographers at UCL.  

David has also published more generally on the historical geographies of modern Britain, including work on protest, the history of British coalmining, community identity, and unemployment. His other research interests include amateur creativity and the geographies of counterfactual thinking.  

David was Head of the Department of Geography from 2011-14. From 2017 to 2021 he was Vice Principal for Quality and Standards helping to lead the University through the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic, particularly its approach to teaching and assessment, and our relationship with external regulatory and quality bodies. He was an academic member of the College Council (the governing body) from 2012 to 2017. In 2022 and 2023, he lead the University's submission to the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).  

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

D.Phil, Class, community and collective action. The social development of mining villages in South Wales and Nottinghamshire 1850-1926., University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK.

1 Oct 19831 Mar 1989

Award Date: 1 Mar 1989

Social and Political Sciences, BSc, University of Cambridge

1 Oct 197930 Jun 1982

Award Date: 30 Jun 1982


  • London
  • Modernity
  • historical geography
  • urban studies
  • fashion
  • tourism
  • suburbs
  • religion

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or