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More in this section Postgraduate research

Our doctoral students

Currently, we have around 70 PhD students and over 50 Masters students producing cutting-edge doctoral research and undertaking advanced research and training in the areas of Cultural Geography, Sustainability, ICT4D and Quaternary Science. A complete list of PhD research topics can be found here, and a selection of more detail doctoral profiles can been seen below.

Student Profiles (A-Z)

  • Hugh Crosfield: The bodywork of consumer boycott movements and the production of race; anti-Apartheid citrus (1972 – 92), and anti-slavery chocolate (2006-present).
  • Amy Cutler: Write off the map: cartographic practises and twentieth century British poetry.
  • Duncan Depledge: UK-Arctic network assemblage and the performance of policy.
  • Liz Haines: Losing Touch with the Ground: Surveying in Twentieth Century Colonial and Post-Colonial Territories.
  • Danny Mcnally: 'Place, Social Diversity and Relational Aesthetics: The Arts of Connection in East London'.

Hugh Crosfield

Hugh Crosfield

The bodywork of consumer boycott movements and the production of race; anti-Apartheid citrus (1972 – 92), and anti-slavery chocolate (2006-present)

Funder: Royal Holloway Thomas Holloway Scholarship


I'm a third year PhD student at the Royal Holloway Geography Department, funded by the Thomas Holloway Scholarship, with Professor Phil Crang and previously Dr David Lambert as my supervisors. I've been a part of the Geography Department here since 2004, when I arrived as an enthusiastic undergraduate with the aim to eventually work in development studies. Cultural and historical geography got me instead (although I'm still getting them!), and the wide range of human geography courses taught at both undergraduate and during the cultural geography MA, really caught my imagination. There are some fantastic geographers working here with a wide range of specialisms, many of whom I've been lucky enough to learn from at undergraduate and postgraduate level. The substantive research projects that I've conducted in the last few years are reflective of the rigour and diversity of the department. My BA dissertation thesis on the performance of femininity at the Glasgow Empire Exhibition of 1938 was awarded the national first prize by RGS Women and Geography Research Group for dissertations relating to gender in 2007, and my MA thesis on the contestaton of place and the performance of passion and suffering by charity fundraisers will be converted into a substative paper for Cultural Geographies.

My PhD research focuses on two consumer boycott/advocacy movements; Boycott Outspan Action (1972-94), an anti-apartheid and anti-racist organisation who had their headquarters in Holland and boycotted South African citrus, and Stop The Traffik (2006 to the present) who front a global anti-slavery chocolate campaign. I've spent much of the last two years arranging and recording interviews with boycott activists from the UK, South Africa, Holland and Sweden. I'm particularly interested in how through boycotting foods (oranges and chocolate), the two organisations contribute to everyday geographies of race and 'whiteness' in their differing historical and geopolitical contexts.

Amy Cutler

Amy Cutler

Write off the map: cartographic practises and twentieth century British poetry

Funder: AHRC Doctoral Studentship


My research background is in English literature and I’m in the third year of a PhD bringing ideas from cultural geography to bear on late 20th century British poetry. I look at the use of legal, economic, political and lyrical languages within the poetic text to assess the ways in which we inhabit space and the environmental philosophies at work. I therefore consider myself as coming from quite a strange angle, but it’s no secret that this is true of most people in the Landscape Surgery research group. I have found the openness of the Department absolutely invaluable, as well as the constant support for my ideas – I’ve been given two seminar slots to present the texts I research, and I’ve run a full day cross-disciplinary workshop as well as many conference panels with the support of departmental resources. I’ve collaborated on many projects with other PhD students, including getting together with a few others and completing a funded film in my first year, ‘Exploring London’s Olympic Waterscape’, which is now available on the British Library website.

I founded and am currently running a film society, Passengerfilms, which develops different areas of research in cultural geography into monthly public screenings and discussions, with guest curators from the Department.  We have just won a ‘Best Film Education Programme’ commendation from the British Federation of Film Societies for this project, and currently beginning collaboration with the Bartlett School of Architecture. At our regular Landscape Surgery meetings we update each other on our work and ongoing projects, and it has always felt very much as if everyone knows my work and what I am up to.

Duncan Depledge

Duncan Depledge

UK-Arctic network assemblage and the performance of policy

Funder: ESRC SE DTC Collaborative Doctoral Studentship (with Royal United Services Institute


The project is concerned with drivers of geopolitical change in the contemporary Arctic, and the implications for UK defence policy, maritime activity, energy security and scientific research. How the UK positions itself in relation to these changes is understood as a network effect; produced through negotiations between a plethora of actors (human and nonhuman, national and international) to ‘organise’ and ‘stabilise’ the UK’s relationship with the region (specifically, for the purposes of this project, Norway’s High North). The course of these negotiations will have implications for how the UK acts, produces and represents itself as an actor with a legitimate stake in the region’s future.

The project is a collaboration between the Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, and the Royal United Services Institute. The student is jointly supervised by Professor Klaus Dodds, Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, and Dr. Tobias Feakin, Director of National Security and Resilience at the Royal United Services Institute.

Liz Haines

Liz Haines

Losing Touch with the Ground: Surveying in Twentieth Century Colonial and Post-Colonial Territories

Funder: AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award (with the Science Museum)


The Science Museum in London holds a collection of early 20th century surveying technologies that represent the integration of aerial photography as an important new cartographic technique. I’m taking the instruments as the starting-point to examine surveying practices in British colonial Africa from the Survey of Nigeria (1912) to the Survey of Uganda (1957). With the PhD project I hope to sketch out how changes in technology reflected and generated wider institutional change, and shifted geographical understandings of Africa, within those territories and back in the UK. Taking the instruments as the focus prompts reflection about daily life in the field, and the full network of indigenous porters and technicians, tax officials, oil prospectors, scientists, anthropologists and de-mobbed bomber pilots who all had a stake in these processes. It enables us to examine the geographical resources that could be used by larger institutions such as the Colonial Office or the War Office in the formation of a ‘development’ discourse. It also provides insight into the implications of remote-sensing for geography as a discipline.

Working with the Museum allows me to use their expertise to consider how these surveying projects may have left not only written, but material traces of their activity. Uncovering, and linking a wide variety of archives with personal testimonies allows me to contribute to the Museum’s understanding of its own collection.

Danny Mcnally

Danny Mcnally

'Place, Social Diversity and Relational Aesthetics: The Arts of Connection in East London'

Funder: ESRC 1+3 Studentship


Having been out of formal education for a year before starting my postgraduate study in the Geography Department at Royal Holloway, I arrived with some anxieties and trepidations – should I have left a gap between studying?, should I have waited longer before delving back in?, will I be able to keep up?

After only a few weeks I knew I had made the right decision. The size of my immediate postgraduate crowd, the Social and Cultural Research Group, was initially daunting, but it didn't take long to realise how much this would benefit my learning. The postgraduate seminar group ‘Landscape Surgery’ has proved to be valuable in terms of keeping up with contemporary research and networking.

The staff in the Department have also played an important role in my experience. I remember one of the first things said to us during induction week was that we were seen more as colleagues than students, that we made the Department fresh, exciting and invigorating. A slightly daunting position to be put in, but this made us feel valued, and that we had something to offer. My experience of geography at Royal Holloway has been stimulating and rewarding and I am looking forward to the next three years with much anticipation.

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