For detailed information on the graduate program in Geography at UBC, applications, deadlines, funding, etc, go here. Read it carefully, and make sure that this is the right place for you.
Entry is highly competitive, but if you are interested in working with me please read what follows very carefully too.
There are many different styles of graduate supervision – from the large research team (where you will often be given a particular project/assignment that fits in to a larger scheme of things) to a more individual approach (where guidance may be at best very general) – and different models work best for different people. None of my graduate students are my full-time research assistants, though on occasion I do provide summer employment for those who want it, and they all work on their own projects; but I do encourage everyone to meet, to read one another’s work, and to discuss. That way research becomes a properly collaborative process, and nobody becomes so immersed in their own world that they fail to lift their eyes to larger questions or the lives of other people. So I don’t have a Grand Scheme, still less the desire (or ability) to administer a team – but it’s surprising (or perhaps not so very much) how often graduate students working on what might seem very different topics find common interests or ideas that bring them together.
This is how I work:
I don’t have set meeting-times (‘every second Tuesday at 10’ fills me with horror): we meet whenever you want or whenever I want, so that there is a purpose to the meeting. We usually meet off campus – preferably over lunch or for wine/beer/coffee in the afternoon (my shout) – so that you get much more of my time, without a desk in between us.
I will read and comment on everything you write that you want me to – so long as you are prepared to read and comment on my drafts too.
It is not my job to identify or schedule the various components of your research: that’s your responsibility. I’ll help in any reasonable way I can, but you must also seek advice from other members of the supervisory committee and, for that matter, from anybody else who might be able to help.
It is my job to help prepare you for an academic career, if that is what you want. So I will work with you on publications – I don’t add my name to them: it’s your work; but I can help you focus an article, identify a likely journal, and flesh out the argument – and I will help you prepare presentations for conferences (which is vitally important and a real art). I will also advise you on jobs, applications, and interviews. And I will give you a copy of every reference letter I write on your behalf.
My job doesn’t end when you get that job – if you need advice on post-doctoral work, grant applications, teaching – I’m still here.
Finally, there is more to life than work – especially if your work is to be any good. But it’s Vancouver: so bring an umbrella and flip-flops.
At present, most of my graduate students work in and around war and political violence; if those aren’t your particular passions or concerns, I’d still be interested to hear from you – particularly if what you have in mind is sufficiently unusual that it isn’t a very obvious fit with somebody else or somewhere else.
Please note that I do not – cannot – provide full finding for graduate students, but on occasion I may be able to provide short-term employment as a Research Assistant from my Research Grant, depending on my needs and your interests and abilities.
If all this hasn’t put you off, then write to me at email@example.com and we can begin a conversation. At this early stage, it would be good to have three things from you:
- a summary of your academic background (I don’t need a transcript, but an indication of the courses that you found particularly interesting would be a help);
- a general statement of what you want to work on (I’m not looking for a formal proposal at this stage, and if it comes to that then I’ll help you work one up, but I do need an indication of the ideas that animate your research – this doesn’t have to mean “theory” still less “Theory” – the substantive focus of your research, where and when (comparative studies are often particularly revealing, either over time or across apace, but this isn’t a requirement), and any (necessarily general) ideas about sources/methods; simply saying (for example) “Political Geography” isn’t much help; I should emphasise that none of this is set in stone, needless to say, and you are perfectly free to change your ideas once you are here;
- a sample of your academic writing
This is a list of the students I’ve worked with/still am working with; dates refer to graduation.
At the University of Cambridge:
1986 Gerry Kearns [Professor of Geography, National University of Ireland – Maynooth]
1987 Felix Driver [Professor of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London]
1990 Nick Fyfe [Professor of Geography, Dundee University]
1991 Iain Black [Senior Tutor, Clare Hall, Cambridge]
1991 Phil Manning [Faculty of Social and Political Science; now Professor of Sociology, Cleveland State University]
1991 William Watson [Faculty of Social and Political Science]
1992 Chris Philo [Professor of Geography, University of Glasgow]
During my tenure at Cambridge I was also Director of Studies in Geography for many undergraduates at Sidney Sussex College, Trinity Hall and Peterhouse who went on to university careers including Tony Bebbington (Higgins Professor of Environment and Societ and Professor, Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, USA); Dan Clayton (Senior Lecturer in Geography, St Andrews); Stuart Corbridge (Vice-Chancellor, University of Durham); Jon French (Professor of Geography, UCL); Yoram Gorlizki (Professor of Government, Manchester); Kate Gough (Professor of Geography, Loughborough University); Trevor Hoey (Professor of Numerical Geoscience, University of Glasgow); Adrian Kearns (Professor of Urban Studies, Glasgow); Michael Mason (Senior Lecturer in Geography, LSE); Joe Painter (Professor of Geography, Durham); Denise Reed (Professor of Geology & Geophysics, University of New Orleans); and Gillian Rose (Professor of Geography, Oxford).
At the University of British Columbia, Vancouver:
1991 Chuck Staddon
1992 Alison Blunt
1992 Noel Castree
1993 Lynn Stewart
1995 Matt Little
1997 Michael Smith
1998 Grant Duckworth
1999 Dan Gibbons
1999 Beth Gilchrist
2000 Graeme Horner
2002 Joe Steele
2005 Adrienne Smith
2008 Beth Hicks
2009 Wes Attewell
2010 Craig Jones
2011 Alyssa Stryker
2013 Paige Patchin (co-supervised with Juanita Sundberg)
2017 Connie Yang
1996 Matt Sparke [Professor of Politics, University of California, Santa Cruz]
1996 Bruce Braun [Professor of Geography, University of Minnesota]
1997 Alison Blunt [Professor of Geography, Queen Mary, University of London]
1997 Lynn Blake
1998 Noel Castree [Professor of Geography, University of Wollongong, Australia]
2001 Caroline Desbiens [Professeure titulaire and Canada Research Chair in Historical Geography of the North, Université Laval]
2003 Matt Farish [Associate Professor of Geography, University of Toronto]
2004 Alex Vasudevan [Associate Professor of Geography, Oxford University]
2005 Natalie Oswin [Associate Professor of Geography, McGill University; Managing Editor, Society & Space]
2005 Laimonas Briedis (co-supervised with Robert North)
2006 David Nally [Senior Lecturer in Geography, University of Cambridge]
2008 Helen Watkins [Research Manager, Human History, Glasgow Museums]
2012 Sara Koopman [Assistant Professor in Peace Studies, Kent State University]
2013 Oliver Belcher [Assistant Professor of International Relations and Security, University of Durham]
2017 Wes Attewell [Visiting Assistant Professor, Asian/Pacific/American Studies, New York University]
2017 Craig Jones [Lecturer in Political Geography, University of Newcastle]
2019 Jeff Whyte [British Academy Newton International Postdoctoral Fellow, Manchester University, UK]
2020 Paige Patchin [Lecturer in Race, Ethnicity, and Postcolonial Studies, Institute of Advanced Studies/Department of Geography, University College London, UK]