The dissertation is based around the writing and preparation of an original research project in the form of a master’s dissertation. Students will be required to plan the research their dissertation from an early stage, with ongoing development building on both the mini-project and taught courses developed through the year. The research topic will be defined under the guidance of your dissertation supervisor with the support of the course director. The aim is to produce a unique piece of work with an emphasis on data collection, analysis and visualisation linked to policy and social science orientated applications. We’ve provided examples below of past student work with their kind permission.


Heidi Mok

Linking citizens and open data

“Open data is largely about free access to data without restrictions on what you can do with it and whom you can share it with. For citizens, open data can be used to learn more about local issues, such as government spending, or the water quality of a nearby lake. Yet challenges remain when it comes to everyday people (non data experts) using open data to its full potential. On a practical level, data isn’t always user-friendly or intuitive to work with. It also requires a basic level of technical, statistical, and even visual skills to make sense of. This project explores a workflow for using open data to solve spatial problems. Why is open data important and what can it be used for? What are some tools and steps involved and where are there limitations? By building and evaluating a workflow, insights into some learning gaps are uncovered and discussed in hopes that citizens can continually be part of the ongoing open data debate.”

Heidi’s full dissertation can be downloaded here.


Lyzette Zeno Cortes

An exploration of Street Art in London through Participatory Sensing Data from Instagram

“This research was an exploration of the Street Art appearance in London through Participatory Sensing Systems Data. From the perspective of urban studies, street art remains understudied because of its informal emerging character in time and space. New digital applications such as Global Positioning Systems, embedded in mobile devices, offer the ability to collect and analyse data through participatory sensing systems. The increasing use of these devices and social media-based participatory sensing systems, like Instagram has allowed the proliferation of data.

Instagram focuses on capturing visual content with location and time attributes. The user adds hashtags, based on the words of one’s choosing, to describe the visual content shared. Through the collection of data using hashtags from Instagram such as ‘#streetart’ and ‘#graffiti’, this research measured the level of activity of street art in London in comparison to other countries exposing the spatial patterns amongst the street art events. The street art events were studied as networks, interconnected by their geolocation attributes”


You can download Lyzette’s full dissertation here.

Gareth Simons

A Computational Implementation of Jane Jacobs’ “Generators of Diversity”

“This dissertation explores the development of computational methods for quantifying the presence of Jane Jacobs’ ‘generators of diversity’.

Jacobs posits that diversity fuels webs of social and economic activity, and that this is both a cause and consequence of the agglomeration of people in cities. She argues that cities must be sufficiently heterogeneous and granular for these processes to unfold without hindrance. For this purpose, she proposes four “generators of diversity”, briefly consisting of mixed-uses; porous street networks; buildings of varied age and condition; and a high concentration of people.

The computational methods are implemented using a weighted diversity index; a graph centrality measure based on route complexity, the coefficient of variation of non-domestic property valuations, and a density measure based on the number of addressable locations. They are applied using a localised computational methodology which iterates the measures for each street segment based on local attributes within a range of network path threshold distances, and were applied to 535 towns and cities in England and Wales.”

You can download Gareth’s full dissertation here.