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Professor David Demeritt

Professor David Demeritt


Tel: +44 (0)20 7848 2622

Department of Geography
King's College London 

Office: Bush House North East Wing, Room 6.20 


David Demeritt is Professor of Geography, best known for his ability to bridge the discipline’s human-physical divide. He has extensive practical experience of senior university management, of incubating and leading multidisciplinary environmental research projects, and of successfully collaborating with partners in government, NGOs, and industry.

An American ex-pat, he did degrees in history (BA) and Quaternary science (MSc) at the University of Maine before moving into geography and completing his PhD at the University of British Columbia. After doing a post-doc on climate change policy with Environment Canada, he took up a geography lectureship at Bristol University before coming to King's in 1999.

David is currently one of the editors for Environment and Planning A and a member of the Peer Review Colleges for both NERC and the ESRC, having served a previous term on NERC's PRC (2007-10) and on the ESRC Grants Assessment Panel (2010-15). He also serves on the Steering Group for the Government's Natural Hazards Partnership and one Theme Advisory Group for the DEFRA/Environment Agency Flood & Coastal Erosion Risk Management R&D Programme.

Within King’s he has served as Head of Graduate Studies in SSPP and as the PI and first Director of the King's Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Centre (KISS-DTC).

My publications can be found on:

Research interests
  • flood risk management and climate change
  • risk communication, regulation and governance
  • environmental politics and policy

Technical expertise in the natural sciences makes me relatively unique among human geographers and enables me to bridge the gulf in the discipline between human and physical approaches to the environment.

My research and teaching cut across and connect three major areas of expertise:

Environmental politics and policy, especially the construction and management of environmental risks

Risk communication, regulation and governance, especially of natural hazards like flooding and climate change

Science studies and social theory, especially philosophy of science and understandings of risk and science.

A unifying theme of these cross-cutting areas of nature-society expertise is the articulation of environmental knowledges, especially scientific and technical ones, with power and the policy process.

I am currently working on four related research projects:


I have served as PI or Co-Investigator on 22 grants with a value of ~£2.8m.

The most recent of these include:

Yeung K, DEMERITT D (2017) Big data for better regulation or better regulation for big data? an exploratory analysis of algorithmic regulation in British government, £19,884, King’s Together Multi- and Interdisciplinary Seed Fund

DEMERITT D (2017-9) Animal husbandry, prescribing practices and the control of veterinary medicines and AMR in Colombia's 'livestock revolution', £202,140, Economic and Social Research Council (ES/P00475X/1)

DEMERITT D, Cooper T, Haigh J, Zenghelis D (2015) The Nexus in Parliament: Supporting parliamentary engagement with environmental and social interdependencies, £17,425 subaward from the Nexus Network, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

DEMERITT D, Malamud B (2013-17) SINATRA: Susceptibility of catchments to Intense Rainfall and flooding NERC £328,996

Escobar M, DEMERITT D (2012-15) Social Research Fellowship Supporting Animal Welfare Policy, £98,034 Department for Environment, Food, & Rural Affairs

ROTHSTEIN, H (PI); Demeritt, D (Co-I) (2013-16) How States Account for Failure in Europe (HowSAFE): Risk and the Limits of Governance Economic and Social Research Council - Open Research Area for the Social Sciences Programme, £386,110

DEMERITT D, Cloke H, He Y (2011-12) Improving the communication and use of ensemble flood predictions, £83,291 follow-on fund award Economic and Social Research Council (RES-189-25-0286)

DEMERITT D, Lofstedt R (2011-14) KULTURisk: Knowledge-based approach to develop a cULTUre of Risk prevention 247,000€ EU, CP-FP7-2010 Grant agreement No. 265280

Kuhlicke C, DEMERITT D (2011-12) Man-U:Managing uncertainties in flood risk and climate change assessment: An exploratory study 87.452€ EU, FP7-People-IEF-2009 Grant agreement No. 253773.

Pelling M, DEMERITT D (2009-2012) ‘SafeLand: Living with landslide risk in Europe: Assessment, effects of global change, and risk management strategies’, £160,000 EU, FP7 Grant agreement No. 226479

Harries T, DEMERITT D (2009-10) Understanding Householder Responses to Flood Risk, £80,062 postdoctoral fellowship Economic and Social Research Council

DEMERITT, D., Cloke H, Pappenberger F. (2008-2011) ‘Europeanizing Flood Forecasting and the Geographies of Risk and Science in the EU’, £340,716 large research grant Economic and Social Research Committee

PhD topics

David has successfully supervised more than 20 PhD students working on topics ranging from environmental regulation to science policy. In particular, work in the following areas would fit well with his current research commitments:

  • Flood risk and its management
  • Risk, trust and the politics of expert knowledge
  • risk regulation and governance

Prospective students interested in working in these areas should contact him directly sending a CV and precis of a research proposal.

PhD students

David has successfully supervised more than 20 PhD students working on topics ranging from environmental regulation to science policy. In particular, work in the following areas would fit well with his current research commitments:

  • Flood risk and its management
  • Risk, trust and the politics of expert knowledge
  • risk regulation and governance

Prospective students interested in working in these areas should contact him directly sending a CV and precis of a research proposal.




Briony Turner, FT (2011-) ‘Homes, Households and the Socio-technical Fabric: Putting Energy Transitions into Practice’ +3 ESRC studentship. Currently Knowledge Exchange Manager (ARCC Network) at UK Climate Impacts Programme

Maria Vinogradova, FT (2014- ) Understanding vulnerability and the epidemiology of flood fatalities in the UK, grant-tied NERC studentship, funded by the SINATRA project 


Ben Clifford, FT (2004-09), ‘Planning Under Pressure: Local Authority Planners, Public Participation, and Multi-Level Environmental Governance’, ESRC-ODPM Studentship. Currently lecturer in spatial planning & government, Bartlett School of Planning, UCL

Sarah Dyer, FT (2001-2005), ‘Applying Bioethics: Local Research Ethics Committees and Their Ethical Regulation of Medical Research’, funded by studentship awards from the University of London’s Triangle Trust and AHRC. Currently Senior Lecturer in Geography, Exeter University

Maria Escobar, FT (2005-10) ‘Pestering geography: zoo-ontological politics in Trafalgar Square’ Universities UK Overseas Research Studentship and SSPP Studentship. Currently postdoctoral research assistant, Department of Geography, King’s College London

Franklin Ginn, FT (2006-10) ‘Gardening in suburbia: nature, culture, memory’, King’s College London Annual Fund Studentship, awarded to the best candidate from the Arts & Science faculty. Currently lecturer in Geography, Bristol University.

Mathis Hampel, FT (2012-14 ) Climate reconstruction and the making of authoritative climate knowledge. Currently editor at Politheor: European Policy Network

Kerry Holden, FT (2005-10) ‘On being a scientist: narrating the institutional formation of scientific careers and biomedical science’, 1+3 ESRC CASE studentship. Currently a lecturer in geography at Queen Mary, University of London.

Kristian Krieger, FT (2007-10) ‘Rationalising Climate Adaptation: The Adoption of Risk-based Governance in Flood Management Regimes of Britain and Germany in the 1990s and 2000s ESRC research grant tied studentship. Currently civil servant European Commission

James Millington FT (2003-07) 'Modelling Land-Use/Cover Change and Wildfire Regimes in a Mediterranean Landscape' ESRC-NERC studentship. Currently lecturer, Department of Geography, King’s College London

Brandon Parkes, FT (2011-15) ‘Developing a Risk-based and Participatory Approach to Reducing the Uncertainty in Modelling Climate Impact on Flood Inundation’ NERC-ESRC studentship

Laurel Murray, FT (2008-14) ‘Canada in Changing Climate: The Construction of Climate Change and National Interest in a Federal System’

James Porter, FT (2005-09) ‘The extreme flood outline map: co-producing flood risk mapping and spatial planning in England’ ESRC +3 studentship. Currently a post-doctoral research fellow, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds

Krithika Srinivasan, FT (2008-12) ‘The biopolitics of environmentalism and animal protection: Turtle conservation and street dog welfare in contemporary India’ Commonwealth Scholarship.  Currently a lecturer in geography, University of Exeter.

Sam Tang, FT (2011-16) Organisational Cultures and Behaviours of Climate Change Policymaking, +3 ESRC studentship


Over my years at King's College London I have contributed to a wide range of courses at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, on topics ranging from the cultural politics of biotechnology to the history and philosophy of geography.

I am currently committed to contributing to the following courses:


  • 7SSG/5002 Practicing Social Research 1
  • 7SSG5165 Environmental Science and Policy making


  • 6SSG3061 Current Research in Geography
  • 6SSG3058 Environmental Risk, Governance and Society
Impact, innovation and outreach

Building on two ESRC funded projects on the development of European flood forecasting technologies and the communication and use of new kinds of ensemble flood prediction, Professor Demeritt and his colleagues have been working with a number of forecast providers, including the Environment Agency, the EA- Met Office Joint Flood Forecasting Centre, the UK Met Office’s National Severe Weather Warning Service and Public Weather Service Customer Group, the Meteorological Service of CanadaDeutscher Wetterdienst, European Commission’s Joint Research Centrethe European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, and the Hydrological Bureau of Anhui Province, China, among others, to improve the understanding, communication and use of probabilistic warnings of flooding and other severe weather events. This project was highlighted by the ESRC as a case study of ‘impactful’ research'.

Ongoing grants from NERC and the RCUK Global Uncertainties programme are supporting collaboration with the Government's Natural Hazard Partnership to develop a database of hazard impacts to underpin risk-based warnings of flooding and severe weather.

David also serves on the Defra-Environment Agency Flooding & Coastal Erosion Risk Management R&D Advisory Committee.

Professor Demeritt has also made a number media appearances, including:

  • Sky News (to discuss impacts of severe weather in the US and UK 03.01.14; 04.01.14)
  • Sky News (to discuss recent flooding in the UK 12.05.13)
  • CNN international (to discuss the Stern Review of the economics of climate change)
  • BBC London news (to discuss the Dept. Health’s Heat Wave advice)
  • Canadian Global National News (to compare EU-Canadian climate policy), and
  • BBC Radio 4 (Material World, 04.05.06, on communicating science advice; Questions, Questions, 10.26.06, on the social impacts of 1816 ‘the year without a summer’).

David is currently serving as an advisor to documentary film makers, Tin Can Island Productions, for a documentary about the history and geography of the Wild West with Ray Mears.

In addition, David provides background briefings for newspaper reporters on topics ranging from climate change, risk management, and science-based policy-making.


For a full list of publications, please see:


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