University of St Andrews

Centres and Institutes

Arctic Research Centre (ARC)

Led by Sustainable Development at St Andrews, the Arctic Research Centre is a multi-disciplinary (including the Schools of Geography and Sustainable Developmen, Biology and Mathematics) and transnational initiative designed to assess the implications of energy infrastructural development in the region. The High Arctic is presently experiencing the greatest local warming anywhere on our planet with Glaciers melting, permafrost thawing and sea ice retreating at about 4% per decade. These changes are transforming the physical properties of the Arctic Ocean and, therefore, its ecosystems. At the same time retreating ice is increasing the accessibility of the region, increasing economic activity in the area rich of resources and strategically important for shipping activities, further influencing upon the natural habitat and indigenous peoples.

The Arctic Research Centre’s mission is to create and transfer knowledge about developments and pressing needs in the arctic to promote debate, informed policy decision making as well as to provide guidance for institutions and groups of individuals to preserve the region with its rich natural habitat.

For further details, visit the Arctic Research Centre (ARC) website.

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Bell Edwards Geographic Data Institute (BEGIN)

The Bell Edwards Geographic Data Institute (BEGIN) is a network of data researchers in the School of Geography & Sustainable Development. The institute brings together academic staff, postdoctoral researchers and PhD students who work with geographic data and are interested in developing new methods and modelling approaches for geographic problems. The network also provides a platform to promote collaboration, teaching and outreach.

The unprecedented recent developments in geographic data capture technologies, such as tracking and remote sensing, have become ubiquitous and require specific new methodological approaches. The BEGIN institute was set up in 2018 to address this challenge. It brings together SGSD researchers who work in a number of diverse disciplines, including geographic information science (GIS), remote sensing, glaciology and palaeoecology. The aim is to identify similarities and forge connections between these disciplines to support the strategic goal of the SGSD, which is to integrate the study of the Earth systems with its landscapes, peoples, places and environments.

For further details, visit the Bell Edwards Geographic Data Institute (BEGIN) website.

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Census & Administrative data LongitudinaL Studies Hub (CALLS Hub)

CALLS Hub is the Census & Administrative data LongitudinaL Studies Hub, set up by the ESRC in order to support, promote and harmonise the work of the three UK Longitudinal Study Research Support Units:

  • CeLSIUS – supporting the ONS Longitudinal Study of England & Wales
  • SLS-DSU – supporting the Scottish Longitudinal Study
  • NILS-RSU – supporting the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study

The UK Longitudinal Studies (LSs) are unique datasets, which draw from both Census and other Administrative Data sources to provide a richness and coverage unrivalled by other studies.

CALLS Hub provides a central source of information about the data as well as support for those interested in using one or more LS for their research.

Our website provides many resources, including a searchable data dictionary, database of LS-based publications and outputs, and the largest collection of downloadable census forms currently available online.

For further details, visit the CALLS Hub website.

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Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE)

The Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) is an interdisciplinary programme of research concerned with understanding changing ethnic inequalities and identities. CoDE is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

CoDE’s members in St Andrews work with team members at the Universities of Manchester, Glasgow and Oxford. CoDE has over 20 academics, a number of affiliate members and PhD students. We also have a number of valued partners such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Runnymede Trust.

CoDE uses a variety of research techniques and tools to ensure that the potential economic and social benefits of our research are realised. Our focus is on the changes within ethnic groups (their internal structures and formulations of identities) and their external relationships and position in British society.

Bringing together geographers, sociologists, demographers, historians and political scientists, we are researching:  

  • How class, gender, generation, age and place produce different experiences and visions of ethnicity across the UK;
  • How changes in ethnic identities over time were expressed through the emergence of new or mixed identities, as well as the shifting significance of language and religion as a marker of ethnicity;
  • The significance of the context of emigration and arrival in shaping ethnic identities and the long-term trajectories of migrants in British society;
  • How major social changes in Britain’s economic and political structures have impacted on the ethnic inequalities experienced in employment and politics today.

For further details, visit the CoDE website.

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Centre for Housing Research (CHR)

Established in 1990, the Centre for Housing Research (CHR) is one of the leading inter-disciplinary urban research centres in the UK.  Our programme of research is policy-relevant, theoretically informed and centres on geographical, sociological understandings of housing and home.  An important repository for housing related support data in England, our work is organised around two strategic themes: 

  • Homes, Families & Communities
  • Places, Policies & Practices

We have a wealth of theoretical, methodological and disciplinary expertise amongst our team of academics, data analysts and doctoral researchers.  Our work has informed and influenced policy and practice within the fields of housing and regeneration, the third sector, economic development and carbon reduction from the local, through to the national and international level.  Collaborative working and knowledge exchange are central to our activities.

CHR is under the directorship of Dr Louise Reid.       

For further details, visit the Centre for Housing Research (CHR) website.

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Centre for Population Change (CPC)

The ESRC Centre for Population Change (CPC) was established in January 2009. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council it is the UK’s first research centre on population change. Based jointly at the University of Southampton and the National Records of Scotland, CPC brings together expertise from the universities of Southampton, St Andrews , Edinburgh, Strathclyde and Stirling as well as the National Records of Scotland and The Office for National Statistics.

About our research programme

The communities in which we live are being shaped and re-shaped at unprecedented speed. Changing patterns of migration, fertility, family and household dynamics and ageing all interact in complex ways to create the society in which we live. Understanding the extent, drivers and implications of these changes is essential if we are to develop appropriate policy responses at the national, regional and local level - ranging from provision of adequate services to school children through to the design of pension schemes that accommodate today's increasingly mobile population. CPC is carrying out research in the thematic areas of:

  1. Dynamics of fertility and family formation
  2. Household change and living arrangements across the life course
  3. The demographic and socio-economic implications of national and transnational migration
  4. Modelling population growth and enhancing the evidence base for policy

Within each of the four themes there are research projects using a variety of research methods ranging from in-depth qualitative studies to enable us to discover more about underlying individual demographic behaviour, through to complex statistical and economic modelling. For a full overview, download the 'Research activity and highlights 2009 - 2013' brochure.

Publications and Press information

CPC members have contributed over 300 conference papers and invited seminars on core CPC research, over 80 refereed journal articles, and over 100 other works including CPC working papers, book chapters, books and major reports. In addition there is a very successful CPC briefing papers series, which has translated CPC research into a relevant, convenient and useable format for policy makers and practitioners, available in print and online. CPC prides itself on being able to provide expertise and comment on aspects of population change in the UK and elsewhere. Please see our ‘Press information’ page for recent examples of our work in the media and further information on our areas of expertise.

For further details, visit the Centre for Population Change (CPC) website

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Longitudinal Studies Centre - Scotland (LSCS)

Launched in 2001, the LSCS has secured funds from the Scottish Higher Education Council, the Chief Scientist's Office, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Scottish Executive and is the first research centre in Scotland specifically designed to undertake and support longitudinal studies. The major task of the centre is the establishment of the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS) where the census, vital events and health records of a large 5.3% anonymous sample of the Scottish population are linked together. The strategic demographic, socio-economic and health research undertaken by this centre, particularly through the support and use of the SLS, will be directly relevant to the Scottish economy, academic endeavour and the nation's health.

For further details, visit the Longitudinal Studies Centre - Scotland (LSCS) website.

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Scottish Oceans Institute

The Scottish Oceans Institute builds on long heritage in marine and coastal research at St Andrews dating back to the 1880s.  The School of Geography and Sustainable Development makes a distinctive contribution in collaboration with Biology, Maths and Statistics, and Earth and Environmental Sciences, through our major research groups:

  • Environmental Economics and Environmental Policy research group.
    • Our team of environmental economists have conducted range of environmental valuation studies of marine and coastal environmental goods and ecosystem services. Topics of such valuation studies range from the value of reducing marine plastic pollution in the Arctic, marine natural capital in England to the value of coastal water quality in Vietnam.
    • Dr. Darren McCauley leads the work of the Scottish government commissioned Arctic Research Centre, as part of the St Andrews Sustainability Institute, in developing Scotland’s first national strategy on the Arctic alongside SAMS, GCU and UHI. He is also actively involved in a range of environmental impact assessment consultancy positions. 
    • Dr Tim Stojanovic through his marine and coastal environment research team, is developing theories and practical tools for marine governance.  ESRC, NERC and Marine Scotland have sponsored research to develop a socio-economic evidence base to support planning and management on topics such as coastal population, shoreline adaptation, and deep sea biodiversity. 
    • Environmental Change research group have developed expertise on oceanographic processes, remote sensing and land-ocean interactions at high latitudes
      • The glaciology team, led by Prof Doug Benn, are working to improve our ability to predict the impact of the changing oceans on the stability of the great ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland.
      • Prof Bill Austin leads a research team seeking to quantify and understand blue carbon stocks in marine habitats, and has long track record of research on North Atlantic continental margins and shelf seas
      • Geographies of Sustainability, Society, Inequality and Power research group.  Our cultural geographers explore questions of development in marine and coastal contexts and issues of social justice.  Themes of culture, identity, inequality, governance and livelihoods run through research in both the Global South and North. Current work on coastal communities in Scotland focuses on demographic change for social analysis and better policy makingand the role of coastal rowing in making marine recreation more inclusive. International research supported by NERC is currently being undertaken on the effects of el Niño costeroon coastal livelihoods in northern Peru.

GSD has a strong track record in promoting interdisciplinary research across the natural and social sciences.  Geography and SD provides SOI with the capability to understand the relationship between the oceans and humanity more deeply.

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St Andrews Glaciology

St Andrews Glaciology is part of the Environmental Change Research Group, and consists of Doug Benn, Tom Cowton, Heidi Sevestre and Joe Todd. Our research focuses on monitoring and modelling glacier and ice-sheet behaviour, including calving processes, ice/ocean interactions, surge glacier dynamics and glacier response to climate change.

For further details, visit the St Andrews Glaciology website.

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UK Centre for Collaborative Housing Evidence (CaCHE)

CaCHE is the UK’s Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence – a consortium of 11 partners led by the University of Glasgow. It is a five-year programme (2017-2022) funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

CaCHE is an inclusive, all-UK, multidisciplinary partnership between academics and housing policy and practice. It aims to take a housing systems approach to produce evidence and new research to improve housing policy and practice across the UK for all.  

For further details, visit the CaCHE website.


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