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2011 Rural-Urban Classification for small area geographies

The 2011 rural-urban classification (RUC2011) for small area geographies provides a rural/urban view of datasets at output area (OA), super output area (SOA) and ward level.

RUC2011 is a revised version of the classification produced after the 2001 Census, but with additional detail in the urban domain. It was created by the Department of Town and Regional Planning at the University of Sheffield on behalf of a government working group.

Output Areas (OAs)

OAs are treated as ‘urban’ if they were allocated to a 2011 built-up area with a population of 10,000 or more.

The urban and rural domains are then sub-divided into six broad morphological types based on the predominant settlement component. The classification also categorises OAs based on context – i.e. whether the wider surrounding area of a given OA is sparsely populated or less sparsely populated. Details of the resulting classes can be found in the User Guide.

Super Output Areas (SOAs) and wards

RUC2011 is also available at lower and middle layer SOA (LSOA and MSOA) and ward level. For these geographies the classification is built from RUC2011 at OA level. Assignments of LSOAs, MSOAs and wards to urban or rural categories are made by reference to the category to which the majority of their constituent OAs are assigned.

At the SOA/ward scale settlement form is less homogenous than at OA level and so there are only five settlement categories. Details of the resulting classes can be found in the User Guide.


RUC2011 for OA, LSOA, MSOA and wards, together with user guidance and a methodology report, can be downloaded from ONS’s Open Geography portal.

2011 Rural-Urban Classification for higher level geographies

RUC2011 for higher level geographies is planned but is not currently available. In the meantime, users should use the existing rural-urban classification products



Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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