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Oleg Golubchikov

Professor Oleg Golubchikov

Professor of Human Geography, Director of Postgraduate Research

School of Geography and Planning

+44 29208 79310
Glamorgan Building, Room Room 1.54, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3WA
Available for postgraduate supervision


Oleg Golubchikov is Professor of Human Geography, with interests in urban and sustainability transitions. His research and publications focus on the governance of urban and regional economic development, the policy and practice of sustainable urbanism, as well as on spatial critique of energy and digital transitions. He has long-standing research interests in the relationships between spatial, social and political transformations under market transitions. He also studies the governance of innovation with regard to smart cities, climate-neutral cities, and sustainable built environments. His research informs international policies. He advises the United Nations and other international organisations on aspects of sustainable cities and sustainable housing.

Professor Golubchikov is Director of Postgraduate Research at the School of Geography and Planning.






















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Recently Funded Projects

  • SMARTUP: Smart(ening up the modern) home: Redesigning power dynamics through domestic space digitalization (€1.5M, ESRC/CHANSE - Collaboration of Humanities and Social Sciences in Europe), 2022-2025
  • Strengthening policy capacities for sustainable housing and urban development in countries with economies in transition (ESRC IAA), 2020-2022
  • Country profile on urban development, housing and land management of Albania (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe), 2022-2023
  • Geographies of governance for sustainable and inclusive sociotechnical transformations (ESRC-NSTC Networking Grant), 2023-2024

Research Interests

My research interests lie with the governance of urban and regional development, the policy and practice of sustainable urbanism, as well as spatial critique of energy and digital transitions. My research particularly advances the understanding of the intersection of urbanisation and transitions – or major systemic shifts in society, with a particular attention to the uneven outcomes of these transitions for space and society. These interests have recently developed as three strands of research activity informing my theoretical, empirical and practical perspectives: (a) urban and spatial restructuring under market transitions, (b) sustainable urbanism in low-carbon and digital transitions, and (c) sustainable urban and housing development in policy and practice.

The governance of urban and spatial restructuring. For the first research strand, I explore how political and economic imaginaries shape urban trajectories and with what broader implications for social and spatial change. I investigate the relationships between the state, economic structures, and innovations in the production of uneven spatialities at different scales. I explore these processes particularly in the context of market transition, which is associated with rapid social, economic and political restructuring. Here, my research seeks to understand the evolution of institutions of housing policy, urban planning and urban governance; the role that cities play in the establishment of the new political economy and the formation of new socio-spatial differences and inequalities; factors underpinning geographical disparity and uneven capacities and resilience of cities in adapting to the new economy. Overall, this strand of research advances the understanding of the evolution, variegated forms, hybridity, and contradictions of capitalism in its long-ranging influences on the production of space.

Sustainable urbanism in low-carbon and digital transitions. The second strand of my research encompasses interdisciplinary perspectives on sustainable urbanism, energy policy and sustainability more broadly. This research is particularly placed in the context of energy and digital transitions, which have become key constituents in sustainability policies. I explore the relationships between governance, technology and equity with regard to climate-neutral and energy-efficient cities, smart cities and smart homes, and their social, economic and spatial implications. This research offers critiques of sustainable urbanism and energy transitions and stresses the importance of addressing geographical contexts and place-based vulnerabilities in devising policies for transitioning more justly.

Sustainable urban and housing development in policy and practice. The third strand of my academic activity extends my academic research into the world of policy and engagement. I participate in high-level dialogues for the development of international and national policies and legislation in sustainable urban development. Part of my research was commissioned by, and conducted directly in collaboration with, the United Nations. This has resulted a range of major publications that substantiate the work of the UN and inform governments and other stakeholders across the world. My research helps identify key pressure points, dilemmas and priorities for sustainable urbanisation by providing a knowledge base for understanding key vectors of change and the challenges that cities face. I advocate for more socially and spatially inclusive forms of urban development and governance and reconciling the demands of capital and citizens in the provision of urban services and housing. Examples of my policy writing for the United Nations include:


Current teaching

  • Urban and Regional Development in Practice, MSc (module leader)
  • Planning City Futures, MSc (contributor)

Previous teaching and leadership roles

  • Director of Urban and Regional Development MSc Programme
  • Director of MSc in European Spatial Planning and Environmental Policy (Planet Europe) programme
  • Post-Carbon Worlds: Energy Geographies, Year 2 (module leader)
  • Human Geography in Practice, Year 3 (contributor)
  • Professional Development, MSc (module leader)
  • Space and Place: International Planning Practice, MSc (contributor)
  • The Big Questions in Human Geography, Year 1 (contributor)
  • Planning, Markets and Land, Year 2 (module leader)
  • Economic Change and Spatial Policy, Year 3 (module leader)
  • Environmental Management, MSc (contributor)
  • Economic Principles for Urban and Regional Studies, Year 1 (contributor)
  • Spaces of Production: Economic Geography, Year 2 (contributor)


Academic Career

  • Senior Lecturer/Reader/Professor, School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University (2013 - )
  • Lecturer in Urban Resilience, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham (2010-2013)
  • ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford (2009-2010)
  • Research Assistant, Bartlett School of Planning, University College London (2008-2009)


  • DPhil in Human Geography, University of Oxford (2007)
  • MSc in Land Management, KTH Royal Institute of Technology (2001)
  • Master of Geography, Moscow State University (2000)

Consulting Experience

Professor Golubchikov has many years of consulting experience, advising the United Nations and other international organisations and corporations on aspects of urban and regional development, sustainable cities and housing, and energy policies. He has been Consultant to the Secretariat of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), one of the five UN regional commissions. He has also consulted UN-HABITAT on sustainable housing and sustainable cities.

Advisory and Expert Boards

  • Member of the ESRC Peer Review College, since 2010
  • Consultant to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), since 2008
  • Consultant to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), since 2011
  • Member of Expert Panel on the preparation of HABITAT III United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Policy Unit 5: Municipal Finance and Local Fiscal System, 2015-2016

Reviewer for Research Councils

  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
  • Fund for Scientific Research – F.R.S.-FNRS – Belgium
  • British Academy
  • Hong Kong Research Grant Council (RGC)
  • JPI Climate
  • Estonian Research Council (ETAg)
  • US National Science Foundation (NSF)

Journal Reviewer (selected)

Area Development and Policy; Canadian Journal of Development Studies; East European Politics; Economic Policy in Emerging Economies; Energy and Buildings; Energy Policy; Energy Procedia; Environment and Planning A; Environment and Planning B; Environment and Planning C; Eurasian Geography and Economics; Europa Regional; European Planning Studies; European Urban and Regional Studies; Europe-Asia Studies; Geoforum; Geografie; Geografiska Annaler B; Geopolitics; International Journal of Economic Policy in Emerging Economies; International Journal of Urban and Regional Research; International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development; International Planning Studies; Journal of Social Policy Studies; Moravian Geographical Reports; Nationalities Papers; Palgrave Communications; REGION: Regional Studies of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia; Regional Science, Policy and Practice; Slovo; Survey Review; Sustainability; Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers; Urban Affairs Review; Urban Research and Practice; Urban Studies; Urban Studies and Practices

Visiting and Honourable Positions

  • Visiting Research Fellow, HSE University (2014 - )
  • Leibniz Fellow, Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (2013-2016)
  • Visiting Scholar, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Research of China, China Academy of Science (2014)
  • Senior Visiting Research Associate, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford (2007-2014)
  • Visiting Scholar, United Nations University - World Institute for Development Economics Research, UNU-WIDER (2008)
  • Visiting Research Fellow, School of Urban Studies, Royal Institute of Technology, KTH (2003-2005)

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy
  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers)
  • Member of the Association of American Geographers


Suitable candidates for a PhD project are welcome to approach me and discuss their ideas. I am interested in supervising PhD students in the broad areas of my research interests and publications. Example projects include:

  • Uneven urban and regional development (uneven resilience, urban neoliberalism, spatial justice) 
  • State geographies, state urbanism, mega-projects, state-led regional development
  • Old industrial regions and turn-around/regrowing cities and regions
  • Post-socialist urban transitions and restructuring
  • Energy transitions and just transition
  • Low-carbon transitions in high-carbon or peripheral spaces
  • Geographies of digitalisation, digital transitions 
  • Smart cities, smart homes (politics and governance)
  • The role of digitalisation in industrial and spatial strategies 
  • Metropolitan periphery, edge city
  • Sustainable cities and sustainable housing

Current supervision

Shuye Wang

Shuye Wang

Graduate Tutor

Linhao Chen

Linhao Chen

Research student

Daniel Dan

Daniel Dan

Research student

Jue Zhou

Jue Zhou

Graduate Tutor

Past projects

Examples of previous PhD projects include: 

O'Sullivan, Kate 2019. Uneven geographies of low-carbon transition: exploring energy vulnerabilities in peripheral communities. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

Pustelnik, Pawel 2016. European struggles and American resistance: inclusion of aviation into the EU ETS. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.