Urban Studies Journal

An International Journal of Research in Urban Studies

Urban Studies Journal

Urban Studies Journal website

Impact Factor: 3.272

Urban Studies 5 out of 40 | Environmental Studies 29 out of 116

Full Journal Indexing and Metrics available here



  1. Aims and Scope
  2. Submission types
  3. Abstracting and Indexing
  4. Submission Guidelines

Aims and Scope

Urban Studies is the leading international peer-reviewed journal for urban scholarship. Since its inception in 1964, the journal has remained at the forefront of intellectual and policy debates on the city, and has hosted ground-breaking contributions from across the full range of social science disciplines. The Editors aim to maintain and extend the role of Urban Studies as the journal of choice for those working on the cutting edge of academic research about cities. We welcome all original submissions that further our understanding of the urban condition and the rapid changes taking place in cities and regions across the globe, whether from an empirical, theoretical, or a policy perspective.

In addition to research articles, Urban Studies publishes peer-reviewed critical commentaries, policy reviews, book reviews besides a regular series of Special Issues. The journal is also committed to developing Social Media as the means of informing debates about the contemporary urban condition.

Urban Studies is published in association with Urban Studies Journal Limited.

Back to top

Submission types

Research articles

Articles may be theoretical or empirical, but authors should note that in the case of empirically focused manuscripts the subject matter should be suitably positioned in theoretical and/or conceptual terms. All articles are expected to have original content. They should not have been previously published, nor be under simultaneous consideration by another academic journal – if this is found to be the case, your paper will be withdrawn immediately. Originality, clarity of writing style, logical structure of argument and integrity of empirical data are essential for an article’s acceptance. Authors are asked to submit articles that convey a strong sense of urban place. Relevant contextual background must be provided to enable an international readership to be fully cognizant of the urban location under study. Any local terms must be explained. The article should not assume any prior knowledge of the local setting. Authors are encouraged to reflect on urban debates in this journal and beyond. Authors need to choose an analytical structure that supports the logical unfolding of the text and assists the reader in following the argument. The structure of an article is greatly enhanced by a strong introduction and conclusion. The introduction is key to signposting what the article is about and the conclusion must highlight the article’s various finding and themes, inter-relating them and drawing attention to their more general analytical significance. The word restriction on submitted manuscripts is between 4,000 and 8,500 words (including references, notes, appendices, tables and figures). Each table or figure will count as 250 words (approximately half a page of text) regardless of size - please disregard its actual word count. If your paper exceeds the specified word limit it will be withdrawn.


Critical Commentaries

Urban Studies has been publishing Critical commentaries since 2008 as a distinct article format. They have subsequently been followed by the introduction of other article formats, including: Policy reviews, Methodological papers and Review papers. This reflects a concern that the conventional research article format can squeeze out other types of innovative contribution. The underlying aim is to encourage more critical debate and reflection in the journal.

Critical commentaries retain a distinctive place within the journal, alongside these other new article types. They aim to provide a forum for urban scholars and researchers to address some of the ‘bigger questions’ surrounding cities and urban development through critical argument and reflection rather than the primary research findings that underpin the conventional research article. They allow for a reasoned and powerful point of view to be presented in a somewhat less formal (and possibly more polemical) style. Relative to Review papers, Critical commentaries are envisioned as shorter, topical think-pieces rather than full-length review articles.

Critical commentaries aim to provide a forum for novel viewpoints of urban issues and questions, where our aim as editors is to encourage submissions from authors capable of taking a critical urban issue and developing a reasoned argument, exposing, inter alia, its nature, context, presentation as discourse, contradictions and implications. Whilst often written from a deep knowledge of particular cities, the scope of Critical commentaries should not be confined to an individual city, seeking to always connect to broader aspects of the urban condition that are of interest to our international readership (see below).

Critical commentaries published by Urban Studies in recent years have covered topics such as urban resilience, the subprime crisis, gentrification and ‘smart urbanism’. We are particularly keen to encourage critical debate through the Critical commentary symposia format which incorporates short responses to the original commentary by other researchers, alongside a reply by the original author. The first of these (published in May 2016) is comprised of a set of responses to Loic Wacquant’s reflections on his Urban Outcasts book, while the second (currently in press) debates the meaning and significance of the post-political condition for cities.

If you would like to discuss a possible Critical commentary submission to Urban Studies, please contact the Critical Commentaries Editor Vanessa Watson at [email protected]. The target length is 4000–6000 words, including references.


Debates in urban studies

We invite critical review articles that outline and assess current trends and developments in key areas of urban studies, summarising existing literature on cities and regions and taking it forward by providing fresh perspectives and insights.

The new section will complement our existing and well-regarded Critical commentaries section. Critical commentaries allow for the development of a reasoned and powerful point of view in a somewhat less formal style than normal articles; short, topical think-pieces rather than full-length review articles. Articles in Debates in urban studies will engage with ongoing debates around specific concepts, trends and urban processes, but offer significant new insights or syntheses, extend urban debates into new areas, or capture an emergent literature around new urban phenomena. We invite papers that will promote new thinking and analysis on the broader urban condition, challenge existing thinking and wisdom, or foster debates within specialist subfields (politics and governance, economic development, culture, housing and real estate, finance and financialisation, labour markets, environment and climate transition, gentrification, marginalisation and exclusion, etc.).

Debates in urban studies offers a potential platform for early career researchers (ECRs) who, through their PhD work or post-doctoral research, have been involved in a substantive and critical engagement with a corpus of urban literature and debate; and also to established scholars wishing to offer meta-perspectives on progress and future directions in their chosen fields of inquiry. For both ECRs and established scholars, the Debates in urban studies section provides a space for new and provocative insights on the urban condition, which, at the same time, demonstrate in-depth and critical knowledge of established and ongoing work in the field.

We invite papers of between 8000 and 10,000 words for Debates in urban studies, to allow sufficient space for rigorous and critical dialogue with existing perspectives and traditions in urban research. We are not seeking extended literature reviews; papers must make a novel contribution, but this can be in a plethora of different ways. In this respect, innovation and creativity in approach are also encouraged.

For further information or advice prior to submitting a paper, prospective authors are strongly encouraged to contact the Debates Editor, Andrew Cumbers, at [email protected] in the first instance with a brief 150 word synopsis setting out the broad idea that they have in mind.


Special Issues

Special Issues of Urban Studies are an integral element of the journal. Widely appreciated by readers, the editors are committed to their continued publication. At present normally 3 or 4 Special Issues appear each year covering a wide range of topics.

Published as an issue of the journal, their publication raises two major challenges (which help distinguish the Special Issue from the edited book). First is the need to ensure that the quality of the published articles is at least equal to that of articles published in ordinary issues of the journal; second, given that the journal is published monthly and that  each Special Issue will have been allocated to a particular month in advance, Guest Editors and contributors need to be fully aware of the strict publishing deadlines imposed by the production schedule. Urban Studies has in place procedures that ensure quality control, (the test of which is that Special Issue articles are regularly among the more highly cited manuscripts published in the journal).

Initial Steps

Many Special issues come about as a result of convenors of conferences or similar sessions wishing to establish whether, in principle, the Editors may be interested in publishing a collection of the papers. Initial contact along these lines is welcome though any support given at this stage can only be in principle. Potential guest editors need to be aware that conference papers, unlike their published counterpart, are much more variable in their quality, and therefore, need to be realistic in what is being proposed. At this stage it is as well to bear in mind that a Special Issue is normally about 90k words in length. (If papers average 8-9k words inclusive, and bearing in mind the need for an Introduction, possible comment papers and factoring in a ‘slippage factor’ (rejections arising from the refereeing process etc), proposers should have an idea of the number of papers required and whether at this early stage a proposal for a Special Issue is feasible.)

The editors encourage discussion of a proposal at this stage. 

Making the Case

Decisions on Special Issue proposals are made collectively by the editors. Potential Guest Editors need to submit a document that

  1. outlines the rationale for the Special Issue, the importance in publishing a collection of papers on this particular topic ( up to 500 words)

  2. a list of the paper titles and abstractsfor each of these ( 200 words or so per abstract). This list should include names of the potential authors and their affiliation.

  3. an outline of the possible/desired timetable for initial submission of the articles (ready, that is, for sending to referees)

All proposals and enquiries should be emailed to the journal administrator responsible for Special Issues, Ruth Harkin, at [email protected].


Manuscript submission guidelines for Urban Studies

Submission FAQs.

Who to contact for more information:

For general information on suitability of a potential contribution in advance of submission, please contact Ruth Harkin.

To discuss a possible Critical Commentary submission contact the Critical Commentaries Editor, Professor Vanessa Watson.

To discuss a possible Debates in urban studies submission contact the Debates in urban studies Editor, Professor Andrew Cumbers.

For all other queries, please contact one of our administration team, Ruth Harkin or Julia Macbeth 



Back to top

Abstracting and Indexing

Academic Abstracts FullTEXT Elite

America: History and Life

Avery Index To Architectural Periodicals

British Humanities Index

Current Contents / Social and Behavioral Sciences

Current Contents/ Social and Behavioral Sciences


Economic Literature Index

Family Studies Abstracts

Geographical Abstracts: Physical Geography

Historical Abstracts

IBZ: International Bibliography of Periodical Literature

IBZ: International Bibliography of Periodical Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Index of Economic Articles

International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences

International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature on the Humanities and Social Sciences

International Development Abstracts

Journal of Economic Literature (and JEL on CD)

Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts

Middle East Abstracts & Index

Multicultural Education Abstracts

PAIS International

Public Administration Abstracts


Social Science Abstracts

Social Sciences Citation Index

Social Sciences Index

Sociological Abstracts

Studies on Women & Gender Abstracts

Urban Studies Abstracts

Back to top

Back to top