Staff Profile


Dr Alex Kent

Reader in Cartography and Geographic Information Science

School: School of Psychology and Life Sciences

Campus: Canterbury Main Campus

Tel: 01227 922324

Profile summary

I joined the University as Senior Lecturer in Geography and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) before taking up my current role as Reader in Cartography and Geographic Information Science. My teaching incorporates a range of subjects across human geography and visual communication, including critical geopolitics and cultural geography, with a particular specialism in mapping (i.e., GIS, remote sensing, cartographic design and its history). My research explores the relationship between maps, landscape, and society, with publications including The Red Atlas (University of Chicago Press), The Routledge Handbook of Mapping and Cartography, and over 100 book chapters and papers. I am also currently Editor-in-Chief of The Cartographic Journal (Taylor & Francis; IF 1.311). 

After graduating with a taught MPhil from Cambridge University (Queens' College) in GIS and Remote Sensing, I returned to Oxford Brookes University as a Lecturer in GIS and consulted on various geospatial projects in the UK and Sri Lanka before gaining my doctorate from the University of Kent. I joined the University of Southampton as Head of the Cartographic Unit in the School of Geography until my appointment at CCCU in 2010.

I am also a Senior Research Associate at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (University of Oxford) as Cartographic Editor for An Atlas of the Social and Intellectual History of Islam (OUP, New York), a major international research project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Leverhulme Trust.

I play an active role in leading national and international societies (e.g., as President of the British Cartographic Society, Founder and Chair of the World Cartographic Forum, and the ICA Commission on Topographic Mapping) and serve on the committees of UK Cartography and the Charles Close Society. I am also a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (FSA), the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS) and the British Cartographic Society (FBCartS). 

Research and knowledge exchange

My interdisciplinary research explores the relationship between maps and culture, and incorporates insights from aesthetics, geopolitics, and social anthropology. I have a particular interest in topographic mapping, especially in how aesthetics and identity shape indigenous cartographic language (or, the human geography of why maps look different!). I am currently co-leading a project with UNESCO to enhance the sustainable management of designated sites through traditional and non-traditional approaches to mapping.

I regularly present my research at national and international conferences, giving keynotes, invited talks and lectures to a wide range of audiences. My research informs my teaching, and I have served as a Visiting Lecturer at several overseas institutions, including Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland), the University of Malta, and the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Current research projects include:

a) Exploring the use of traditional and non-traditional mapping to enhance UNESCO site management and stakeholder engagement, with the UK and Canadian Commissions for UNESCO;

b) Establishing the scope and context of the Soviet military mapping programme, as described in The Red Atlas (2017) - the world's first comprehensive guide;

c) Understanding military geospatial capabilities since the Cold War, for workshops at the Centre for the Changing Character of War (University of Oxford);

c) Establishing cartographic design principles for the development of VR/AR, with experimental research at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland;

e) Exploring the role of maps in shaping visitor experiences to Gedenkstätte (memorial sites in Germany), with the University of Bath; and

f) Investigating political identity and state cartography in the post-socialist transition of 'Eastern' Europe.

My current PhD students are Ian Byrne (design of road maps) and Ali Norton (identity of castles in SW England). My former PhD students include Graham Earl (dune hydrology) and Martin Davis (Soviet military city plans). I am also an External PhD Examiner for RMIT, Australia. 

Teaching and subject expertise

I am the Programme Director for the Faculty's MSc by Research and the MPhil/PhD subject lead for Geography.

Within Geography, I am the Module Leader for Basic Cartography and GIS (Level 4); Europe: Culture, Identity and Landscape (L5); Geographical Information Science and Visualisation (L5); Geopolitics (L6); and GIS and Remote Sensing for Environmental Management (L6). I co-teach various other modules, such as the Field Investigation in Geography (L5) and Exploring Critical Human Geographies (L6).

I also teach sessions on mapping dark places for the MSc in Tourism and Event Management and on GIS and data visualization for the Graduate College Researcher Development Programme (RDP).

I am the Programme Director for the Short Course in GIS and the Director of GeoAcademy (an initiative to address the skills gap in UK geoinformation agencies).

External activities

Chair, World Cartographic Forum

Chair, UK Cartography Committee

Chair, ICA Commission on Topographic Mapping

Past President, British Cartographic Society

UK National Representative to the ICA General Assembly 

Editor-in-Chief, The Cartographic Journal (UK)     

Editorial Board Member, Geoinformation Issues (Institute of Geodesy and Cartography, Warsaw, Poland)

Peer reviewer for several academic journals, including Environment & Planning A and the ISPRS Journal.

Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (FSA)

Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS)              

Fellow of the British Cartographic Society (FBCartS)

Committee Member, Charles Close Society

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), 2020

Society Award (fifth recipient), for an outstanding contribution to the Society of Cartographers, 2015

Henry Johns Award (with Prof. Peter Vujakovic), for most outstanding article in The Cartographic Journal, 2010

National Geographic Award, for excellence in cartographic scholarship, 2007

Publications and research outputs


Kent, A.J. and Specht, D. (Eds) (in press, 2022) The Routledge Handbook of Geospatial Technologies and Society Abingdon: Routledge.

Davis, M. and Kent, A.J. (2021) "An Analysis of the Global Symbology of Soviet Military City Plans" The Cartographic Journal DOI: 10.1080/00087041.2021.1958193.

Halik, L. and Kent, A.J. (2021) "Measuring User Preferences and Behaviour in a Topographic Immersive Virtual Environment (TopoIVE) of 2D and 3D Urban Topographic Data" International Journal of Digital Earth 14 (12) pp.1835-1867 DOI: 10.1080/17538947.2021.1984595.

Kent, A.J. (2021) "The Soviet Military 1:10,000 City Plan of Dover, UK (1974)" International Journal of Cartography 7 (2) pp.245-251 DOI: 10.1080/23729333.2021.1910185.

Pastor, D. and Kent, A.J. (2020) "Transformative Landscapes: Liminality and Visitors’ Emotional Experiences at German Memorial Sites" Tourism Geographies 22 (2) pp.250-272 DOI: 10.1080/14616688.2020.1725617.

Kent, A.J., Vervust, S., Demhardt, I.J. and Millea, N. (Eds) (2020) Mapping Empires: Colonial Cartographies of Land and Sea Cham: Springer Nature.

Kent, A.J. (2018) "Form Follows Feedback: Rethinking Cartographic Communication" Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture13 (2) pp.96–112 DOI: 10.16997/wpcc.296.

Davies, J. and Kent, A.J. (2017) The Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kent, A.J. and Vujakovic, P. (Eds) (2017) The Routledge Handbook of Mapping and Cartography Abingdon: Routledge.

Kent, A.J. and Davies, J.M. (2013) "Hot Geospatial Intelligence from a Cold War: The Soviet Military Mapping of Towns and Cities" Cartography and Geographic Information Science 40 (3) pp.248-253 DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2013.799734.

Kent, A.J. and Vujakovic, P. (2009) "Stylistic Diversity in European State 1:50 000 Topographic Maps" The Cartographic Journal 46 (3) pp.179-213 DOI: 10.1179/000870409X12488753453453.    

Kent, A.J. (2009) "Topographic Maps: Methodological Approaches for Analyzing Cartographic Style" Journal of Map and Geography Libraries 5 (2) pp.131-156 DOI: 10.1080/15420350903001187.

Kent, A.J. (2005) "Aesthetics: A Lost Cause in Cartographic Theory?" The Cartographic Journal 42 (2) pp.182-188 DOI: 10.1179/000870405X61487.


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Last edited: 05/12/2017 03:57:00