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

Dr James Cheshire

Associate Professor in Quantitative Human Geography, Director UCL Q-Step Centre, Deputy Director ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre
James CheshireRoom 105 
North-West Wing 
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 before moving to the UCL Department of Geography where he a Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Human Geography. James is also Deputy Director of both the ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre and the UCL Q-Step Centre.

His research focuses on the use of “big” and open datasets for the study of social science. He 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. James is the recipient of a number of major awards from the Royal Geographical Society, The North American Cartographic Information Society and British Cartographic Society. He is President of the Society of Cartographers.

Aside from his academic outputs, a wide range of his maps and visualisations have been featured in the popular press.  Read more at or follow @spatialanalysis on Twitter.

Prizes and Awards

1. North American Cartographic Information Society’s Corlis Benefidio Award (2018) that recognises “a body of work and the perspective it brings to the field of cartography, and the contributions it makes to the world as a whole.”

2. Awarded the Royal Geographical Society’s Cuthbert Peek Award (2017) “for advancing geographical knowledge through the use of mappable Big Data”.

3. The British Cartographic Society Award (2017): One of the most prestigious awards for recognising cartographic excellence. Entrants are drawn from leading publishers, world mapping agencies and academics. The award recognised the pioneering mapping and visualisation contained in the book entitled Where the Animals Go.

4. The J C Bartholomew Award for Thematic Mapping. (2017)

5. Winner London Book Fair Innovation in Travel Publishing Prize. (2017): A major prize recognising “the world’s best travel writing”.

6. The British Cartographic Society Award. (2015): One of the most prestigious awards for recognising cartographic excellence. Entrants are drawn from leading publishers, world mapping agencies and academics. The award recognised the pioneering mapping and visualisation contained in the book entitled London: The Information Capital. It is the first publication to secure multiple honours from the British Cartographic Society.

7. The Stanford’s Award for Printed Mapping. (2015)


Major Centre Grants

Awarded as part of Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the ESRC “Big Data Network” (, these mark significant strategic investments around which many other initiatives are based.

1. ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre. £6,117,620 (February 2014 to Feburary 2019). Co-I, 30% FTE, 5 years (with PI P Longley and Co-Is A Singleton, J Cheshire, J Reynolds, T Cheng, S Mikhaylov). As Deputy Director of the centre, I have significant line management responsibilities for 3 postdoctoral researchers, in addition to oversight of key aspects of the secure data infrastructure on which the project depends.

2. ESRC Administrative Data Research Centre. £11,550,200. (October 2013 – September 2018) Co-I, 5% FTE, 5 years (project leads are P Smith, D Martin and R Gilbert). This is a major investment led by the University of Southampton with collaborators at UCL, Office for National Statistics and the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Other Grants – Principal Investigator

1. Development frontiers in crime, livelihoods and urban poverty in Nigeria (FCLP). £261,819 (January 2018-December 2019). 20% FTE 1 year. ESRC/ DfID Development Frontiers Award. Response to a call to “fund innovative, strategic and catalytic research with the potential to radically impact on sustainable development concepts or practices, or lead to new thinking and action on poverty reduction”.

2. Big, Open Data: Mining and Synthesis. £243,145 (October 2013 – March 2016). 50% FTE 2.5 years. ESRC Future Research Leaders Award. A hugely competitive call to “enable outstanding early-career social scientists…to acquire the skills set to become the future world leaders in their field.”

3. Adaptive Networks for Complex Transport Systems. £15,000 (January 2012 - March 2012). EPSRC Additional Sponsorship. (Co-I F Medda).

Other Grants – Co-Investigator

1. The analysis of names from the 2011 Census of Population. £136,504 (March 2015 - February 2016). 5% FTE 11 months. ESRC Secondary Data Initiative. (PI P Longley and Co-Is J Cheshire, A Singleton).

2. Cities for Human Locomotion. £6000 (July 2013 - September 2013). UCL Grand Challenges. (PI S Marshall with Co-Is N Tyler, J Cheshire, C Holloway).

Books and Book Chapters

1. Longley, P., Cheshire J. & Singleton, A. (Eds.) (2018). Consumer Data Research. UCL Press.

2. Lloyd, A., Cheshire, J. & Squires, M. (2018). The Provenance of Customer Loyalty Card Data. In Longley, P., Cheshire J. & Singleton, A. (2018). Consumer Data Research. UCL Press.

3. O’Brien, O. & Cheshire (2018). Geovisualisation of Consumer Data. In Longley, P., Cheshire J. & Singleton, A. (2018). Consumer Data Research. UCL Press.

4. Longley, P. & Cheshire, J. (2018). Geographical Information Systems. In Kent, A. & Vujakovic, P. The Routledge Handbook of Mapping and Cartography. Routledge.

5. O’Brien, O. & Cheshire J. (2017). Mapping Travel to Work Flows. In Stillwell, J. (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Census Resources, Methods and Applications. Routledge.

6. Umar, F. Johnson, S. & Cheshire, J. (2018). Testing theories of Social Disorganization in Nigeria. In Weisburd, D. & Johnson, S. (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Criminology. Oxford University Press.

7. Cheshire, J. & Uberti, O. 2016. Where the Animals Go. Particular Books (UK) & WW Norton (USA).

Translations: Die Wege der Tiere (Carl Hanser, Germany), Atlas De La Vie Sauvage (Les Arénes, France).

8. Cheshire, J. A., & Lovelace, R. (2015). Spatial Data Visualisation with R. In C. Brunsdon, & S. Singleton (Eds.), Geocomputation: A Practical Primer. SAGE.

9. Cheshire, J. & Uberti, O. (2014). London: The Information Capital. Particular Books.

10. Ivan, I., Longley, P., Horãk, J., Fritsch, D., Cheshire, J. & Inspektor, T. (Eds.). (2013). Geoinformatics for City Transformations. Institute of Geomatics, Ostrava.

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

Journal Articles

1. Lloyd, A. & Cheshire J. (2018). Detecting Address Uncertainty in Loyalty Card Data. Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy. doi: 10.1007/s12061-018-9250-1

2. Lloyd, A. & Cheshire, J. (2017). Deriving retail centre locations and catchments from geo-tagged Twitter data. Computers Environment and Urban Systems, 61, A: 108-118. doi: j.compenvurbsys.2016.09.006

3. Kandt, J., Cheshire, J. & Longley, P. (2016). Regional Surnames and genetic structure in Great Britain. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers,  41, 4: 554-569, doi: 10.1111/tran.12131

4. O'Brien, O., & Cheshire, J. (2015). Interactive mapping for large, open demographic data sets using familiar geographical features. Journal of Maps, 1-8. doi:10.1080/17445647.2015.1060183

5. Goodman, A., & Cheshire, J. (2014). Inequalities in the London bicycle sharing system revisited: impacts of extending the scheme to poorer areas but then doubling prices. Journal of Transport Geography, 41, 272-279. doi:10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2014.04.004

6. Woodcock, J., Tainio, M., Cheshire, J., O'Brien, O., & Goodman, A. (2014). Health effects of the London bicycle sharing system: health impact modelling study. BMJ, 348(feb13 1), g425. doi:10.1136/bmj.g425

7. Cheshire, J. A. (2014). Analysing Surnames as Geographic Data. Journal of Anthropological Science, 92, 99-117.

8. O’Brien, O., Cheshire, J., & Batty, M. (2014). Mining bicycle sharing data for generating insights into sustainable transport systems. Journal of Transport Geography, 34, 262-273. doi:10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2013.06.007

9. Cheshire, J. A., Longley, P. A., Yano, K., & Nakaya, T. (2013). Japanese surname regions. Papers in Regional Science, 93(3), 539-555.  doi:10.1111/pirs.12002

10. Novotny, J., & Cheshire, J. A. (2012). The Surname Space of the Czech Republic: Examining Population Structure by Network Analysis of Spatial Co-Occurrence of Surnames. PLoS ONE, 7(10). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048568

11. Darlu, P., Bloothooft, G., Boattini, A., Brouwer, L., Brouwer, M., Brunet, G., Manni, F. (2012). The Family Name as Socio-Cultural Feature and Genetic Metaphor: From Concepts to Methods. Human Biology, 84(2), 169-214. doi: 10.3378/027.084.0205

12. Cheshire, J. (2012). Lives on the Line: Mapping Life Expectancy Along the London Tube Network. Environment and Planning A, 44(7), 1525-1528. doi:10.1068/a45341

13. Cheshire, J. A., & Longley, P. A. (2012). Identifying Spatial Concentrations of Surnames. International Journal of Geographic Information Science, 26, 309-325. doi:10.1080/13658816.2011.591291

14. Cheshire, J., & Batty, M. (2012). Visualisation Tools for Understanding Big Data. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 39(3), 413-415.

15. Cheshire, J., Mateos, P., & Longley, P. A. (2011). Delineating Europe's Cultural Regions: Population Structure and Surname Clustering. Human Biology, 83(5), 573-598. doi:10.3378/027.083.0501

16. Winney, B., Boumertit, A., Day, T., Davison, D., Echeta, C., Evseeva, I., . . . Bodmer, W. (2011). People of the British Isles: preliminary analysis of genotypes and surnames in a UK-control population. European Journal of Human Genetics (20), 203-210. doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2011.127

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

18. Longley, P. A., Cheshire, J. A., & Mateos, P. (2011). Creating a regional geography of Britain through the spatial analysis of surnames. Geoforum 42(4), 506-516. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2011.02.001

19. Cheshire, J., & Longley, P. (2011). Spatial concentrations of surnames in Great Britain. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 21(0), 279-286. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.07.047

20. Cheshire, J. A. (2010). The Surname Regions of Great Britain. Journal of maps, 401. doi: 10.4113/jom.2010.1103


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 widely featured in the mainstream print and online media and he is regularly asked to deliver talks, training and analysis in the commercial sector.

Current Teaching

1. GEOG2025: Geocomputation. Convenor (Undergraduate).

2. Q-Step Data visualisation short course. Convenor (Undergraduate).

3. GEOG1003: Data Acquisition and Interpretation. Convenor (Undergraduate).

4. POLS6024: Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods. Co- Convenor (Undergraduate).

5. POLS6025: Introduction to Data Analysis. Co- Convenor (Undergraduate).

PhD Students

Current PhD Students

1. Terje Trasberg. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. Primary Supervisor (2017-)

2. Markus Löning. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. Secondary Supervisor. (2017-)

3. Balamurugan Soundararaj. Funded by Economic and Social Research Council. Primary Supervisor. (2016 -)

4. Alyson Lloyd. Funded by Economic and Social Research Council. Primary Supervisor. (2015- )

5. Nilufer Sari Aslam. Funded by Economic and Social Research Council. Secondary Supervisor. (2015- )

6. Karlo Lugomer. Funded by Economic and Social Research Council. Secondary Supervisor. (2016 -)

7. Timothy Rains. Funded by Economic and Social Research Council. Secondary Supervisor. (2015- )

8. Guy Lansley. Part time staff funding. Secondary Supervisor. (2014- , part time)

9. Stephan Hugel. Funded via UCL CASE Award with the Greater London Authority. Secondary Supervisor. (2012- )

Completed PhD Students

1. Alistair Leak. Funded by Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. Secondary Supervisor (2013- 2017). Now Postdoctoral Researcher at UCL.

2. Faisal Umar. Funded by Nigerian Government. Primary Supervisor (2012- 2016). Now lecturer at Abu Zaria University, Nigeria.

3. Christopher Gale. Funded by Economic and Social Research Council and Office for National Statistics. Secondary Supervisor (2010-2014). Now a postgraduate researcher at the University of Southampton.

4. Hrishi Ballal. Funded by the European Research Council Mechanicity Project. Secondary Supervisor (2013-2015). Now running a successful company specialising in geodesign software (the topic of his PhD).