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Dr Frances Brill

Dr Frances Brill

Margaret Tyler Research Fellow in Geography at Girton College



  • College Lecturer, Girton College, University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK)
  • Research Fellow for 'What is Governed in Cities', Bartlett School of Planning, UCL (London, UK)
  • Guest lecturer and seminar leader, Department of Geography and the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL (London, UK)
  • Research Assistant, Value + Africa, DPU, UCL (London, UK)
  • Researcher, Volunteering Team Housing (London, UK)


  • PhD Geography, UCL (London, UK)
  • MSc Sociology, LSE (London, UK)
  • MA Land Economy, University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK)


I am an urban-economic geographer. I am committed to thinking from anywhere and through any city (inspired by Robinson's work on the ordinary city). My research can be broadly categorised into three themes:

(1) Sustainability and the interaction of the climate and housing crises: how both real estate professionals and occupiers understand their home as a space through which the climate and housing crises are experienced. What is the role of crisis narratives in shaping decision-making processes for those involved in developing and managing property? How does the climate and housing crises combination shape experiences of 'stress'.

(2) The Building Safety Crisis: the role of private regulations, regulatory failure and community (cohesion) in shaping the lived experiences of those living through the Building Safety Crisis (Cladding Scandal).

(3) Build to Rent: the production of, investment in and experience of living in institutional investment funded housing globally.

During my PhD I analysed the role of developers in two large scale development projects, The Royal Docks in London and Modderfontein in Johannesburg. Since my PhD I have worked at the Bartlett School of Planning (UCL, London) on 'What is Governed in Cities', analysing the governance of residential real estate investment in London. My research to-date has been published in a range of Geography journals including Environment and Planning A; Environment and Planning C; Urban Geography; and Geoforum. I am currently writing a book on London with Prof Mike Raco, to be published by Abacus Press as part of their Global Cities series.


  • Brill, F & Durrant, D (2020) The emergence of a Build to Rent model: the role of narratives and discourses Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space. doi:0.1177/0308518X20969417
  • Raco M, & Brill, F (2020) Relational Regulation and Chinese Real Estate Investment in London: Moving Beyond the Territorial Trap. Territory, Politics, Governance
  • Brill F & Conte V. (2020) Understanding project mobility: The movement of King's Cross to Brussels and Johannesburg. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. 2020;38(1):79-96. doi:10.1177/2399654419854458
  • Brill F, & Robin, E (2020) The risky business of real estate developers: network building and risk mitigation in London and Johannesburg, Urban Geography, 41:1, 36-54, DOI: 10.1080/02723638.2019.1637211
  • Brill F. (2019) Complexity and coordination in London's Silvertown Quays: How real estate developers (re)centred themselves in the planning process. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space. 2020;52(2):362-382. doi:10.1177/0308518X19860159
  • Reboredo, R & Brill, F (2019) « Between Global and Local: Urban Inter-referencing and the Transformation of a Sino-South African Megaproject », China Perspectives, 2019-4 | 2019, 9-16.
  • Brill, F. (2018) 'Playing the Game: A comparison of international actors in real estate development in Modderfontein, Johannesburg and London's Royal Docks.' Geoforum doi:10.1016/j.geoforum. 2018.05.015
  • Brill, F. & Reboredo, R. (2018) 'Failed Fantasies in a South African Context: The Case of Modderfontein, Johannesburg' Urban Forum
  • Robin, E., & Brill, F., (2018) 'The global politics of an urban age: creating "cities for all" in the age of financialisation', Palgrave Communications
  • Brill, F. (2017) 'Learning from the Institute of Making' in 'Connecting Research and Teaching: Students as Partners in Shaping Higher Education', ed. Vincent Tong, Alex Standen and Mina Sotiriou. London: UCL Press


  • Part IA: Introduction to Human Geography, key themes and ways of thinking (created and run with Sarah Hughes-McLure.
  • Part IA: Economic Geography, Urban Geography

I have published on teaching methods, especially from a PGTA perspective as part of UCL's Connected Curriculum and R=T agendas and I am an Associate Fellow of the HEA. At UCL, I taught seminars to undergraduates in political geography, geopolitics, urban geography and an introduction to London. I later lectured on the economic geography 2nd year paper and for the MSc 'Urban Problems' course. I have also led reading groups on gender and sexuality at the Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies and walking tour-based lectures in South-East London. I have – and continue to – supervise MSc dissertations at UCL (Bartlett School of Planning)

External activities

  • ECR representative, Regional Studies Association Board
  • Dissertation Prize Co-ordinator, Urban Geography Research Group, The Royal Geographical Society
  • Advisory Board, What is Governed in Cities
  • Volunteer, the Kite Trust, Cambridge