Researchers at UCD


Brendan Williams


School Of Geog, Planning & Env Policy
Planning and Env Policy
Dublin 4

Tel: +353 1 7162765



Brendan Williams lectures in Urban Development and Urban Economics at the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin. He was Deputy Head of school from 2007-2010. He is Director of the Urban Environment Project at the Urban Institute Ireland at University College Dublin and has taught and researched at a number of universities in North America and Europe.  In addition since February 2011 Dr. Williams is Visiting Professor to the School of Public policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University in Boston. He has published approximately 70 scientific papers and edited/co-authored 5 books on various aspects of planning and development in Ireland and internationally.

His doctoral research at TCD Dublin involved investigation of the impacts of fiscal incentives on Urban Regeneration in Dublin (examined by Univ. of Cambridge U.K.).  He currently lectures at undergraduate and post graduate level in Urban Development and Urban Economics and supervises a team of PhDs in related research areas.

He has secured substantial funding from competitively won grants, to conduct research in the area of the urban environment .Total funding in university research projects  successfully completed as a Principal Investigator over the period 2006-2013 exceeds 1. 5 million euro and  resulted in the receipt the Presidents  prize for leadership in EU research in 2012.    His research interest on managing urban development and regeneration is pursued through several ongoing funded projects: Spatial Simulation for Social Sciences (Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences - IRCHSS); Enhancing the MOLAND Model of the Greater Dublin Region: From strengthening theoretical foundations to improving end-user functionality (Science Foundation Ireland - SFI); Fiscal incentives for urban development and housing studies (Society of Chartered Surveyors); Peri-Urban Land use Relationships (European Commission FP6); and Urban Environment Project (Environmental Protection Agency) that he directs since 2009. He has extensive experience in professional consultancy and commercial research in urban development issues for a wide range of clients including the IMF, Government Agencies, Financial and Property companies. In addition he has designed and delivered Continuing Professional Development Programmes for professional and commercial organisations.    

In  2014 he has written book chapters on the residential property crash in Dublin and the state rescue of the banking system in Ireland published by Macmillan and is also co authoring a book on Economics and Property markets in light of the financial crisis in European countries which builds upon a previous co authored book publication Partnerships in Urban Property Development (Wiley Blackwell, Oxford).   

 Recent policy publications include the URBAN ENVIRONMENT SYNTHESIS REPORT 2012 an integrated interdisciplinary report on Decision support tools for managing the urban environment in Ireland ERTDI Final Synthesis Report EPA Ireland publication in ,December 2012. Journal publications include The Role of Property Tax Incentives in Urban Regeneration and Property Market Failure in Dublin. Journal of Property Tax Assessment & Administration  in 2012 and Utilizing an Urban-Regional Model (MOLAND) for Testing the Planning and Provision of Wastewater Treatment Capacity in the Dublin Region 2006¿2026, Planning Practice and Research also in 2012. Applied research inputs in urban and regional policy areas has been significant in 2014. This includes three main strands under the direction of Dr Brendan Williams. The first piece of research examined the role that the Dublin city region has in the national context and its value to Ireland as a global city of scale. The process through which this was achieved was firstly by examining available data and then by using this data to produce a spatial analytical assessment of Dublin¿s role. Reports published 2012/3 are available on With  international research partners we examined the relationship between city development and human talent resources with the positioning of Ireland as the ¿Innovation Island¿, a hub for new cutting edge industries and a country with a talented well-educated workforce. The results and recommendations  published in 2013  bring together a wide range of both national and international evidence to explain the importance of Dublin to national economic health in a global context.

In addition Dr Brendan Williams was a member of the Dublin City Task force which in 2013 reported recommendations on a Vacant lands development levy to address the issue of long term derelict sites. This has led to the ongoing work and research on derelict sites with funded international research projects including EU and USA partners.

Examples of publications include the book on Partnerships in Urban Property Development (Wiley Blackwell, 2009), book chapters Planning and Sustainability:  Metropolitan Planning, Housing and Land Policy (in Housing Contemporary Ireland: Policy, Society and Shelter, Springer, 2007), Blanchardstown, Suburban regeneration and renewal (in Regenerating Older Suburbs, Urban Land Institute, Washington , 2007), The Private Rented Sector in Dublin: Decline and Renewal (in Housing Contemporary Ireland: Policy, Society and Shelter, Springer Press, 2007), and an article Revisiting the Informational City Status Quo: Space of Flows, Polycentricity and the Geography of Knowledge-intensive Business Services in the Emerging Global City-Region of Dublin (Regional Studies, 2008). Dr. Williams is a Planning and development Surveyor and a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and was  Chair from 2003-2005 of the Planning and Development Division of The Society of Chartered Surveyors in Ireland. 





Association: Planning and Development Division for Society of Chartered Surveyors , Function/Role: Secretary
Association: SCS, Function/Role: SCS representative to FIG commission the international organisation for this profession

Conference Contributions

Ustaoglu, E. and Williams, B.; (2009) PLUREL-Sixth General Project Meeting. [Oral Presentation], PLUREL-Peri-Urban Land Use Relationship, Montpellier-France , 11-OCT-09 - 15-OCT-09.
Ustaoglu, E. and Williams, B.; (2009) PLUREL-Fifth General Project Meeting. [Oral Presentation], PLUREL-Peri-Urban Land Use Relationship, Koper-Slovenia , 30-MAR-09 - 02-APR-09.
Ustaoglu, E. and Williams, B.; (2008) PLUREL-M2 Group Meeting. [Oral Presentation], PLUREL, Vienna, Austria , 04-FEB-08 - 05-FEB-08.
Convery, S Williams, B; (2008) Presentation on MOLAND. [Oral Presentation], Conference of Irish Geographers 2008, Institute of Irish Studies, Liverpool , 09-MAY-08 - 11-MAY-08.
Convery, S Williams, B; (2008) IRLOGI Annual Irish Conference for GI Professionals and Researchers. [Oral Presentation], GIS Ireland 2008, Guinness Storehouse, Dublin , 15-OCT-08 - 15-OCT-08.
Brendan Williams; (2006) The integration of enterprise, regeneration and cluster policies in the development of the International Financial services Centre in Dublin. [International Refereed Conference], ERES Conference, Wiemar , 01-JUN-06.


Committee : SCS Education Committee
Committee : SCS Research Committes


Year 1993 Institution: Trinity College Dublin
Qualification: PhD Subject:
Year 1986 Institution: Royal College of General Pract
Qualification: ARICS Subject:


Client: Dublin regional Authority

Other Activities

Policy Advice/Consultancy to Affordable Homes Partnership




Research Interests


His recent main research interest areas include:

* Managing development in the urban environment. (As Director  the urban environment project at UCD)>

 The Economic Competitiveness of the leading European Metropolitan areas
(As main partner in a EU funded research programme)

* Settlement Strategies and Urban Regional Development
(Funded by the local government authorities in the Dublin area)

* Urban Regeneration and future alternative policy options
(Nationally funded research)

* Edge City Development - Planning and Policy Considerations
(E.U. and nationally funded research)

Research Projects

Sponsor : Dublin Regional Authority
Title : Evidence based study on the role and position of the Dublin Region in the development and growth of Ireland's current and future economy
Start Date / End Date : 01-SEP-11 / 31-AUG-14
Sponsor : Higher Education Authority (HEA)
Title : PRTLI 5: ESI-PhD-ENS - Split Accounts School of GPEP
Start Date / End Date : 01-MAR-11 / 28-FEB-16
Sponsor : EC Framework (FP7)
Title : Land Use Modelling and Analysis Network (LUMAN)
Start Date / End Date : 01-NOV-10 / 31-OCT-14
Sponsor : Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS)
Title : Spatial Simulation for Social Sciences
Start Date / End Date : 01-DEC-08 / 30-NOV-09
Sponsor : Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)
Title : Enhancing the Moland Model of the Greater Dublin Region: From strengthening theoretical foundations to improving end-user functionality
Start Date / End Date : 15-SEP-08 / 14-JAN-09
Sponsor : Society of Chartered Surveyors
Title : Fiscal incentives for urban development and housing studies
Start Date / End Date : 24-APR-06 / 30-NOV-07
Sponsor : European Commission FP6
Title : Peri-Urban Land use Relationships (PLUREL)
Start Date / End Date : 01-JAN-07 / 31-DEC-10
Sponsor : Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Title : Urban environment - decision support tools for managing the Urban Environment in Ireland
Start Date / End Date : 01-FEB-06 / 31-JAN-10


Teaching Philosophy

My approach to class and lecture based activities is that I am trying to motivate and encourage my students in a supportive learning environment. I expect the knowledge I have and the frameworks I provide to be the starting point for the students own learning, discovery and development.

Enhancement of Teaching

Essential to my teaching approach is the adaptation of good pedagogic practice based on proven methods to the particular needs of my modules. In my case this involves the need to ensure academic excellence with potential applications to best professional practice. .I have engaged in research work and research with professional institutions to ensure that my teaching skills evolve in a way that enhances these complimentary aims. This has included assisting in professional training and continuous professional development programmes for the planning and development areas and an ongoing interest in professional training and development. This has resulted in access to a very wide range of extra teaching approaches/materials, visiting speakers and research on market trends and data of high relevance to my teaching approach and content. I relate these experiences to the approaches I use in teaching my student groups and expect that they will benefit from both the academic and professional inputs which I bring to my teaching approaches. In turn my expectation is that exposing my students to first and critically a good evidence base and secondly the multiple perspectives involved in debates on issues in the modules

Review and Enhancement of Curriculum

As a member of the programme boards for both undergraduate and post graduate programmes I participate fully in all review mechanisms of curriculum This has regard to educational standards and outcomes and in some of our courses has professional accreditation issues. I have been involved in both general curriculum reviews and also specialist course professional accreditation reviews which have external to university components. . This area can be especially challenging in periods when resources are constrained and reducing. During this period the clear identification of core principles and learning outcomes becomes more critical I believe that quality control remains fundamental during such periods but that the basic elements of a good curriculum in the areas I teach in can be maintained even in times when material resources and technological supports may not be readily available Lastly I have additional experience at an international level of curriculum review procedures in UK and US through my work as a visiting examiner and visiting professor into related urban development and policy courses in both the UK and USA

Developing as a Teacher

Generally my teaching improvement comes from independent research and training opportunities and explorations with colleagues in Ireland and internationally on teaching approaches and student outcomes in related areas. A problematic area in terms of my teaching approaches is probity and ethics in urban policy decision making and resource distribution. Educational literature indicates the problem is common in teaching courses within a professional discipline such as engineering or planning which involve potential tradeoffs between costs and public benefits or safety ( Colby and Sullivan 2008). Literature and discussion with academic colleagues shows most teaching approaches now include case study exercises (often evolving from business school education methods) involving critical decisions in real world problem resolution . In my recent sabbatical period at Northeastern University in Boston I have been involved in the development of a Capstone Urban Policy module with a strong case study element. .I was involved in the development of the module , management and final assessment as a visiting professor .Based on this experience I am researching more fully this teaching approach with a view to introducing similar elements to my existing module Urban and Regional Development.

Innovation & Leadership