Dr Olivia Wilson

Dr Olivia Wilson

Lecturer in Human Geography (Spatial Planning)

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)



I studied Geography as an undergraduate and postgraduate student at Durham University before moving to New Zealand to lecture at Otago University in 1990. Returning to the UK in 1992, I was a Geography lecturer at De Montfort University until 2004 before moving to Plymouth and working for Plymouth City Council as a spatial planner until 2017 where I gained experience of working in planning policy and development management. Since 2017 I have taught on the MSc Planning course at Plymouth and also on the Geography undergraduate module Sustainable Cities. I also contribute to a careers and employability undergraduate module.  


  • BA (Hons) Geography - Durham University (1986)
  • PhD Geography - Durham University (1990)
  • MA Town and Country Planning - University of the West of England (2006)

Professional membership

Chartered Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) since 2009.



Teaching interests

My main teaching is on the MSc Planning, where I am module leader for PLG502 (Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development); PLG504 (Development Management and Delivery) and PLG505 (Urban Design). I also teach on the Geography undergraduate module GGH3207 Sustainable Cities and GGX2201 Principles and Applications of Geography. 

Staff serving as external examiners

I am currently and external examiner for the MSc Urban Planning at Sheffield Hallam University.



Research interests

My current research focuses on green space and biodiversity in the spatial planning process. I am interested in how central or mainstream biodiversity has become within spatial planning in the UK, and what that means for the geography of biodiversity in terms of spatial planning of protected areas, ecological networks and the wider countryside and urban areas.

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

I supervised Felipe da Silva Machado who was awarded his PhD in March 2020. His thesis topic was: A relational Rural Geography in Brazil: engaging narratives of small-scale fruit farming and resilience in the rural hinterland of Rio de Janeiro.




Recent publications:

Wilson, O.J. and Hughes, O. (2011) 'Urban Green Space Policy and Discourse in England under New Labour from 1997 to 2010', Planning Practice and Research, 26(2), 207-228.

Wilson, G.A. and Wilson, O.J. (2019) 'Assessing the resilience of human systems: a critical evaluation of universal and contexual variables', Resilience, 7(2), 126-148.

Wilson, O.J. (2021) ‘Putting Nature Centre Stage? The challenges of ‘mainstreaming’ biodiversity in the planning process’. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/09640568.2021.1999219.

Taylor, M., Essex, S. and Wilson, O (2021) Solving the Housing Market Crisis in England and Wales: From New Towns to Garden Communities. Geography.  DOI 10.1080/00167487.2022.2019492.