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Dr Philip J Nicholson

Dr Philip J Nicholson

Research Fellow




I am a human geographer and artist working on creative geovisualisation. My work seeks to unpack the aesthetics of geospatial media via creative practice, play, experimentation, and narrative.

I received my PhD in Human Geography from the University of Glasgow in 2018. Since then I have worked on a set of projects focused on human environment relations and environmental change to develop creative geovisualisation as a method of working collaboratively and creatively to map social and environmental data sets.

I joined the University of Exeter as a research fellow in June 2020. I am currently working on an ESRC funded covid-19 response project investigating the impact of COVID-19 on the UK waste sector.

Research Specialisms

  • Creative Geovisualisation,
  • Critical GIS
  • Digital Geographies
  • Participatory Methods
  • Creative Geographies


  • PhD Human Geography 2018 (University of Glasgow)
  • MA Creative Practice for Narrative Environments 2012 (Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London)
  • BA (Hons) Contemporary Fine Art 2008 (Sheffield Hallam University)


Research group links


Research interests

My work on Creative Geovisualisation is informed by my PhD which was concerned with unpacking the past, current and future of GIS from an arts and humanities perspective, and in particular how the body becomes a repository, or archive, of embodied practices associated with a particular set of technologies. I am also trained as an artist, and the most significant, and unique, element of my PhD project was the deployment of my creative practice as a tool of enquiry. Methodologically, my research is built on observations of and dialogues with GIS practitioners from academia and business; the data I collect becomes part of a practice-led geovisualisation process often comprising of videos works, performances, collages, circuit bending experiments, and so on that pull-apart and unpack the ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘where’ of GIS.

I am especially interested in the dense power relations within which geospatial technologies are deployed in post-independence and post-colonial contexts, and how communities can, and are allowed to, engage with such technologies and the data they produce, and create new forms of resilience.

Research projects

COVID-19 Waste Project

2020-21 Co-I 'Waste management during the COVID-19 outbreak: investigating a critical sector in crisis'. ESRC, as part of UKRI Rapid Response to COVID-19 (£271K). PI: Angeliki Balayannis; Co-Is: Steve Hinchliffe (Exeter), Toni Gladding (OU), Thom Davies (Nottingham), Emma Garnett (KCL).

Previous Projects

2013-2018 ‘Snap, Pan, Zoom, Click, Grab and the Embodied Archive of Geographic Information Systems ‘ Full AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award Studentship (£56,000)

Research networks

Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers)

External Engagement and Impact

External positions

GeoViolence Group

Editorial Assistant GeoHumanities Journal


Supervision / Group

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