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Nick Morton

pcp nick morton

Associate Dean (Student Experience)

Faculty of Technology, Engineering & the Environment

0121 331 7405
Current Activity

Nick teaches on the following courses:

Nick is Head of Birmingham School of the Built Environment. His subject expertise is in planning and related processes – specifically, in greenspace planning, urban form and placemaking, land-use change, and planning history. He also has a long-standing interest in pedagogic research and general learning and teaching issues, and holds a prestigious National Teaching Fellowship awarded by the Higher Education Academy. His research in the field of urban morphology has been published in sector-leading journals including Urban Studies and Cities, and he is currently part of a research team examining decision-making processes in the rural-urban fringe.

Areas of Expertise
  • Professional Skills
  • Planning Practice
  • Environment
  • People, Place and Space
  • Green and Open Space

Nick is Head of Birmingham School of the Built Environment, having joined what is now Birmingham City University in 2003. He was Course Leader for the School’s RTPI-accredited undergraduate planning degrees for a number of years, including leading the design of the BSc (Hons) Planning & Development route in 2006, and was appointed Director of Undergraduate Studies to overview the entire BSc programme in 2008. In 2010 he was appointed Head of his department, which in 2011 was renamed Birmingham School of the Built Environment to coincide with moving to the City Centre Campus at Millennium Point. He was elected Vice-Chair of the UK’s Council of Heads of the Built Environment (CHOBE) in 2012.

Prior to joining the University, he completed a PhD in urban geography and planning at the University of Birmingham in 1998, and worked on number of research projects, including as Principal Researcher on a Leverhulme Trust-funded project entitled Historical Layering and the Form of Urban Regeneration. He also held various Visiting Lecturer posts at UCE Birmingham (as it was then called), the University of Leicester, and the University of Wolverhampton.

In recognition of his innovative classroom teaching and track record in curriculum development, he was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy in 2006, building upon a University Teaching Fellowship won in 2005. As part of a cross-University research team, he secured one of the first round of National Teaching Fellowship Scheme Projects, worth £200,000, in 2007.

He has also carried out consultancy work for Birmingham City Council and Stratford upon Avon District Council, and his most recent publication, ‘Drawing lines on maps: morphological regions and planning practices’ (with Professor P.J. Larkham), appears in the October 2011 edition of the journal Urban Morphology.


PG Cert Ed., UCE Birmingham (2004)
PhD, Development Control, Conflict and Change in the Residential Townscape, University of Birmingham (1998)
BSocSci (Hons) Geography and Planning (1st Class), University of Birmingham (1993)


Association of National Teaching Fellows, funded by the Higher Education Academy

Executive Group of the Council of Heads of Department of the Built Environment (CHOBE)


Research Grants and Projects

‘Managing Environmental Change at the Rural-Urban Fringe’, Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (£145k; co-investigator)

‘It’s Everyone’s School: the student view on the student experience in PCP’, Student Academic Partners scheme, BCU (£1.5k; lead and author)

‘Creating Future-proof Graduates’, National Teaching Fellowship Scheme Project, Higher Education Academy (£200k; co-author and Board member)

‘Supporting a Diverse Student Population’ and ‘Enhancing Employability Through the Use of Gaming and Simulation’, UCE Birmingham Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund (project leader, and co-leader/co-author (latter))

‘Historical Layering and the Form of Urban Regeneration’, Leverhulme Trust (£50k; co-author and named research fellow)

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow on projects funded by (i) British Academy and (ii) Natural Environment Research Council, University of Birmingham


Selected publications

‘Drawing lines on maps: morphological regions and planning practices’, Urban Morphology vol. 15 no. 2 pp. 133-151 (with P.J. Larkham)

‘Creating future-proof graduates using scenario based learning’ in Errington, E. (Ed.) Preparing Graduates for the Professions using Scenario Based Learning, Brisbane, Australia, Post Pressed Publications (with A Hill, C Popovic, R Lawton and J Eland)

'Using Critical Incidents to Create Learning Pathways Between the Real World and Places of Learning: Findings from a 2 Year Funded Project Aimed at Improving Understanding and Capability in Key Employability Skills' The International Journal of Learning 16 (with A. Hill, C. Popovic, R. Lawton, J. Eland, R. Curzon, D. Eastcott and C. Tomas)

‘The Fringe-belt Phenomenon and Socio-economic Change’, Urban Studies 43 (11), pp. 2047-2066 (with J.W.R. Whitehand)

‘The Effectiveness of e-learning’, International Journal of Architectural Engineering & Design Management - Special issue on Teaching and Learning in the Built Environment, pp. 73-86 (with E. Chinyio)

‘Urban Morphology and Planning: the case of fringe belts’, Cities 21 (4) pp. 275 – 89 (with J.W.R. Whitehand)

‘Fringe belts and the recycling of urban land: an academic concept and planning practice’, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 30 (6) pp. 819 – 39 (with J.W.R. Whitehand)

‘Fringe belts and city planning: reality and potential’, in Petruccioli, A. (Ed.), The Planned City?, Proceedings of the International Seminar on Urban Form, July 2003, Uniongrafica Corcelli Editrice, Bari, pp. 742 – 48 (with J.W.R. Whitehand and M.I.W Hopkins)

‘Reinventing Morphological Regions?’, Urban Morphology Vol. 6 (2) p. 97

'Urban morphogenesis at the micro-scale: how houses change' Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 26 (4) pp. 503 - 15 (with J.W.R. Whitehand and C.M.H. Carr)


Residential Character Study of Stratford-upon-Avon, Report commissioned by Stratford-on-Avon District Council (with P.J. Larkham, D. Chapman, and A. Birkamshaw)

Measuring the Benefits of Urban Green Spaces, Report commissioned by the Landscape Practice Group, Birmingham City Council

Selected Conference Papers

‘Mapping conservation areas: measuring aspects of character and drawing designation boundaries’, 2011 UK/Ireland Planning Research Conference (with P.J. Larkham)

'The Creative dynamic: innovative solutions to teaching transferable skills in the classroom', Presented at INTED 2009, Valencia, Spain (with A. Hill, R. Curzon, C. Tomas, J. Eland, R. Lawton and C. Popovic)

‘Reshaping Places: changing the character of Birmingham’s suburbs’, Birmingham City University RESCON 09 (with P.J. Larkham)

‘Increasing density in mature suburbs: character, resistance and quality?’, Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference, London (with P.J. Larkham)

Enhancing Employability through Games and Simulations’, Workshop at Leeds Metropolitan University (with R.L. Curzon and Hill, A.)

‘The Educational Value of Games’, First-Year Learning Experiences: Sharing Good Practice Conference, Leeds Metropolitan University

'Suburban Form Under Pressure: contemporary change and the phenomenon of "garden-grabbing"', English Heritage/IHBC conference Suburbs: buildings and society, University of Oxford

‘Enhancing Employability through Games and Simulations’, Creativity or Conformity?: building cultures of creativity in higher education Conference, Cardiff

'Drawing lines on maps: morphological regions and planning practice', Conference of the Nordic Network on Urban Morphology, KTH Stockholm (with P.J. Larkham)

‘Change and Continuity in the UK’s Traditional Suburbs’, ISUF Symposium on Tradition and Modernity in Urban Form, London (with P.J. Larkham)

‘Suburban character and intensification: tensions and policy approaches in the Birmingham region’, Planning Research Conference, Manchester (with P.J. Larkham)

‘Using peer ‘vocational’ mentors and other pedagogical approaches to create a climate for shared learning’, SEDA/AISHE Spring Conference on Inspiring Learning: Diversity and Excellence, Belfast (with A. Hill)

‘A little bit of what you fancy’,International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference, Bloomington, USA (with A. Hill)

‘Fringe belts and city planning: reality and potential' International Seminar on Urban Form, Trani, Italy (with J.W.R. Whitehand and M.I.W. Hopkins)