Staff Profile


Dr Alexander Kent

Reader in Cartography and Geographic Information Science

School: School of Human and Life Sciences

Campus: Canterbury

Tel: 01227 922324

Profile summary

Alex is well known in the international and national academic cartographic communities, regularly giving keynotes, invited talks and lectures to a wide range of audiences. His expertise is centred upon cartographic design and his research focuses on the relationship between maps, landscape, and society.

He is the Immediate Past President of the British Cartographic Society, Chair of the ICA Commission on Topographic Mapping, Editor of The Cartographic Journal, and is a committee member of UK Cartography, the Charles Close Society, and the Society of Cartographers.  

Combining theoretical aspects of cartography with their practical application is a key characteristic of Alex's career.  Prior to joining the Department, Alex was Head of the Cartographic Unit at the University of Southampton and since graduating from Cambridge he has spent 17 years lecturing in the associated fields of cartography, GIS and remote sensing.

Within the University, Alex manages PhD recruitment for Geography and leads Geography's submission to the REF.

Research and knowledge exchange

Following a First Class Joint Honours degree in Cartography and Geography at Oxford Brookes University (1995-1998), Alex took an MPhil in GIS and Remote Sensing at Cambridge University (Queens' College, 1998-1999) and returned to Oxford to spend several years lecturing in these subjects while acting as a freelance geo-information consultant. Clients included HarperCollins (digitizing a new coastline for the UK), LeeCapelle (the design of an interactive atlas of world history for Key Stage 4 pupils), and Action Contre la Faim (the on-site implementation of GIS to assist with the relocation of migrant populations in Sri Lanka).

Alex's doctoral thesis 'An analysis of the cartographic language of European state topographical mapping: aesthetics, style, and identity' gained at the University of Kent (2004-2007) examined stylistic diversity in 1:50 000 topographic maps and provided an exploration of cartography as a visual language, influenced by aesthetics, power-relations and cultural conventions. More recently, his research has engaged with the post-socialist transition of 'Eastern' Europe, specifically Latvia, Poland, and Slovenia, and how national identity and ideological change are reflected in state cartography.  The availability of formerly secret Soviet mapping in Latvia in the early 1990s inspired research of these fascinating maps and the formation of a new national research group to address questions surrounding their creation and their legacy.

Teaching and subject expertise

Module Leader for Basic Cartography and GIS (Level 4); New Europe (Level 5); Introduction to Mapping & GIS (L5); and Advanced GIS & Remote Sensing (Level 6)

Co-teaches Space, Place and Politics (Level 6)

Programme Director for the Short Course in GIS

Director of GeoAcademy (an initiative to address the skills gap in UK geoinformation agencies)

External activities

Immediate Past President, The British Cartographic Society

Chair, World Cartographic Forum

Chair, ICA Commission on Topographic Mapping

UK National Representative to the ICA General Assembly (with Dr David Forrest, University of Glasgow)

Editor, 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.

Member, UK Cartography Committee

Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS)              

Fellow of the British Cartographic Society (FBCartS)

Committee Member, Charles Close Society

Committee Member, Society of Cartographers

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

Alex is also a Senior Research Associate of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies in his capacity as Cartographic Editor for 'An Atlas of the Social and Intellectual History of Islam in South Asia', a major research project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Leverhulme Trust|.

Publications and research outputs

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

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

Chilton, S. and Kent, A.J. (Eds) (2014) Cartography: A Reader: Celebrating 50 Years of the Society of Cartographers Reading: The Society of Cartographers

Field, K. and Kent, A.J. (Eds) (2014) Landmarks in Mapping: 50 Years of the Cartographic Journal Leeds: Maney Publishing

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

Kent, A.J. (2012) "From a dry statement of facts to a thing of beauty: Understanding aesthetics in the mapping and counter-mapping of place" Cartographic Perspectives 73, pp.39-60

Kent, A.J. (2010) "Helping Haiti: Some Reflections on Contributing to a Global Disaster Relief Effort" The Bulletin of the Society of Cartographers 44 (1,2) pp.39-45              

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              

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

Kent, A.J. (2008) "Cartographic Blandscapes and the New Noise: Finding the Good View in a Topographical Mashup" The Bulletin of the Society of Cartographers 42 (1,2) pp.29-37

Kent, A.J. (2005) "Aesthetics: A Lost Cause in Cartographic Theory?" The Cartographic Journal 42 (2) pp.182-8


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