Zubeida Lowton


Research title: Analysing Socio-Spatial Transformation in Post-Apartheid South Africa: A Comparative Case Study of Johannesburg and Cape Town

Research Summary


Analysing Socio-Spatial Transformation in Post-Apartheid South Africa: a Comparative Case Study of Johannesburg and Cape Town


My research seeks to investigate the present socio-spatial transformation in post-apartheid South African cities, with a reflection on the legacy of socio-spatial fragmentation during apartheid. In order to do this, the research explores the relationship between urban form and the everyday socio-spatial interaction and experiences of users in public spaces. The continued reproduction of inequality will be assessed by investigating influences of social segregation and spatial fragmentation in post-apartheid cities. A comparative case study of Johannesburg and Cape Town is central to gaining a deeper understanding of the socio-spatial transformation influences affected the social interaction in city spaces. Johannesburg was economically successful due to the discovery of gold in 1886, however since post-apartheid the city has undergone a decline of the city centre. Cape Town on the other hand still has a thriving city centre and remains a top tourist destination. Cape Town is the oldest established city in South Africa and was establish during the 1600s due to the central location for trading ships passing by.


PhD Funding

  • Commonwealth PhD Scholarship 2016/19 - Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) 
  • PhD Conference Fund 2018 - University of Westminster
  • Globally Engaged Research Scholarship 2017 - University of Westminster
  • 125 Fund Award 2017 - University of Westminster

Postgraduate Funding

  • Chevening Masters Scholarship 2013 - Foreign & Commonwealth Office



  • Cities of the Global South: Making Life "Liveable" on a Day-to-Day Basis - Development Studies Association (DSA), Manchester, 27 - 29 June 2018
  • Addressing the Legacy of Spatial and Social Fragmentation: A Comparative Case Study of Johannesburg and Cape Town - PhD Conference, University of Westminster, 7 February 2018
  • Cities of the Global South: Understanding the Role of Social (Un)Sustainability - Social Sciences History Association Conference, Montreal, 2 - 5 November 2017
  • Key Note Speaker - Young Planners and Graduate Conference, University of Johannesburg, 5 - 7 October 2015


  • African Cities in a Changing Development Context - African Research Institute, London, 20 June 2017
  • UKSSD Annual Conference - ICAEW Chartered Accountants' Hall, London, 1 March 2017


Higher Education

Visting Lecturer 2017/18 - University of Westminster, UK

Undergraduate Modules:

  • Dilemmas in International Development (4PIRS003W)
  • Introduction to International Relations and Global Politics (4PIRS005W)
  • Ethics and International Relations (6PIRS006W)


  • English Teacher 2017 - Bellnor International English Summer Camp, Estonia

Private Institution

  • Online English Teacher 2011 - EF Education, South Africa

Additional Information


  • MA in International Planning and Sustainable Development, Urban Resilience Pathway (RTPI Accredited) - University of Westminster, UK
  • Bachelor of Technology in Town and Regional Planning - University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  • National Diploma in Town and Regional Planning - University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Work Experience

I have over 5 years of work experience as a private planning consultant in South Africa, specialising in urban planning, policy and socio-economic research, development planning, survey and analysis and project management. I am a registered professional planner with the South African Council for Planners (SACPLAN). I also have extensive experience conducting research and experience teaching English.

Extracurricular Activities

In my spare time I started mentoring students in their last year of high school and in University, in my own capacity. More recently, I have been a voluntary mentor with the Commonwealth Alumni Mentoring Plan (CAMP). This involves the mentoring of new Commonwealth Scholarship awardees and prospective applicants to achieve both personal and professional goals. Mentoring takes place pre-award, on-award and post-award and can range from settling into life in the UK, adjusting to academic life and exploring further career options.

My extracurricular activities extend to my current appointment by the PhD Society as the Careers Officer. My aim is to work with existing University services to provide PhD students across all disciplines with career related information, arrange career seminars and panel discussions. Focusing on both career planning, development and career advice from alumni and other professionals.

Committee Positions:

  • Careers Officer - University of Glasgow PhD Society, Feb 2019 - Present
  • South African Representative for SAPI - Commonwealth Association for Planners (CAP) Young Planners Network Forum, Sep 2011 - Sep 2013
  • Student Board Member - South African Planning Institute Gauteng, May 2011 - Sep 2013
  • Secretary and Portfolio Member - Forum of Planning Students (FOPS) UJ, Sep 2011 - Dec 2012
  • Secretary - Zoo Babaies Preschool and Day Care NPO, July 2010 - July 2013