Dr Aidan While

Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Senior Lecturer

+44 114 222 6184

Full contact details

Dr Aidan While
Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Room C4a
Geography and Planning Building
Winter Street
S3 7ND

After studying for a BA and MA in Art History and English, I discovered planning via the Masters in Civic Design (RTPI-accredited) at the University of Liverpool.

I then studied for a part-time PhD on Partnerships and Regional Economic Governance (awarded 2001) whilst working as a Research Assistant in the Centre for Urban Development and Environmental Management (CUDEM) at Leeds Metropolitan University.

After completing my PhD, I was a Research Fellow in the Department of Geography, University of Hull and Lecturer in Urban Planning at the University of Manchester. 

I joined the Department of Urban Studies and Planning in the summer of 2004. 

Editorial board involvement includes being Associate Editor for the Journal of Planning Theory and Practice and an editorial board member for Town Planning Review. I am also a member of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Policy Review College and an external examiner for postgraduate planning programmes at the University of Newcastle. 

Research interests

Governance of new economic spaces

I have completed three interlinked research projects on planning for high-growth ‘new economic spaces’ involving case-study research in Cambridge (UK), Stockholm, Munich, Seattle, Boston (USA), Bangalore and Kuala Lumpur.

Funded by the British Academy and the Nuffield Foundation, the central concern of this research has been to examine the effectiveness and outcomes of growth management in different national and regional contexts.

This research has opened up new research agendas on growth coalitions and the politics of collective provision.

Implications of climate change and climate policy for urban and regional governance

A second strand of my research focuses on the implications of climate change and climate policy for urban and regional governance. I am particularly interested in the impact of the carbon calculus on policy and investment decisions.

This formed the basis of a recent British Academy funded project on ‘Carbon value change and policy choices in local governance’.

Current and Recent Research Projects


Edited books

Journal articles


Book reviews

Conference proceedings papers


  • Marvin S, While A, Kovacic M, Macrorie RM & Lockhart A (2018) Urban Robotics and Automation: Critical Challenges, International Experiments and Transferable Lessons for the UK RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dunning R, Henneberry J, Inch A, Payne S, Watkins C, While A, Young G & Hickman H (2017) Attitudinal research on financial payments to reduce opposition to new homes View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dunning R, Watkins C, Inch A, Payne S, While A, Young G, Hickman H, Bramley G, McIntosh S, Watkins D & Valler D (2014) The impact of the New Homes Bonus on attitudes and behaviour View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
Research group

PhD supervision 

I am Primary Supervisor for the following PhD students:

  • Rachel Bust, Safeguarding mineral resources as national assets: a contemporary exploration
  • Farah Haji Mustafa, Tourism planning: “Building Marvel” as the main urban tourism product in attracting visitors
  • Taekyung Song, The construction of a new approach to securing and utilising human rsources and technologies in South Korea

I welcome applications for PhD research on topics related to my main research interests, including: planning for climate change; low-carbon policy; the relationship between planning and economic development; growth management and sustainable development.

Teaching activities

My teaching seeks to promote (and provoke) critical debate about the processes and outcomes of decision-making. Emphasis is placed on helping students develop an appreciation of the full implications of policy choices and the possibility for alternatives.

The intention is to equip graduates with the skills, knowledge and understanding to make a difference in their future careers.

An important part of this approach is to create space for discussion and debate through workshops, seminars and student presentations and my modules have been designed to allow the latest ideas to be brought directly into teaching.

In 2007 I was awarded a University of Sheffield Senate Award for innovation in interdisciplinary teaching.

I currently teach the following modules: