Dr Liam Saddington

  • College positions:
    External Director of Studies in Geography
  • University positions:
    Teaching Associate in Human Geography
  • Subjects: Geography


BA Geography (University of Oxford, St Catherine’s College); MSc Nature, Society and Environmental Governance (University of Oxford, St Cross College); DPhil Geography and the Environment (University of Oxford, St Catherine’s College).

Research interests

1) Climate Change, Geopolitics and Small Island States

Liam is a political and environmental geographer whose research focuses on the geopolitics of climate change concerning small island states and rising sea levels. His work explores how the relationship between territory and statehood is being reimagined in low-lying atolls in light of rising sea levels. It examines how space and time shape understandings of climate change and the implications for critical geopolitics, adaptation, and diplomacy.

Liam is interested in how different forms of knowledge are mobilised in controversies over the futures of atoll states. Specifically, he is interested in how vertical geopolitics and geographies of the ocean intersect in the construction of atoll states as “sinking islands” and resistance to this term. His DPhil (PhD) thesis was entitled “Rising Seas and Sinking Islands: The Geopolitics of Climate Change in Tuvalu and Kiribati”.

Liam’s ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship was entitled “Prefiguring the Future: Climate Adaptation and Youth Diplomacy in Tuvalu”. Building on his doctoral research, this project has two focuses. Firstly, on the role that land reclamation plays in climate change adaptation in low-lying atoll states and its broader geopolitics. Secondly, the role of youth and youthful bodies within Tuvaluan climate diplomacy.

His current research thinks about the changing role of the UK as an environmental actor in the South Pacific, in light of the “Pacific Uplift” that the UK has initiated as part of “Global Britain”. Drawing on archival materials, Liam is tracing how historical narratives of environmental degradation, population displacement and marginality in British colonies in the South Pacific influence contemporary climate discourses.

2) Simulations and Pedagogy in Political Geography

Since 2016, Liam has worked with Fiona McConnell (University of Oxford) on developing ‘Model UNPO’ teaching resources for primary and secondary schools. Supported by a University of Oxford’s Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund Award, they adapted the materials for work with diasporic communities. As part of this project, Liam has been part of the preparatory team organising a weeklong session at the Council of Europe entitled “Unrepresented Diplomats: A Study Session for European Minority Youth on Shrinking Civic Space, Political Participation and Freedom of Association”.

Within their research, Fiona and Liam are interested in bringing together literature on the geographies of education and learning with work in political geography on the nature of stateness to think about how the geographies of play can help young people to make sense of the contemporary political world.

Teaching Interests

Liam is the Course Coordinator for Part 1A ‘Methods in Human Geography Research’ and the Course Coordinator for Part 1B ‘Living with Global Change’. He also contributes to the Part 1A Skills and Methods Course. At a college level, Liam runs supervisions for Part 1A Paper 1: ‘People, Place and the Politics of Difference’.

 At a postgraduate level, Liam is the Assistant Deputy Director and Course Tutor for the ‘Anthropocene Studies’ MPhil. He contributes to teaching on the ‘Anthropocene Studies Module’, ‘Anthropocene Studies Seminar Series’ and the ‘Interdisciplinary Concepts Lecture Series’.

Previously, Liam has taught at the University of Oxford and Jesus College. This has included a variety of undergraduate courses including ‘Space, Place and Society’; ‘Environmental Geography’; ‘Geopolitics in the Margins’; ‘Human Geography’; and ‘Geographical Thought’. At a postgraduate level, Liam was the Departmental Lecturer Course Director for ‘Nature, Society and Environmental Governance’ MSc and has taught on the ‘Environmental Justice’ course.

Awards and prizes

  • Highly Commended in the University of Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment Impact Awards 2022 (2022)
  • “Engaging Minority Youth in Europe: Role-Playing ‘Model UNPO'”, Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund, University of Oxford, Co-Investigator (2021)
  • Phillip Fothergill Travel Award, St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford (May 2019)
  • Dudley Stamp Memorial Awards from the Royal Geographical Society with IBG (March 2018)
  • Wilfrid Knapp Scholar and Graduate Foundation Scholar at St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford (2017-2020)
  • Undergraduate dissertation highly commended by the Political Geography Research Group (2016)
  • Nature Society and Environmental Governance Scholarship, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford (2016-2017)
  • College Book Prize for Effort and Achievement of Research, St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford (2015)
  • Gardner Prize, St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford (2015)


Saddington, L., 2022. Climate goals on course to be missed, Oxford Analytica Daily Brief

Saddington, L., 2022, Climate risks on course to intensify globally, Oxford Analytica Daily Brief.

McConnell, F., and Saddington, L., 2021, Debating Global Governance: ‘Model UNPO’ role play. School resources hosted on RGS-IBG website.

Saddington, L., 2021, Pressure for drastic climate action to build post-COP, Oxford  Analytica Daily Brief.

Saddington, L., 2021, Report to boost climate action calls globally, Oxford Analytica Daily Brief.

Saddington, L., 2020, Book Review: If Everyone Returned, the Island Would Sink: Urbanisation and Migration in Vanuatu, Kirstie Petrou 2020, Berghan. Island Studies Journal,15(2),p.390-39

Other interests

Liam enjoys swimming, eating out and hiking.