Staff Profile


Dr Alexander Kent

Reader in Cartography and Geographic Information Science

School: Sports Sciences, Tourism, Hospitality and Events

Campus: Canterbury

Tel: 01227 922324

Profile summary

I joined the University in 2010 as Senior Lecturer in Geography and GIS and was promoted to Reader in Cartography and Geographic Information Science in 2015. My teaching expertise incorporates GIS, remote sensing, cartographic history and design, critical geopolitics and European regional geography. My research explores the relationship between maps, landscape, and society and my recent publications include The Red Atlas (University of Chicago Press) and The Routledge Handbook of Mapping and Cartography, as well as over 50 articles and papers in international journals. 

I chair the Geography Research Group (GRG) and am the UoA Coordinator for Geography's submission to REF2021.

After graduating with an MPhil from Cambridge University (Queens' College), I returned to Oxford Brookes University as a Lecturer (2000-2005) and consulted on various geospatial projects in the UK and Sri Lanka before gaining my doctorate (2004-2007) 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.

I am 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 enjoy taking an active role in the leadership of national and international societies (e.g. as President of the British Cartographic Society and as Founder and Chair of the World Cartographic Forum and of the ICA Commission on Topographic Mapping) and serve on the committees of UK Cartography, the Society of Cartographers and the Charles Close Society. I am Editor of The Cartographic Journal (the peer-reviewed periodical of the BCS) and a Fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS) and the British Cartographic Society (FBCartS). 

Research and knowledge exchange

My interdisciplinary research explores the relationship between cartography, landscape and society and incorporates aspects of tourism research (mapping dark places) and social anthropology (indigenous mapping). I have a particular interest in topographic mapping, especially in how aesthetics and identity play a role in the construction of indigenous cartographic language (or, the human geography of why maps look different!).

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 on various geography and cartography programmes at overseas institutions, including Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland), the University of Malta and the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Current research projects include:

a) "Finding Eanswythe: The Life and Afterlife of an Anglo-Saxon Saint", which involves cartographic research to identify an ancient watercourse in Folkestone and the digital reconstruction of past landscapes (Heritage Lottery Fund);

b) The availability of formerly secret Soviet mapping in Latvia in the early 1990s inspired research into these fascinating maps and the co-authorship (with John Davies) of The Red Atlas (University of Chicago Press, 2017) - the world's first comprehensive guide to Soviet mapping;

c) The role of maps in shaping visitor experiences to Gedenkstätte, particularly concentration camps in Germany, with Doreen Pastor (University of Bristol); and

d) How national identity and ideological change are reflected in state cartography, particularly in the post-socialist transition of 'Eastern' Europe.

My PhD thesis (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.

Current PhD research students are: Martin Davis (analysis of Soviet military city plans) and Ian Byrne (design and evolution of promotional road maps). I am an External PhD Examiner for RMIT, Australia.

Teaching and subject expertise

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

I co-teach Space, Place and Politics (Level 6)

I also teach sessions on mapping dark places for the MSc in Tourism and Event Management and on data visualization on the MSc by Research in Social and Applied Sciences.

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

Immediate Past President, 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

Publications and research outputs


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

Davis, M. and Kent, A.J. (2017) “Improving User Access to Soviet Military Mapping: Current Issues in Libraries and Collections Around the Globe” Journal of Map and Geography Libraries 13 (2) pp.246–260

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

Kent, A.J. (2016) “Political Cartography: From Bertin to Brexit” (editorial) The Cartographic Journal, 53 (3) pp.199–201

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. (2013) "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