Rebecca Payne

About me: My undergraduate degree was in English Literature at Warwick. I spent the majority of these years wandering about unfamiliar Social Science and Geography sections of the Library, searching for research on space, place and the city. Warwick’s fabulous English department encouraged students to engage with diverse critical theory: thinkers such as Raymond Williams, Henri Lefebvre and Frederic Jameson piqued my interest in how different landscapes, particularly urban, are constructed and represented.

In 2013 I completed an MSc in Urban Studies at UCL. This course nurtured my curiosity for interdisciplinary research on cities, leading me to investigate everything from waterborne freight in redevelopment projects to 1990s Acid House music and illegal raves. After the Masters I worked on EU Horizon 2020 and other research projects at a small social enterprise, before moving into Higher Education services in 2016.

Outside academia I love running, yoga, and growing tomatoes on my tiny window ledges. I spend as much time as possible walking in the Lake District and Scotland: one day I will set up an urban research centre in the Outer Hebrides!

My research: My PhD draws together the slightly disparate strands from my previous educational guises. I’m exploring how London is imagined and represented by different actors within the Higher Education sector, including students themselves. In particular, I’m interested in how HE’s portrayal of London overlaps with representations of the city in other sectors such as tourism, how these contemporary depictions connect to earlier representational traditions such as print media, and what this can teach us about the relationship between universities and the city. Primarily I will interview HE staff and students, and analyse online marketing materials and social media. I will also conduct archival research of student magazines, university handbooks, and newspapers.

As well as contributing individually to Geography, Urban Studies, Higher Education Studies and Social Sciences, my research forges new interdisciplinary connections between traditionally distinct fields. My project will also involve developing new methodologies to explore students’ imaginations and experiences of London. As both an employee and student of UCL, I will also contribute to discussions around positionality and insider research.

Supervisor: Dr Andrew Harris and Dr Georgina Brewis

Pathway: Urban Studies, Transport and Architectural Space

Location: UCL Department of Geography


Twitter: @RebeccaLIPayne