Professor Martin Phillips

Professor of Human Geography

School/Department: Geography Geology & The Environment School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 3886



I have research interests in rural social and cultural geography, society/environment relations, historical geography, and philosophy and social theory in geography. Much of my work focuses on material and symbolic constructions of rural space, particularly linked rural gentrification. This work has included consideration of post-carbon transition, nature and landscape transformations, climate change mitigation and adaptation, comparative research, and processes of social and more-than-human displacement. This research connects to wider interests in society and environment relations. I am currently a member of the Programme Coordination Team of UKRI Landscape Decision Team, and in relation to this I am developing research addressing issues of changing rural land use and their potential impacts on senses of landscape and belonging. Other research interests include the study heritage and museum geographies sociologies of knowledge filmic geographies and the symbolic and affective dimensions of community. I am current Chair of the Rural Geography Research Group as well a member of the AHRC and ESRC Peer Review Colleges.


My current research includes work as part of the Programme Co-Ordination Team of the UKRI Landscape Decisions programme, where I am particularly involved in promoting the significance of arts and humanities as well as social science research in the study of landscape decision making. I am also involved in a project funded by the University's Leicester Institute of Advanced Studies related to the emergence and implementation of concept of Net Zero within and beyond the UK.

Other activities relate to writing up research from a series of research projects funded by the AHRC and ESRC including: Explorations in comparative ruralism in the UK and Japan AHRC/ESRC UK Connections Programme (2020/2021);  International Rural Gentrification (ESRC ANR and NSF Overseas Research Area (2014-2019);  Co-Designing Asset Mapping (2014-2015); Evaluating the Legacy of Animate and Iterative Connected Communities Projects (2014-2015); Affective Digital Histories (2013-2015); Unearthing Hidden Assets Through Community Co-Design and Co-Production (2012-2014); and Revisiting the Mid-Point of British Communities (2012-2013) funded as part of the AHRC's Connected Communities programme.


Recent publications include:

Phillips, M., Smith, D. Brooking, H. and Duer, M. (2021) 'The agencies of living-landscapes in rural gentrification: impressions from the wood, the village and the moortop'. Sociologia Ruralis, 61 (4), 778-807.

Phillips, M., Smith, D. Brooking, H. and Duer, M. (2021) 'Re-placing displacement in gentrification studies: temporality and multi-dimensionality in rural gentrification displacement', Geoforum 118, 66-82.

Smith, D.P., Phillips, M., Kinton, C. and Culora, A. (2021) 'The (im)mobilities of gentrifers and the temporalities of rural gentrification', Population, Space and Place, 27 (7), 27, e2496

Phillips, M. and Dickie, J. (2019) 'Moving to or from a carbon dependent countryside', Journal of Transport Geography, 74, pp. 253-268.

Phillips, M. and Dickie, J. (2019) 'Post carbon ruralities', in Scott, M., Gallent, N. and Gkartzios, M. (eds.) Routledge Companion to Rural Planning (London: Routledge), pp. 521-547.

Smith, D.P., Phillips, M., Kinton, C. and Culora, A. (2019) 'Rural population geographies in the changing differentiated countryside', in Scott, M., Gallent, N. and Gkartzios, M. (eds.) Routledge Companion to Rural Planning (London: Routledge), pp. 239-260

Smith, D., Phillips, M., Brooking, H. and Duer, M. (2019) 'The dynamics of rural gentrification and the effects of ageing on gentrified rural places', Ager: Journal of Depopulation and Rural Development Studies 27, 129-157.

Lam B, Phillips M., Kelemen M., Zamenopoulos T., Moffat S, de Sousa S. (2018) 'Design and creative methods as a practice of liminality in community-academic research projects'. The Design Journal 21, pp. 1-20.

Phillips, M. and Smith, D. (2018) 'Comparative approaches to gentrification: lessons from the rural', Dialogues in Human Geography 8 (1), 3-25

Phillips, M. (2018) 'Gentrification and landscape change', in Lees, L. and Phillips, M. (eds) Handbook of Gentrification (London: Edward Elgar Publishing), pp. 81-102


I am interested in supervising research students in the following research areas: Gentrification; Social class formation and recomposition; Rural migration and mobilities; Rural social exclusion and displacement; Representations of rurality and nature; Rural landscape transformation; Affective geographies of landscape, nature, community and heritage; Affordance and environmental perception; Agricultural transformations; Attitudes and behaviours related to climate change; Energy geographies; Gentrifying nature; Symbolic emotional and affective geographies of community; and Museum Geographies.

I am particularly interested in supervising students on the following topics: Rural and urban gentrification; Transformations in the rural working classes; Changing cultural representations of the countryside; More-than-representational geographies of landscape; Carbonised countrysides and low carbon transitions; Digital agriculture; Representations of past present and future natures; Symbolic and affective constructions of community; Touristic geographies of stillness and the accelerated sublime.


I currently teach on the following modules: GY1411 Human Geography for a Globalised World; GY2414 Research Design and Methods; GY2415 Geographical Research in the Field; GY3417 Critical Symbolic and Emotional Rural Geographies; GY7411 Contemporary Critical Geographies; GY7412 Creative Geographies in Practice; and GY7420/7720 Dissertation

Press and media

Rural social change; Rural landscape change; Attitudes to climate change and climate change mitigation policies.


Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts;  Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society;  Member of the AHRC and ESRC Peer Review Colleges; Chair of the Rural Geography Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society; Affiliate member of the Community Animation and Social Innovation Centre, University of Keele; Member of the Research Centre for Co-Creating Systems of Regional Planning and Management, Tokyo Metropolitan University, Tokyo, Japan.
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