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Dr. Samuel Randalls

Samuel-Randalls.jpgDepartment of Geography
University College London
Gower Street

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 7575
Fax: +44 (0)20 7679 7565

Room G14, 26 Bedford Way




Associate Professor in Geography, UCL

Lecturer in Human Geography, UCL

James Martin Fellow, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

PhD, University of Birmingham (“Firms, finance and the weather: the UK weather derivatives market”)

MSc Research in Human Geography, University of Birmingham

BA Geography, University of Birmingham

Click here for Publications.

My research focuses on the historical, contemporary and future relationships between environments, businesses/economics and science, with a particular focus on weather and climate. I draw from literatures in geography and science and technology studies.

I am currently involved in research on the following topics:

  • A historical study of weather insurance in the UK (with James Kneale) from the mid nineteenth to the early twentieth century. This is focused on hail insurance in England from the 1840s-1880s (with reference to agricultural and business history) and life insurance for people travelling overseas (with reference to medical and climatological expertise, including the 'geographical climatologies' of insurance pricing).

Previous research includes:

  • A history of important approaches within climate policy in the 1980s and 1990s, tracing the emergence of climate stabilization as a scientific and economic concept (with Max Boykoff and Dave Frame), the development of the 2degrees temperature target and the influence of economic ideas in shaping policy.
  • Studies of key ideas/terms about the future through comparative explorations of their deployment in different fields e.g. on precaution and preemption in terrorism and climate change (with Marieke de Goede) and the multiple sites of resilience (with Stephanie Simon)
  • A study of the underwater logging industry examining the emergence and development of the businesses with consideration of the economic, ecological and social implications (with Gill Petrokofsky). This research was funded by a Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Small Research Grant.
  • Explorations of weather and economy, in particular the commercialisation of meteorology, histories of industrial meteorology and, in my doctoral research, a sociology of weather derivatives markets, where contracts are traded on weather indices. This explored the implications for both business attitudes to weather and climate risks as well as questions about the public-private division of meteorology.


I welcome enquiries from potential graduate students who are interested in researching similar topics. I would be particularly interested in supervising projects on:

1) Histories of meteorology and climatology related sciences particularly non-Anglophone and less well-studied arenas (e.g. corporate science, sciences from the global 'South', biometeorology, climate economics etc)

2) Historical studies of weather-related forms of insurance and commercial meteorology

3) Studies of commercialized sciences and natures

4) Cultural studies of weather-society

5) Human geographies of nature conservation/restoration

My work has been referenced in blogs and other web-media on climate change policy, in particular with regard to the 2 degrees temperature target. Through this research, I have argued (with Max Boykoff and Dave Frame) that global mean temperature stabilization targets are a poorly conceived way of developing global climate policy because they expose society to risks through the uncertainties about climate sensitivity. Nevertheless they have been central to climate negotiations because they are politically appealing and aid economic analysis.

My MSc module on the 'Politics of Climate Change' ( encourages students to understand why people and organizations disagree about climate change. It explores the different ways we frame the problem and recommend solutions to it, drawing out their basis in our views of the efficacy of economics, politics, behavioural change and ethics (to name a few areas). This provides a valuable tool to understanding the conflicts that might arise when discussing climate change and other environmental issues in practice both in life and in future careers. I have given talks as part of extension lectures for Bonas MacFarlane Education and at student-organized events.

Primary Teaching Responsibilities


GEOG0015 Global Events

GEOG0022 Environment and Society

GEOG0062 Urban Political Ecology (convenor) for 22-23

GEOG0165 Governing human uses of protected areas


GEOG0083 Politics of Climate Change (convener)

GEOG0093 Conservation and Environmental Management (convener)

I also guest lecture on the 'Climate Change and Health' (CIHD) module.


Current PhD students:

Sarah Fischel (1st supervisor, with Lewis Daly)

Robert Petitpas (1st supervisor, with Seth Gustafson)


Completed PhD students:

Jin-ho Chung (2nd supervisor, with Ben Page)

Hannah Fair (1st supervisor, with Ben Page)

Andrew Papworth (1st supervisor, with Mark Maslin)

Sara Peres (with Brian Balmer, STS)