Elsbeth Robson MSP_9762

Dr Elsbeth Robson

Senior Lecturer in Human Geography

Faculty of Science and Engineering


01482 465353

Elsbeth is a human and development geographer with research and teaching interests in social inequality, ethics and social justice, particularly with respect to women and children/youth. Her research embraces qualitative, participatory and quantitative research methods. Geographically her research concentrates on sub-Saharan Africa. In the UK Dr Elsbeth Robson has been employed by/affiliated with the Universities of Keele, Durham, Liverpool and Brunel and in Africa the University of Malawi and Ahmadhu Bello Unversity, Nigeria. She has been a visiting scholar at the University of Zimbabwe, Gothenborg University (Sweden), University of Oulu (Finland) and Leiden University (Netherlands).


Research Interests

Engagement with policy and practice underlies my research / consultancy and I have considerable experience of knowledge exchange ensuring policy relevance and maximum impact. My recent research and consultancy in Malawi (2004-2013) involved collaborating internationally with universities, government and non-governmental organizations; while being informed by political economy and feminist theoretical approaches (with a concern for ethics).

Research groups

Knowledges, Cultures & Space research group

Centre for End of Life Studies

Institute of Applied Ethics

Centre for Spirituality Studies

Major research projects:

Building an Evidence Base to Support and Enhance Community Health Workers' (informal) use of Mobile Phones in Ghana, Malawi and Ethiopia

MRC-Wellcome Trust-DFID-ESRC 2018-2019 £197,472 PI Kate Hampshire (Durham)

Social Cash Transfers, generational relations and youth poverty trajectories in rural Lesotho and Malawi

ESRC-DFID PI Nicola Ansell (Brunel), CoIs Robson, van Blerk, Hajdu, Mwathunga, Hlabana 2015-2018, £338,000


Mobile Phones and Youth in Africa

ESRC-DFID PI Gina Porter (Durham) co-I Kate Hampshire (Durham) et al 2012-2015, £460,000


Children, Transport and Mobility in Sub-Saharan Africa

Developing a Child-Centred Evidence Base to Improve Policy and Change Thinking Across Africa

ESRC-DFID PI Prof Gina Porter (Durham), co-I Kate Hampshire (Durham) et al 2006-2009, £353,932.


Averting 'New Variant Famine' in Southern Africa: building food-secure livelihoods with AIDS-affected young people

DFID-ESRC £201,757 2007-8 PI Prof Nicola Ansell (Durham), Co-Is Lorraine van Blerk (Dundee) & Elsbeth Robson


Porter, G., Hampshire, K., Robson, E., Abane, A., Mashiri, M., Munthali, A. 2017 Young People’s Daily Mobilities in Sub-Saharan Africa: Moving Young Lives Palgrave Macmillan DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-45431-7 http://www.palgrave.com/de/book/9781137454300

Robson, E; Porter, G; Hampshire, K; & Bourdillon, M. 2009 ‘Doing it right?’: working with young researchers in Malawi to investigate children, transport and mobility Children’s Geographies vol. 7, no. 4, pp467-480. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14733280903234535

Robson, E. 2004 'Hidden child workers: Young carers in Zimbabwe' Antipode vol. 36, no. 2, pp227-248. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8330.2004.00404.x/abstract

Robson, E. 2002 ''An unbelievable academic, and personal experience': Issues around teaching undergraduate fieldcourses in Africa' Journal of Geography in Higher Education vol. 26, no. 3, pp.327-344.http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0309826022000019909

Robson, E. 2000 ‘Wife seclusion and the spatial praxis of gender ideology in Nigerian Hausaland.’ Gender, Place and Culture: Journal of Feminist Geography vol. 7, no. 2, pp179-199.http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/713668870

Full list 


Programmes taught on (2019)

Modules list

16671 : Worlds of Connection & Difference

16681 : Exploring Worlds Around Us

16273 : Research Methods 2

16302 : Geography Dissertation

16372 : Children’s Geographies (module leader)

16463 : Contemporary Research in Human Geography

Research PhDs

Sub-Saharan Africa


Children and youth

Gender and feminism

Completed PhDs 

Ansell, Nicola 1999 ‘Southern African secondary schools: places of empowerment for rural girls? Cases from Lesotho and Zimbabwe’, Department of Environmental Social Sciences: Keele University.

Current PhDs 

Bronia Cross (University of Hull studentship 2014 - 2017) ‘Colonial childhoods in Nyasaland’

Kalliopi Kaparounaki (University of Hull studentship 2014 - 2017) ‘Caregiving children in Malawi’

Mayeso Lazaro (University of Hull studentship 2015 -2018) ‘Grandparenting in the context of HIV/AIDS and poverty in rural Southern Malawi’

Mbali Pewa (Commonwealth Scholarship 2015 – 2018) ‘Waste recycling and poverty alleviation in peri-urban South Africa’

Jenna Treen (ESRC DTP 1+3 studentship 2017 - 2021) 'the Prevention of Child Trafficking in Nigeria'

Teaching awards and accolades

2015 Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

2006 MA Learning & Teaching in Higher Education, Keele University

2004 Postgraduate Certificate Teaching & Learning with Technology, Keele University

1997 Higher Education Teaching Certificate (Level III/SEDA*), Keele University

1997 Accreditation as a Teacher in Higher Education, SEDA

*SEDA is the Staff and Educational Development Association.

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

2001 DPhil University of Oxford ‘Gender, space and empowerment in rural Hausaland, Northern Nigeria’

2006 MA Learning & Teaching in Higher Education, Keele University

1990 BSc Hons Geography 1st class Durham University

External roles

Chair, Research and Evaluation Ethics Committee, Save the Children UK (2015- present)

Co-editor Children's Geographies Journal (2012-2015)

Editorial board member Children's Geographies (2002-present)

Editorial board member Journal of Geography in Higher Education (2000-2014)

Past committee member of Royal Geographical Society- Institute of British Geographers: Women and Geography Study Group/Gender and Feminist Research Group; Geographies of Justice Research Group; Developing Areas Research Group; Geographies of children, Youth & Families Research Group

Professional highlights

Invited contributor to UNICEF Expert round table on children's Care Work, Florence, Dec 2016.

Consultant for and contributor to UNICEF Ethical Research Involving Children: International Charter and Guidelines www.childethics.com

FRGS (Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers, since 1990)

Member of the Association of American Geographers