Where the students live...

Applicant Discovery Day

Computer Mapping

Welcome to the computer mapping session!!! In the next few minutes, you will go on a whirlwind tour that will allow you to discover the city of Liverpool using spatial data.
In the process, you will get to play with some of the most exciting technology to make maps.

Move through the notes by navigating the arrows.

Let's start!!!

Population density

  • Spatial data are displayed in ‘layers’ – each layer displays a different variable for Liverpool
  • At the minute, population density is the only visible layer on the map
  • Population density takes the number of people who live in each area and divides it by the size of the area (km2 in our case)
  • The map is coloured based on these values, with lighter values representing greater density
  • Which areas of Liverpool have the highest population density? Why might this be?


Let's peel off the population density layer. Tick off the checkbox next to its name on the map legend.

Welcome to the "Output Area Classification" (OAC), a product of our very own Professor Alex Singleton. The OAC is a neighborhood classification.

Neighbourhood classifications are data-driven descriptions of places. Using large amounts of quantitative information, we are able to draw this empirical portraits of the character of an area.

Explore the classifications

Zoom into different areas and click on areas to find out what category they belong to.

For a description of each group, flick the slide next!

OAC groups (pt. I)

  • Hard pressed living: Typically found in urban areas, residents are less diverse (mostly White). Occupations are dominated by manual labour opportunities.
  • Constrained city dwellers: Neighbourhoods are characterised by social housing and residents tend to be older on average (with a lower proportion of children in the area). Unemployment rates are higher than other groups, with educational levels lower.
  • Urbanites: Residents tend to be employed in financial, public administration and education-related roles. Main urban areas, with a mix of terraces and flats.
  • Suburbanites: Areas located on the outskirts of urban areas. Characterised by semi-detached houses. Residents are a mixture of young families and retired individuals, and are above average in terms of incomes.

OAC groups (pt. II)

  • Cosmopolitans: Densely populated, these areas are dominated by privately rented flats and younger populations (particularly students and young professionals)
  • Multicultural metropolitans: Terraced housing dominates these areas. There is a high ethnic mix, and most other characteristics are at national average (less distinct then!)
  • Ethnicity central: Higher concentrations of non-White populations. Typically younger, renting accommodation and higher unemployment.
  • Rural residents: Rural areas with an older and affluent population (there are none of these in Liverpool – a truly urban city!)
OAC goes beyond Liverpool to include the entire country. Right click on this link, open in new tab, and enter your own postcode - does the description of the neighborhood describe your perception of the place well?

Student population

Let's peel off the OAC layer. Click on the 'tick' of the `liverpool_oac` layer and it'll disappear from the map, uncovering a map of every building in Liverpool.

Try and find:

  • Anfield (clue: Look North towards Stanley park)
  • Albert Docks (clue: Follow the River Mersey until you get to the city centre)
  • Liverpool John Lennon airport (clue: Try South Liverpool)

You may have noticed on the right hand side some sliders. These show graphs that allow you to further explore the population of Liverpool. Use them to filter the data presented on the map based on these values. Try clicking on ‘percentage of students’ and dragging the bars to select only the highest percentage values. This will update the map (it will take a moment while it works its magic) to show only those areas with the highest percentages of students.

Try to find an answer for the following questions:

  • which area contains the highest number of students in Liverpool?
  • Where are the two main areas which students live in Liverpool? Why might students be attracted to these areas?
  • How does the spatial distribution of students relate to patterns in population density?
  • You may have noticed that all buildings are coloured in including Anfield – but no students live in the stadium (and some keen fans have tried), why might this be? (clue: think back to the population density map – where might the building values come from?)


Combine the OAC layer with the population sliders to answer the following:

  • Which type of neighborhoods do students live in?
  • How are these areas different from the rest of Liverpool

Well done on completing the short practical! We hope that we have given you a little flavour of what we do here in Liverpool, although this is only the basics – we will show you not only how to make maps like this, but how to analyse and understand them.

Please do use any remaining time to ask us any question you may have about our degree or the city itself!