Professor Tim Schwanen

Director of the Transport Studies Unit
Professor of Transport Geography
Research Fellow at St Anne's College, Oxford


Tim is Director of the Transport Studies Unit, Professor of Transport Geography in the School of Geography and the Environment, and also a Supernumerary Fellow at St Anne's College. He joined the Transport Studies Unit (TSU) in March 2009 and became Director in September 2015.

Tim is one of the editors of Environment and Planning F: Philosophy, Theory, Models, Methods and Practice, the youngest addition to the E&P family, and he serves on the editorial advisory boards of five journals focused on transport and mobility. Since September 2021 he has been a Fellow of the Academy for Social Sciences, the UK's national academy for academics, learned societies and practitioners in the social sciences.

Tim obtained his PhD from the Department of Human Geography and Planning of Utrecht University, The Netherlands in 2003 (cum laude), after which he worked as a post-doctoral researcher and Lecturer in Urban Geography at the same university. Tim joined the University of Oxford in March 2009, first as a Research Fellow at the TSU and later as Departmental Lecturer in Transport Studies and Human Geography. He has fulfilled the TSU Director role since September 2015 and was the Fellow in Geography at St Anne's College in 2015-2021. 

Tim was a Visiting Professor in Human Geography at the School of Business, Economics and Law of the University of Gothenburg in 2016-2019, and held a Francqui Chair at the Faculty of Sciences in Ghent University in 2022.

Tim is a member of the SoGE Technological Life: Environments, Bodies, Mobilities research cluster.

Current Research

Tim's research concentrates on the geographies of the everyday mobilities of people, goods and information. It is international in outlook, interdisciplinary in scope, informed by the thinking in various sub-disciplines within Geography, and organised around five more general concerns:

  • Rapid change and just low-carbon transformations in urban mobilities - technological innovation, digitisation, urbanisation, governance, behaviour change, different forms of justice;
  • Social and spatial inequality - in relation to actual and potential mobilities, urban informalities, and the health implications of mobility;
  • Governance of change in transport, including the changing roles and capabilities of different government actors, private businesses, NGOs and citizens;
  • Well-being - conceptualisations, politics, and relationships with mobility and place;
  • Philosophy of transport and mobility - history of thought and praxis, new concepts and modes of thinking.


Tim’s position is focused on research and administration. He gives only a few lectures per year in the Final Honour School (FHS) in Geography, as well as the Nature, Society and Environmental Governance (NSEG) MSc programme.

He teaches on all the short courses of TSU's 'Global Challenges in Transport' professional education programme.

Current Graduate Research Students

Maryam AltafGendered Mobilities and Platform-based Transport Services in Lahore, Pakistan
Xiang Ao/敖翔Linking 'place thinking' and 'flow thinking' on the urban system: Evidence from China
Ho-Yin (Tommy) ChanTowards resilient cities, communities and individuals: Cutting across the top-down-bottom-up dichotomy through citizen initiatives in everyday transport practices and planning
Michael DavisFrom Transit Oriented Development to People Oriented Development: a Fresh Look at Medium Sized Cities in Latin America
Gaurav DubeyPolitical economy of low carbon mobility transitions - the case of electric mobility in India
Wenbo GuoMobility, subjective well-being and health in transitional China: towards socially sustainable cities
Yi Fan LiuDisaggregating the BlueSG assemblage: Examining the productions and negotiations of user (im)mobilities and agency in Singapore's electric vehicle sharing service
Helen MorrisseyData and governance in South Africa's paratransit industry
Clive ParkinsonAutomobility as 'Dispositif' in Contemporary China
Camila RamosTransport-related social exclusion: A study on minimum standards and thresholds through the lens of accessibility
Nina TengExamining Trust in Shared Mobility: The Case of On-Demand Peer-to-Peer Ridesharing in Southeast Asia
Shiv YucelImproving Extreme Heat Resilience: Measuring Inequalities in Access to Relief
Zhaoqi (Eric) ZhouUnderstanding cycling infrastructure and practice in Shenzhen, China

Recent Graduate Research Students

Ignacio Perez 
Completed DPhil in 2023
Examining the role of data in smart city management: following the transport data dispositif in Santiago de Chile
Paola Castaneda 
Completed DPhil in 2022
How is the bike made mobile? Learning from bicycle advocacy in Latin America
Eric (Tak Hin) Chan 
Completed DPhil in 2020
The role of built environment and travel behaviour in influencing people's well-being - A case study of Shenzhen
Heuishilja Chang 
Completed DPhil in 2018
The resilience of shrinking communities in rural Japan: Can the Cittaslow approach be a possible development strategy?
Anna Davidson 
Completed DPhil in 2018
Moblizing bodies: unsettling sustainable mobility through cycling in Los Angeles
Rafael Pereira 
Completed DPhil in 2018
Distributive justice and transportation equity: inequality in accessibility in Rio de Janeiro
Thomas Ashfold 
Completed DPhil in 2016
Work, Time and Rhythm: Investigating contemporary ‘time squeeze’


Tim regularly gives key notes and invited talks at conferences and departments, including the 27th International Conference of the Hong Kong Society for Transportation Studies in December 2023 in Hong Kong.

He was the editor-in-chief of Journal of Transport Geography in 2013-2015 and currently serves on the editorial advisory boards of academic journals: Applied Mobilities, Journal of Transport Geography, Transportation, Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, and Travel Behaviour and Society.

Tim is one of the Fellows of the KiM Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis.


Hopkins, D., Schwanen, T., 2023. Sociotechnical expectations of vehicle automation in the UK trucking sector. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 196, 122863.

Schwanen, T., 2023. Towards a different mode of abstraction: the diorama in Hägerstrand’s experimentation in thought. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 114(3), 219-226.

Rekhviashvili, L., Kębłowski, W., Sopranzetti, C., Schwanen, T., 2022. Informalities in urban transport: mobilities at the heart of contestations over (in)formalisation processes. Geoforum 136, 225-231

Schwanen, T., 2021. Achieving just transitions to low-carbon urban mobility. Nature Energy 6, 685-687.

Schwanen, T., 2019. Transport geography, climate change and space: opportunity for new thinking. Journal of Transport Geography 81, 102530.

See Google Scholar for full overview of publications