Department of Geography


Photo of Professor Donald Houston

Professor Donald Houston

  • Qualifications: BA (Hons) Geography (1993); MSc Transportation Planning Policy (1995); PhD Economic Geography (2002)
  • Role Title: Head of Department
  • Address: Buckingham Building, Lion Terrace Portsmouth, PO1 3HE
  • Telephone: 0239284 2501
  • Email:
  • Department: Geography
  • Faculty: Science


My research mostly relates to social inequalities within and between urban and regional labour markets. I work across disciplines, including economics, social policy, public health and town planning. The UK is a good place to study economic geography because it is one of the most geographically unequal economies in the developed world. I am continually shocked by government policies, particularly welfare reforms, that are blind to geography. Not only are such policies usually detrimental to the most marginalised people and places, they often misdiagnose the causes of employment problems in weak local labour markets. 

I was appointed Professor of Economic Geography and Head of Department at Portsmouth in 2016. Before that, I held a Senior Research Fellowship awarded by the Urban Studies Foundation at the University of Glasgow (2014-16). Previously, I held lecturing positions in Human Geography at the University of St Andrews (2010-14) and the University of Dundee (2002-10). I have held visiting positions at the University of Illinois and the University of Vaxjo, Sweden. I was Director of the Scottish Cities Knowledge Centre, a multi-disciplinary and cross-institution knowledge exchange initiative focussed on urban economic development (2013-16). My doctorate and post-doctoral research were conducted in Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow (1996-2002). My Master's degree is in Transportation Planning Policy from the University of Newcastle, awarded in 1995. I graduated with a degree in Geography from the University of Aberdeen in 1993.

Teaching Responsibilities

I have taught Urban Geography, Economic Geography, Quantitative Methods and Geographical Information Systems.


Areas of research:

  • Poverty, inequality and social justice
  •  Welfare reform and employability
  •  Labour market change
  •  Urban and regional restructuring
  •  Immobility, segregation and migration
  •  Housing affordability
  •  Transport exclusion
  •  Urban planning and flooding

Current research projects:

  • Inclusive Prosperity in and beyond Scotland’s Cities, in collaboration with University of Glasgow and the Scottish Cities Alliance.

Research profile

Explore my research profile, publications and activities on the Portsmouth Research Portal

View profile