Professor Darren Smith

PhD (University of Leeds)

  • Professor of Geography

Academic Career 

  • 2012 onwards: Professor of Geography, Loughborough University
  • 2010: Reader of Geography, Loughborough University
  • 2005-10: Reader of Geography, University of Brighton
  • 2002-05: Senior Lecturer in Geography, University of Brighton
  • 2001-02: Lecturer in Geography, University of Brighton
  • 2001: ESRC Research Fellow / Lecturer, University of Leeds
  • 1999-01: Teaching Fellow in Geography, University of Leeds
  • 1998-99: ESRC Research Fellow (Award R000237318), University of Leeds

Visiting Posts

  • 2017-25:  Adjunct Professor, Hunan University, China (awarded highly-skilled talent R visa for 2019-29)
  • 2023: Visiting Professor, Krakow Pedagogicial University
  • 2018: National Natural Science Foundation of China Visiting Scholarship, Xi’an Jiaotong University, China
  • 2017: Tsinghua University Overseas Scholarship (Visiting Professor), Tsinghua University, China
  • 2016: National Social Science Foundation (Visiting Fellowship), Tsinghua University, China
  • 2013: Visiting Research Fellowship Scheme, Peking University, China
  • 2006: NIRSA Research Fellowship, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Ireland
  • 2006: Visiting Academic Fellowship, University of Melbourne, Australia

Editorial Responsibilities

  • 2020 onwards: Editor: The Geographical Journal, Wiley
  • 2019 onwards: Editor-in-Chief: Journal of Rural Studies, Elsevier
  • 2016 onwards: Editor-in-Chief (co-): Population, Space and Place, Wiley
  • 2016-18: Associate Editor: Journal of Rural Studies, Elsevier
  • 2015-16: Editorial Board Member: Population, Space and Place
  • 2012-16: Editorial Board Member: Journal of Rural Studies

Professional Responsibilities

  • 2021 onwards: Chair, Commission on Population Geography, International Geographical Union (IGU)
  • 2016-21: Vice-Chair, Grant Assessment Panel D, Economic & Social Research Council
  • 2012-21: Steering Committee Member of International Geographical Union (IGU), Commission Population Geography
  • 2007 onwards: Chair of Organising Committee of the International Conference of Population Geographies (ICPG)

Darren’s geographical research is positioned at the interfaces between Population Studies, Urban Studies, Rural Studies, and Migration Studies. 

For the last four decades, his work has investigated the growing links of changing places and social conflicts between different social groups and institutions, fuelling the rise of more exclusive, segregated, and transient societies.

He coined the term studentification to conceptualise processes of change within university towns and cities, and opposition to the growth of student populations and the expansion of higher education. To date, he has researched studentification in UK, Ireland, North America, Australia and China.

In the rural context, Darren's work has examined processes of rural gentrification and migration. He was part of an international research team (iRGENT), funded by ESRC, NSF and ANR, that studied international rural gentrification in UK, USA and France.

Darren currently delivers teaching at all levels of undergraduate and postgraduate study.  He is currently teaching a final undergraduate module titled Rural Futures, and teaches on urban gentrification and studentification as part of a fieldcourse to Paris.

Darren has extensive experience of leading overseas human geography fieldcourses to Athens (Greece), Sousse (Tunisia), and New York City (USA). 

Current Postgraduate Research Students

  • Lingjia Zhao, Planning the new countryside in China
  • Luigi Marfello, Wildfires

Recently Completed PhD Students

  • Niamh McHugh (2023): How do the digital marketing practices of estate agents influence different forms of rural gentrification? A comparative study of three rural parishes
  • Chidinma Okorie (2023) The migration experiences of Nigerian commonwealth scholars educated in Great Britain: leave, learn and return?
  • Charlotte Bolton (2020) The geographies of the English as a Foreign Language industry: International student mobility and homestay accommodation in Brighton and Hove
  • Andreas Culora (2018) Geographies of housing in multiple occupation
  • Alexis Alamel (2015) An integrated perspective of student housing supply and demand: sustainability and socio-economic differences.
  • Stacey Balsdon (2015) ‘Studentsification': Recognising the diversity of student populations and student accommodation pathways
  • Catherine Waite (2015) Professional cricket migrants ‘going Down Under’: temporary, skilled international migration?
  • Hao Gu (2015) Studentification in China: Changing geographies of Haidian District, Beijing


  • Phillips, M., Smith, D.P., Brooking, H., & Duer, M. (2022) The gentrification of a post-industrial rural village: Querying urban planetary perspectives. Journal of Rural Studies, 91: 108-125.
  • Smith, D.P., Phillips, M., Kinton, C. and Culora, A. (2021) The mobilities and (im)mobilities of rural gentrification: moving on or staying put. Population, Space and Place, 27(7), e.2496.
  • Phillips, M., Smith, D.P., Brooking, H., & Duer, M. (2021) The agencies of living-landscapes in rural gentrification: impressions from the wood, the village and the moortop. Sociologia Ruralis, 61(4): 66-82.
  • Phillips, M., Smith, D.P., Brooking, H., & Duer, M. (2021) Re-placing displacement in gentrification studies: Temporality and multi-dimensionality in rural gentrification displacement. Geoforum, 118: 66-82.
  • Gu, H. & Smith, D.P. (2020) Living off the campus: geographies of urban change and studentifciation in Beijing, China. Urban Geography, 41(2): 205-224.
  • Phillips, M., Smith, D.P., Brooking, H., & Duer, M. (2020) Idyllic ruralities, displacement and changing forms of gentrification in rural Hertfordshire. Documents D’analisi Geografika, 66(2) 259-287.
  • Smith, D.P., Phillips, M., Brooking, H., Duer, M. & Kinton, C. (2019) The dynamics of rural gentrification and the effects of ageing on rural places. Journal of Depopulation and Rural Development Studies, 27(1): 129-157.