Prof Michael Woods

Prof Michael Woods

Personal Chair

Department of Geography and Earth Sciences

Contact Details


Michael Woods joined Aberystwyth University as a Lecturer in Human Geography in 1996, having completed his first degree of the University of Wales, Lampeter, and his PhD at Bristol University, and was appointed as Professor of Human Geography in 2008. Between 2007 and 2013 he was Director of the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences. In 2014 he was appointed to a four-year post as Professor of Transformative Social Science, responsible for building capacity in social science research across the university.

Mike's research interests focus on rural geography and political geography. He is Co-Director of the Centre for Welsh Politics and Society / WISERD@Aberystwyth, an interdisciplinary research centre bringing together geographers, political scientists, historians and other researchers. He is also Aberystwyth Co-Director of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD), and Co-Director and Theme Leader for the ESRC WISERD/Civil Society Research Centre (2014-19). Mike holds a prestigious European Research Council Advanced Grant, GLOBAL-RURAL, which investigates globalization and rural areas (2014-19) and is Co-ordinator of the €5m IMAJINE project, funded by the European Union's Hoirzon 2020 programme to examine territorial inequalities and spatial justice (2017-2021).

Mike has held previous research grants from the ESRC, AHRC and EU Framework Programme 7, and was Co-Director of the Wales Rural Observatory, a collaborative centre with Cardiff University funded by the Welsh Government to undertake research to support rural development. He is Editor of the Journal of Rural Studies and Co-Editor of the Policy Press Book Series on Civil Society and Social Change.

Mike was elected as  Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2018 and as a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales in 2017. He was awarded the John Fraser Hart Prize for Research Excellence in Rural Geography by the Association of American Geographers in 2010, and has held positions as a Visiting Professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, University of Ljubljana and University of Queensland. Between 2014 and 2016 he was a member of the Welsh Government's Independent Review of Student Finance and Higher Education Funding, chaired by Sir Ian Diamond.



Michael Woods's research interests address the broad fields of rural geography and sociology, political geography, economic geography and social geography, with a particular focus on the politics and dynamics of rural change. His current and recent research falls primarily into five main areas:

  1. The emergent 'global countryside' and the reconstitution of rural places under globalization
  2. The 'politics of the rural', rural policy and rural social movements
  3. Civil society, community governance and participation
  4. The social and economic restructuring of rural communities and regions
  5. Territorial inequalities and spatial justice

Current Research Projects

  • 'The Global Countryside: Rural Change and Development in Globalization (GLOBAL-RURAL)', European Research Council Advanced Grant, 2014-19 (PI, with Jesse Heley). Website:
  • 'Redefining Local Civil Society in an Age of Global Interconnectivity', 2016-18 (PI, with Jon Anderson), part of the ESRC WISERD/Civil Society Research Centre. Website:
  • 'Integrative Mechanisms for Addressing Spatial Justice and Territorial Inequalities in Europe (IMAJINE)', European Union Horizon 2020 Societal Challenges (PI and Coordinator). Website:
  • 'Rural-Urban Outlooks: Unlocking Synergies (ROBUST)', European Union Horizon 2020 Societal Challenges (Co-I), Website:

Selected Previous Research Projects

  • 'Wales Rural Observatory', Welsh Government, 2003-2014
  • 'Developing Europe's Rural Regions in the Era of Globalization (DERREG)', EU Framework Programme 7, 2009-11 (Co-ordinator).
  • 'Globally Engaged? Responses to Neoliberal Globalization among Family Farmers in Australia', Australian Research Council, 2009-11 (Co-I).
  • 'Grassroots Rural Protest and Political Activity in Britain', ESRC, 2006-08 (PI).
  • 'Research Study of the Quality Parish and Town Council Scheme', Defra, 2006 (PI)



Mahon, M, Woods, M, Farrell, M, Jones, R & Goodwin‐Hawkins, B 2023, 'A spatial justice perspective on EU rural sustainability as territorial cohesion', Sociologia Ruralis, vol. 63, no. 3, pp. 683-702. 10.1111/soru.12444
Woods, M 2023, Understanding rural communities. in H Mair (ed.), Handbook on Tourism and Rural Community Development. Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 15-28.
Woods, M 2022, Agribusiness Towns, Globalization and Development in Rural Australia and Brazil. in H Barcus, R Jones & S Schmitz (eds), Rural Transformations: Globalization and Its Implications for Rural People, Land, and Economies. Perspectives on Rural Policy and Planning, Taylor & Francis, pp. 15-31. 10.4324/9781003110095-3
Woods, M 2022, 'Assets and Assemblage in the Global Countryside', Dialogues in Human Geography, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 169-172. 10.1177/20438206221075702
Woods, M & Czapiewski, K, Atlas of Territorial Inequalities (IMAJINE Online Exhibition), 2022, Web publication/site. <>
More publications on the Research Portal