Middleton, Dr Nick


Nick Middleton

Stipendiary Lecturer in Geography and Supernumerary Fellow

Academic background

BA, MA, DPhil (Oxon)


Undergraduate: Nick teaches the Earth Systems Processes paper and parts of the Geographical Controversies and Geographical Techniques papers for Prelims (1st years). In the 2nd and 3rd years, students taking the Earth Systems Dynamics and Environmental Geography papers will be taught by Nick, who also tutors parts of the paper on Geographical Thought. He also supervises some undergraduate dissertations.

Research interests

Nick is originally a physical geographer but his interests now span the entire subject. His main area of research is in the nature and human use of deserts and their margins, work that has taken him to the Sahara, Gobi, Atacama, Chihuahuan, Namib, Thar, Danakil and Kalahari deserts. Desertification, land degradation, drought and dust storms are topics of particular focus – their causes, impacts and how societies cope with and adapt to them, and mitigate their impacts. He has worked and advised on these issues as a consultant to several United Nations bodies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Nick Middleton also works, teaches and communicates on a wide variety of environmental issues, writes popular articles and books on geographical themes – including seven travelogues – and has presented three series of television documentaries on extreme environments and the people who live in them. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages and his television programmes broadcast all over the world (needless to say, they are also available on YouTube).

Recent Publications

Selected Books/Major Reports

The Global Casino: An Introduction to Environmental Issues. 7th edition. Routledge. 2024

Sand and Dust Storms – A Guide to Mitigation, Adaptation, Policy and Risk Management Measures in Agriculture. FAO. 2023

An Atlas of Countries That Don’t Exist. Macmillan. 2015

Rivers: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. 2012

The Forgotten Billion: MDG Achievement in the Drylands. UNDP-UNCCD (with L. Stringer, A. Goudie and D. Thomas). 2011

Deserts: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. 2009

Desert Dust in the Global System. Springer. (with A.S. Goudie). 2006

Extremes along the Silk Road: Adventures off the World’s Oldest Superhighway. John Murray. 2005

Surviving Extremes: Ice, Jungle, Sand and Swamp. Channel 4 Books. 2003

Going to Extremes: Mud, Sweat and Frozen Tears. MacMillan. 2001

Ice Tea and Elvis: A Saunter through the Southern States. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 1999

Intellectual Property Rights: a battleground for trade and biodiversity? IUCN. 1999

World Atlas of Desertification 2nd edition. UNEP and Arnold. (with D.S.G.Thomas). 1997

Travels as a Brussels Scout. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 1997

Desertification: Exploding the Myth. J. Wiley. (with D.S.G.Thomas). 1994

Kalashnikovs and Zombie Cucumbers: Travels in Mozambique. Sinclair-Stevenson. 1994

The Last Disco in Outer Mongolia. Sinclair-Stevenson. 1992

Desertification. Oxford University Press. 1991

The Nature of Botswana. IUCN special publication. 1990

Atlas of Environmental Issues. Oxford University Press. 1988