Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Environment and Real Estate

Director Suzanne Fitzpatrick


Director: Professor
Suzanne Fitzpatrick

The Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Environment and Real Estate (I-SPHERE) is among the UK’s top social and urban policy research centres with 25 per cent of its research outputs classed as ‘world leading’ in the UK Government’s 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. Led by Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick the Institute also includes internationally renowned professors: Glen Bramley, Colin Jones, Hal Pawson, Chris Leishman and Mark Stephens.

I-SPHERE members have a robust track record of externally funded research, including research council and charitable funding as well as commissions from a wide range of government departments and agencies throughout the UK and beyond. Strong scholarship credentials are evident in the Institute's publication record. Between 2005 and 2010, the Institute produced 9 research-based books and nearly 60 refereed journal articles. 


The Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Environment and Real Estate was previously named the Institute for Housing, Urban and Real Estate Research (IHURER). IHURER was set up in 2011, bringing together existing research groups within Heriot-Watt University, namely:

  • Centre for Research into Socially Inclusive Services
  • Housing and Urban Society
  • Property Economics and Investment.

I-SPHERE includes Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick and Professorial Fellow Sarah Johnsen, following their move to Heriot-Watt from the University of York in July 2010, and Professors Mark Stephens and Chris Leishman who both moved to Heriot-Watt in 2012.

The former research groups were included within Heriot-Watt University’s submission to the Town and Country Planning Panel in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. The result was that 25% of the group’s research outputs within the relevant period were judged ‘world leading’, with another 30% ‘internationally excellent’.

Following the strategic research alliance between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh formed in November 2012, we collaborate with colleagues in the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture to undertake multi-disciplinary research to address complex challenges. This led to a joint submission to REF2014.