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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Academic Staff  /  James Cheshire

Dr James Cheshire

Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Human Geography


Room 105
Pearson Building
Department of Geography
University College London


Tel: +44 (0) 207 6790513




James completed a BSc (1st Class Hons.) in Physical Geography at the University of Southampton before undertaking a PhD in GIScience at the UCL Department of Geography. His topic was the spatial analysis and visualisation of large surname databases. After completing his PhD he was appointed Lecturer in Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualisation at CASA. He is a Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Human Geography at the UCL Department of Geography and a Deputy Director of the Consumer Data Research Centre.

Aside from his academic outputs, a wide range of his maps and visualisations have been featured in the popular print press (such as the National Geographic and the Guardian) as well as online. He enjoys blogging both for and


Books and Book Chapters

2014   London: The Information Capital. Penguin. (J A Cheshire, O Uberti)

2013   GIS Ostrava – Geoinformatics for City Transformations. (Editors: I Ivan, P Longley, J Horák, D Fitsch, J A Cheshire, T Inspektor).

2014   Spatial Visualization With R. In Geocomputation: A Primer. Sage. (J A Cheshire)

2013     CyberGIS for Analysing Urban Data. In CyberGIS: Fostering a New Wave of Geospatial Discovery and Innovation (eds. Wang, S and Goodchild, M). (J A Cheshire, M Batty, J Reades, P A Longley, E Manley, R Milton)

Refereed Publications

2014   Invited Review: Surnames and Spatial Analysis. Journal of Anthropological Sciences 92: 99-117 (J Cheshire)

2014   Inequalities in the London Bicycle Sharing System revisited: impacts of extending the scheme to poorer areas but then doubling prices. Submitted to   the Journal of Transport Geography (forthcoming). (A Goodman, J Cheshire)

2014   Health Effects of the London Bicycle Sharing System: health impact modeling study. British Medical Journal 348:g425. (J. Woodcock, J Cheshire, O O’Brien, M. Taino, A. Goodman).

2013   Mining Bicycle Sharing Data for Generating Insights into Sustainable Transport Systems. Journal of Transport Geography 34: 262-273. (O O’Brien, J A Cheshire, M Batty). doi: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2013.06.007

2013   Japanese Surname Regions. Papers in Regional Science. (J A Cheshire, P A Longley, K Yano, T Nagoya). doi: 10.1111/pirs.12002

2012    The Surname Space of the Czech Republic. PloS One (J Novotny, J A Cheshire).

2012   Featured Image: Lives on the Line. Environment and Planning A. 44(7) 1525-1528 (J A Cheshire).

2012   The family name as socio-cultural feature and genetic metaphor: from concepts to methods, Human Biology 84(2) 169-214 (P Darlu et al.).

2012   Identifying Spatial Concentrations of Surnames, International Journal of GIS 26 (2) 309-325. (J A Cheshire, P A Longley).

2012   People of the British Isles: Preliminary Analysis of Genotypes and Surnames in a UK Control Population, European Journal of Human Genetics 20(2) 203-10. (B Winney et al.)

2011   Delineating Europe's Cultural Regions: Population Structure and Surname Clustering. Human Biology 83(5):573-598. (J A Cheshire, P Mateos, P A Longley).

2011   Spatial concentrations of surnames in Great Britain. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. 21 279 – 286. (J A Cheshire, P A Longley)

2010   Creating a Regional Geography of Britain through the Spatial Analysis of Surnames, Geoforum 42(4) 506-516. (P A Longley, J A Cheshire, P Mateos).

2009   The Surname Regions of Great Britain, Journal of Maps, 401-409. 10.4113/jom.2010.1103. (J A Cheshire, P A Longley, A D Singleton).

Editorials and Peer-Reviewed Conference Proceedings

2012   Editorial: Visualisation Tools for Understanding Big Data. Environment and Planning B 39 (3) 313-315 (J A Cheshire, M Batty).

2011   Editorial: Cities as flows, cities of flows. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 38(2) 195 – 196. (M Batty, J A Cheshire).

2014   Inferring population structure from surname geography: the role of GIScience in interpreting genetic information. Proceedings of GIScience 2014. (J Kandt, J A Cheshire, P A Longley).

2013   Revealing and Informing Transport Behaviour from Bicycle Sharing Systems. Proceedings of GIS Research UK 2013. GISRUK 2013. Liverpool. (J A Cheshire, O O’Brien).

2012   Openshaw’s Geocomputation and the Geodemographics of Family Names. Proceedings of GIS Research UK 2012. GISRUK 2012. Lancaster. (P A Longley, J A Cheshire).

2011   The Use of Consensus Clustering in Geodemographics. Proceedings of GIS Research UK 2011. GISRUK 2011. Portsmouth. (J A Cheshire, M Adnan, C Gale).

2010   Regionalisation and Clustering of Large Spatially-Referenced Population Datasets: the Case of Surnames. In Purves, R. and Weibel, R. (eds.) Proceedings of GIScience 2010 available from (J A Cheshire, P A Longley, P Mateos)

2010   Establishing Spatial Concentrations of Surnames Using Kernel Density Estimation. In De Felice, S. et al. (eds.) Proceedings of the GIScience 2010 Doctoral Colloquium. IFGI Print Series, Heidelberg, Germany. (J A Cheshire)

2010   Informing Population Genetics Through Spatial Analysis of Surnames. In Haklay, M. et al. (eds.) Proceedings of GIS Research UK 2010. GISRUK 2010. UCL, London. (J A Cheshire, P A Longley, P Mateos)

2010   Surnames as Indicators of Cultural and Linguistic Regions in Europe. In Haklay, M. et al. (eds.) Proceedings of GIS Research UK 2010. GISRUK 2010. UCL, London. (J A Cheshire, P A Longley, P Mateos)

2009   Surnames as Indicators of Cultural Regions in the UK. In Fairbairn, F. et al. (eds.) Proceedings of GIS Research UK 2009. GISRUK 2009. University of Durham, Durham. (J A Cheshire, P Mateos, P A Longley)

2009   Combining Historic Interpretations of the Great Britain Population with Contemporary Spatial Analysis: The Case of Surnames. In Proceedings of the IEEE Geospatial Computing Workshop December 2009. (J A Cheshire)


James' current research focus is the use of "big" and open datasets for the study of social science - a project funded by the ESRC Future Research Leaders Scheme. James is also a co-investigator in two of ESRC's "Big Data Network" initiatives - the Consumer Data Research Centre and the Administrative Data Research Centre. In addition, he is involved in a number of projects that relate to the increased use of quantitative data in the social sciences. James has published in a range of journals on a variety of topics including the use of cycle hire schemes, the spatial analysis of surnames and new ways to visualise population data.


Principal Investigator

Big, Open Data: Mining and Synthesis (ESRC Future Research Leaders, £300k)

Adaptive Networks for Complex Transport Systems. (EPSRC Additional Sponsorship via UCL Sandpit, £15k)


Retail Business Datasafe – part of the Consumer Data Research Centre (ESRC £6.1 million)

Administrative Data Research Centre (ESRC £11.5 million, £2 million to UCL)


James’ personal blog attracts 100,000 visits a year with many utilising his tutorials on the use of the R statistics package for mapping and visualisation. In addition, a key deliverable from his ESRC Future Research Leaders grant was the creation of the website with the project’s RA Oliver O’Brien. This is regarded as an innovator in the visualisation and provision of 2011 Census data and was cited as exemplar in the Royal Statistical Society’s Data Manifesto. It is used throughout the public, private and charity sectors for data insights as well as by schools and universities as an educational resource.

James’ visual outputs have been regularly featured in the mainstream print and online media. His latest book London: The Information Capital is considered an exemplar for the mapping and visualisation of open data to better understand city life.

James has completed a range of data collection, analysis and visualization projects most recently for the likes of Nike Fuelband, Financial Times Magazine and Gort Scott Architects.


Between 2011-2013 James wrote and convened Geographic Information Systems and Science module (30 hours in across the autumn term) that forms a core part of the Masters in Research (MRes) offered by the UCL CASA. He was CASA's Department Graduate Tutor and has completed a Professional Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher and Professional Education at the Institute of Education.

He is now developing a range of undergraduate teaching resources and modules as part of his role as a Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Human Geography affiliated to UCL's Q-Step Centre.

James also runs a number of graduate-level and professional skills workshops for the use of quantitative methods in research and data visualisation.


Primary Supervisor:

2014 – Alyson Lloyd. Title TBC. Funded via UCL ESRC DTC

2014 – Nilufer Sari Aslam. Title TBC. Funded via UCL ESRC DTC

2012– Faisal Umar. Mapping Crime in Nigeria. Funded by Nigerian government. (Upgraded, expected completion Autumn 2015).

Secondary Supervisor:

2013 - Hrishi Ballal Developing the UrbanFlow Engine. Funded by ERC Mechanicity Project. (Upgraded, expected completion 2015).

2013 - Alistair Leak Understanding social groupings and intent from digital traces. Funded by DSTL (expected completion 2015/16).

2012 - Stephan Hugel iCity Project. UCL CASE Award with the GLA. (Upgraded, expected completion Autumn 2015).

2010 - Christopher Gale “Creating a New UK Output Area Classification” (Completed 2014).