Professor Tom Goodfellow

School of Geography and Planning

Professor of Urban Studies and International Development

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+44 114 222 6913

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Professor Tom Goodfellow
School of Geography and Planning
Room F16
Geography and Planning Building
Winter Street
S3 7ND

Tom Goodfellow is Professor of Urban Studies & International Development at the University of Sheffield.  His research focuses on the political economy of urban development and change in Africa, particularly the politics of urban land and transportation, conflicts around infrastructure and housing, and urban institutional change.

He has conducted research in Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, Tanzania and Kenya, with a range of institutional partners in Africa including Makerere University, Addis Ababa University, University of Lagos and University of the Witwatersrand. His current and recent research is mostly funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council and Global Challenges Research Fund.

He has also engaged in advisory work for a range of international organizations including Oxfam GB, ICF International, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, DFID (now FCDO) UN-HABITAT, The UN Economic Commission for Africa, the Swiss Development Corporation, and the governments of Rwanda and Uganda.

He is a Trustee of the IJURR Foundation, sits on the Editorial Board of the journal African Affairs, is co-author of Cities and Development (Routledge, 2016) and author of Politics and the Urban Frontier: Transformation and divergence in late urbanizing East Africa (Oxford University Press, Forthcoming).


PhD Development Studies (LSE)

MSc International Relations (LSE)

BA Social and Political Sciences (Cambridge)

Research interests

My research interests centre on the politics of urban development and planning in the global South, especially sub-Saharan Africa. I am especially interested in the processes of bargaining and negotiation – both explicit and implicit, formal and informal – that shape different paths of urban transformation in the developing world.

My research has focused on issues such as how urban informal workers engage with elites in conflictual and collusive ways to secure their livelihoods and bring about (or resist) urban change; the relationship between evolving urban landscapes, political coalitions and property tax regimes; the interplay of formal and informal institutional systems for governing urban land and infrastructure; and violence and protest as forms of urban political engagement.

Much of my work is based on comparative case study approaches to understanding cities and urban phenomena. I strongly believe in the value of both geographic and historical comparison for understanding the drivers of urban development and change.

Central issues motivating my current and planned future research projects include the following:

  1. How are power relations and ‘political settlements’ reflected in urban landscapes, and conversely how do changes to the urban built environment shape politics and power?
  2. How can marginalised urban groups exert agency in formal and informal processes that affect their working conditions, homes, mobility and access to services?
  3. How can our understanding of urban challenges facing parts of the global South today be enhanced though comparison with historical experiences of state-building and city-building elsewhere?
  4. How is urban development in Africa being influenced by an increasingly diverse range of international donors and investors, particularly with regard to the politics of land, infrastructure and housing?

Research projects 



  • Goodfellow T (2023) Controlling the Capital Political Dominance in the Urbanizing World. Oxford University Press. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Goodfellow T (2022) Politics and the Urban Frontier. Oxford University PressOxford. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Fox S & Goodfellow T (2016) Cities and Development. London: Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


  • Goodfellow T & Jackman D (2023) Generativity and repression, Controlling the Capital (pp. 30-51). Oxford University PressOxford RIS download Bibtex download
  • Goodfellow T & Jackman D (2023) Introduction, Controlling the Capital (pp. 1-29). Oxford University PressOxford RIS download Bibtex download
  • Goodfellow T & Jackman D (2023) Conclusions, Controlling the Capital (pp. 234-254). Oxford University PressOxford RIS download Bibtex download
  • Huang Z & Goodfellow T (2022) Centralizing Infrastructure in a Fragmenting Polity: China and Ethiopia's 'Infrastructure State', RISE OF THE INFRASTRUCTURE STATE (pp. 122-136). RIS download Bibtex download
  • (2021) At the city edge, African cities and collaborative futures Manchester University Press RIS download Bibtex download
  • Behuria P & Goodfellow T (2017) The disorder of 'miracle growth' in Rwanda: Understanding the limitations of transitions to open ordered development, Deals and Development: The Political Dynamics of Growth Episodes (pp. 217-249). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Goodfellow T (2016) Urban Informality and the State: A Relationship of Perpetual Negotiation, The Palgrave Handbook of International Development (pp. 207-225). Palgrave Macmillan UK RIS download Bibtex download
  • Goodfellow T & Beall J (2014) Conflict and post-war transition in African cities In Parnell S & Pieterse E (Ed.), Africa's Urban Revolution RIS download Bibtex download
  • Goodfellow T (2014) Fragile States In Desai V & Potter R (Ed.), The Companion to Development Studies RIS download Bibtex download
  • Goodfellow T (2013) Urban planning in Africa and the politics of implementation: contrasting patterns of state intervention in Kampala and Kigali In Arlt V, Macamo E & Obrist B (Ed.), Living the city in Africa RIS download Bibtex download

Book reviews

Working papers

  • Goodfellow T & Owen O (2018) Taxation, Property Rights and the Social Contract in Lagos. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Goodfellow T & Behuria P (2016) The political settlement and ‘deals environment’in Rwanda: Unpacking two decades of economic growth. Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre, Working Paper No. 57. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Goodfellow T (2015) Taxing the Urban Boom: Property Taxation and Land Leasing in Kigali and Addis Ababa. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Goodfellow T (2011) The institutionalisation of'noise'and'silence'in urban politics: case studies from East Africa. Queen Elizabeth House Working Paper Series. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Goodfellow T & Beall J (2011) Cities, conflict and state fragility. Crisis States Research Centre, Working Paper 85.2. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Goodfellow T (2010) ’The bastard child of nobody’?: anti-planning and the institutional crisis in contemporary Kampala. Crisis States Research Centre, Working Paper No. 67.2. RIS download Bibtex download


  • Goodfellow T () Boda-boda. RIS download Bibtex download


Research group

Associate Researcher, Urban Institute

Associate Fellow, Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI)

Fellow, Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID)


PhD Supervision

I am Primary Supervisor for the following PhD students:

  • Sally Faulkner, Vulnerable communities, collective bargaining and climate change adaptation
  • Fatima Mohammed, Resettlement and rehabilitation initiatives in Nigeria
  • Selam Robi, Industrial park cities in Ethiopia
  • Noranida Zainal, Power and participation in Kampong Bharu: reconstructing governance through the creation of an urban development corporation

Interested in PhD study?

I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students who have interests in the following:

  • Chinese influence in African urban development
  • Political economy in the Global South
  • Land use and housing in the Global South

Migration, Urbanisation and Conflict in Africa (UKRI-ARUA)

Youth and the Work/Housing Nexus in Ethiopia and South Africa (British Academy/GCRF)

Teaching interests

Cities; urban theory; urban development in the global South; critical development studies

I love teaching the diverse groups of students we have in the department, and aim to make the most of opportunities for people from very different backgrounds to share their knowledge and perspectives.

I think it is critically important to engage head-on with the contradictions and conflicts generated by different experiences and views of the world, and in my teaching aim to provide a forum for exploring and working through these differences. I enjoy finding innovative ways to stimulate active learning and to apply academic debates to concrete development and urban policy problems.

Teaching activities

I currently teach on the following modules:

  • TRP131, The Making of Urban Places
  • TRP 632, Ideas and Practice in International Development
  • TRP633, International Consultancy Project
Professional activities and memberships

Trustee, IJURR Foundation

Editorial Board Member, African Affairs