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Land Economy

The course

Land Economy is a specialised subject within Cambridge, devoted to the multi-disciplinary study of land, property, the environment and resource management. There is a lively and active group of staff and students, operating within an intensive research-oriented environment. The two primary disciplines are law and economics, but the Department also incorporates geographers, planners and scientists.  It is a small department by Cambridge standards, yet there are over 40 teaching and research staff.

The teaching has been certified by an Independent Panel from the Government’s Quality Agency as being of the highest quality. The undergraduate teaching programme is a full three-year Tripos, in which students are given a solid grounding in microeconomics and macroeconomics, as well as public law (constitutional and administrative )and private law (contract, tort and company law). Later courses build on these legal and economic foundations, and draw together the two disciplines. Examples include papers on land and urban economics, environmental and regional economics, real property law, the law of landlord and tenant, the built environment, urban and environmental planning, real estate finance and investment, agriculture, forestry and rural development, and land policy and development economics.

The programme is rigorous and challenging. Students are introduced to complex debates, and to their practical implications. It is not a programme of vocational training for surveyors, yet it has the advantage of accreditation by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in recognition of the importance of such rigorous education for leading property professionals.

The Department is particularly proud of the employment record of its graduates, which is amongst the strongest in the University, with graduates going into property, law, finance, banking and management consultancy, international development, the not-for-profit sector, as well as going on to further study. The Department has a particularly strong research base, having recently been awarded Grade 5 (the highest grade) in The National Research Assessment Exercise.

Each year the Department has an Open Day to which potential applicants are cordially invited. Further details are available on the page about Land Economy on the University website or alternatively, please see the Department's website.


Pembroke and Land Economy

Pembroke has long established links with the Department of Land Economy: the Department was founded by Professor Donald Denman, who was a Fellow of the College. Pembroke has currently two Fellows in Land Economy, Dr Maria Abreu and Professor Colin Lizieri. The Department, located in Silver Street, is only two minutes walk from the College.

Dr Maria Abreu is University Lecturer in Land Economy, and her research covers urban economics, particularly urban issues such as poverty crime, social exclusion and segregation, economic development, labour markets and graduate career paths.  Prior to coming to Cambridge she worked for the World Bank in the areas of poverty, education and health, in Jakarta, Indonesia.  She teaches several undergraduate courses in the Department, including Land, Development and Sustainability (Part 1A), Land and Urban Economics (Part 1B and Part II) and Land Policy and Development Economics (Part II), in addition to supervising undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations.  She is Director of Studies in Land Economy and Undergraduate Tutor at Pembroke, and Co-Editor of the Journal Spatial Economic Analysis.

Professor Colin Lizieri is the Grosvenor Professor of Real Estate Finances. He is also a Fellow of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and of the Royal Geographical Society. Colin has published extensively in the fields of real estate finance and office market dynamics. He is a member of the Investment Property Forum research committee, and has acted as an expert advisor and consultant to the European Union, the UK and Norwegian governments, the Corporation of London, the City of Toronto and numerous private sector organisations. He has appeared as an expert witness in the Lands Tribunal on real estate matters.



Pembroke regularly accepts two or three undergraduates each year for Land Economy. Numbers fluctuate reflecting the quality of the field; there are no subject quotas.

There are no particular A-level (or equivalent) subject requirements for admission. Economics, Geography and Mathematics will all be very useful, but the course itself provides basic and extra remedial support in Economics, for example.

The admissions process consists of two interviews, one with the Director of Studies (and generally one other Land Economist) and one with the Admissions Tutor, or another Fellow with responsibility for Admissions. The subject interview includes discussion of a problem of policy relevance related to Land Economy, such as land development, urban planning or the environment.  Prior knowledge of the topic is not required, the interviewers will guide applicants through the issues involved, and are more interested in thought processes than in outcomes.  Topics covered in the past include: a proposal to build a regional airport, planning permission for a wind farm close to a settlement, and the policy issues relating to hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).  Applicants will also be asked to submit two pieces of written school work in November. This does not need to be on questions relevant to Land Economy.

A few of the undergraduates reading Land Economy at Pembroke take a year off after completing school before coming up to university, and the College is very happy to receive applications for immediate or deferred entry.

Further enquiries should be addressed to the Admissions Office.

For further information, please see the Department website or the page about Land Economy on the University website. To find out what it could be like to study Land Economy at Pembroke, click to read a day in the life of Thomas, one of our recent graduates.

Go to the Land Economy faculty website