Helen Durham

Helen Durham


I am an Associate Professor in Geographical Information Science and Education and Co-Director of Student Education in the School of Geography.

My teaching focus is at taught postgraduate level where I deliver modules introducing students to the skills and application of Geographical Information Systems/Science. My main scholarship interests are in the pedagogy of online distance learning (ODL) and the student experience during transition and induction. My research interests are in the application of Geographical Information Science in quantitative human geography and environmental analysis.

Former leadership roles:

  • I was Programme Leader of an Online Distance Learning programme in Geographical Information Systems in the School of Geography from 2010 to 2023. This was a collaborative programme with the University of Southampton; 
  • From January 2020 to December 2022 I was Academic Lead for Online Education, responsible for the academic leadership of the strategy to grow the University’s portfolio of online education. In partnership with the Digital Education Service I supported the growth of fully online degrees and accredited, professional and non-accredited short online courses; 
  • I was Digital Education Academic Lead for the Faculty of Environment from 2019 to 2020, with responsibility for delivering Faculty priorities for digital, online and blended learning in alignment with the University strategy.
  • From 2014 – 2018 I was the Academic Integrity Lead in the School of Geography


  • Co-Director of Student Education (School of Geography)
  • Chair of Educational Excellence in Environment (EdExE)

Research interests

Spatial distribution of Conscientious Objectors in WW1

Ongoing research with University of Leeds Honorary Research Fellow, Cyril Pearce.  Drawing on the Pearce Register of British Conscientious Objectors, this compilation of data on approximately 20,000 individuals located in their 'home' area provides an insight into the spatial distribution of dissent in wartime Britain, 1914-1918.


  •  Pearce, C 2020. Communities of Resistance: Conscience and Dissent in Britain during the First World War. Maps by Helen Durham London: Francis Boutle, pp556.‚Äč
  •  Pearce, C. and Durham, H. (2015) Patterns of Dissent in Britain during the First World War. War & Society, 34:2, 140-159, DOI: 10.1179/0729247314Z.00000000052 


The aim of the ReVISIONS project was to provide the knowledge and evidence base for public agencies and private companies to plan regional spatial development together with infrastructure for transport, water, waste and energy (ranging from large capital schemes to small scale decentralised services), in a more coordinated and integrated way so as to reduce impacts on the environment and resources, improve economic competitiveness, and allow households to live more sustainably, with a socially inclusive and enhanced quality of life.

It explored the inter-relationships between infrastructure policies and plans at the regional and local scales and explored the tensions and interactions that exist across these scales, and between sectors. In doing so it explored pathways to reorient the city-region from its ‘linear’ input-use-dispose metabolism, to a more efficient circular or ‘ecological’ metabolism.

DIALOG-PLUS: Digital Libraries in the Classroom

This project combined the efforts of geographers, education specialists, and computer scientists at the University of Leeds, the University of Southampton, Pennsylvania State University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. It was funded jointly by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United Kingdom Joint Information System Committee (JISC) as part of their Digital Libraries in the Classroom initiative.The emphasis in this project was the development of innovative and collaborative learning material in the form of reusable digital learning nuggets.

CHCC: Developing the collection of historical and contemporary census data and materials into a major learning and teaching resource

This was a JISC-funded project which ran from 2000 until 2003.The central aim of the project was to increase use of the CHCC in learning and teaching by:

  • Improving accessibility to the primary data resources
  • Developing an integrated set of learning and teaching materials
  • Improving awareness about the contexts in which Census data can be used in learning and teaching
  • Integrating contextual materials
  • Providing access to web-based data exploration/visualisation tools
  • Developing resource discovery tools via a Census portal

Internal migration and population dynamics in europe

The research project “Internal migration and population change in Europe” started in 1996 under a grant provided by the Council of Europe and the European Commission. The project was extended and subsequently funded by the ESRC. The project aimed to compare inter-regional migration and population dynamics for small spatial units in 20 selected European countries. My role was to provide the cartographic expertise and analytical skills, using MapInfo and ArcInfo GIS software, for the project’s investigation into rural depopulation, the processes of urbanisation, suburbanisation and counterurbanisation and the analysis of changing migration patterns over the last decades. I was responsible for the creation and management of a population database and a cartographic database of administrative boundaries in Europe, extracting derived statistics from the database, assisting with the preparation of inputs to statistical modelling, maintaining the cartographic database and preparing all maps and cartographic analysis for the project and for publication.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • MSc, Geographical Information Systems, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • BSc (Joint Hons), Surveying Science and Mathematics, Newcastle University

Professional memberships

  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)

Student education

I am an Associate Professor in Geographical Information Science and Education and Co-Director of Student Education in the School of Geography.  My teaching focus is at taught postgraduate level where I deliver modules introducing students to the skills and application of Geographical Information Systems/Science.


Research groups and institutes

  • Institute for Spatial Data Science