Dr Tom Roberts

Dr Tom Roberts


2015    PhD (Geography) - University of Bristol

2011    MSc (Human Geography: Society & Space) - University of Bristol

2008    BA Hons (Geography) - University of Oxford

UNSW Canberra
School of Science

Scholarships of AUD$35,000 are available for PhD students who achieved H1 /High Distinction in their UG program and/or have completed a Masters by Research. If you are interested, please contact me at thomas.roberts@adfa.edu.au.

Tom is a cultural geographer based in the School of Science at UNSW Canberra. He joined UNSW Canberra as a Research Associate in 2017 and was promoted to Lecturer in July 2020. Tom read geography as an undergraduate at the University of Oxford, before completing an MSc and PhD at the University of Bristol. Tom has held previous posts as a Research Assistant and Senior Tutor at the University of Melbourne.

Tom's research develops new ways of thinking about the human that are more sensitive to the novel forms of material agency emerging in our increasingly technologically-mediated environments. His work contributes to a number of cutting-edge conceptual debates in cultural geography, including:

  • More-than-human geography (e.g., post-humanism, new materialism)
  • Relational frameworks in contemporary social science (e.g., assemblage theory, process philosophy)
  • Non-anthropocentric theories of subjectivity (e.g., post-phenomenology, affect theory)
  • Non-representational research methodologies (e.g., material ethnographies, experimental writing practices)


Tom's work is currently focused on three interrelated research agendas:

1. Questioning the human

Social science research is often based on unacknowledged assumptions about what it means to be human, many of which are outdated, rigid and philosophically suspect. Drawing on cultural geography's rich tradition of thinking critically about 'the human', Tom's research explores and develops approaches to social science that are no longer based on human exceptionalism. This agenda includes work on Spinoza's Ethics, published in the interdisciplinary journal GeoHumanities, as well as engagements with the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, published in Progress in Human Geography and Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers

2. Conceptualizing material agency

The second aspect of Tom's research investigates the nonhuman dimensions of social and cultural life through a focus on material agency. Inspired by recent developments in new materialist theory and science and technology studies, Tom's research develops vocabularies that seek to amplify forms of material agency that are often overlooked in contemporary accounts of social and cultural processes. Tom's work in this area includes an experimental ethnographic engagement with the vibrant matter of an IKEA superstore, published in Environment and Planning A; a philosophically-speculative analysis of smart materials and their application in architectural design contexts, published in Environment and Planning D: Society & Space; and a conceptual analysis of assemblage thinking, published in Area

3. Understanding the social and cultural implications of technological change

Technological change and its impact on the human is an area of particular interest in Tom's research. He has undertaken research on the cultural implications of 3D-printing technologies, published in cultural geographies journal. Tom is also the originator and course convenor of a masters course entitled Understanding Socio-technical Systems: Ideas, Spaces & Cultures, and is currently involved in an interdisciplinary research project investigating how trust is negotiated by everyday users of AI technologies. 


+61 2 5114 5028
Room 336, Science North (Building 22) School of Science, UNSW Canberra, Campbell ACT 2600, Australia.
  • Book Chapters | 2018
    Roberts T, 2018, 'Guattari's incorporeal materialism: from individuation to aesthetics (and back again)', in Jellis T; Gerlach J; Dewsbury JD (ed.), Why Guattari? a Liberation of Politics, Cartography and Ecology, Routledge
  • Journal articles | 2024
    Hosseini Shoabjareh A; Ghasri M; Roberts T; Lapworth A; Dobos N; Boshuijzen-van Burken C, 2024, 'The role of trust and distrust in technology usage: An in-depth investigation of traffic information apps usage for mandatory and non-mandatory trips', Travel Behaviour and Society, 37, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tbs.2024.100816
    Journal articles | 2024
    Roberts T, 2024, 'Matter, affect, life: A Whiteheadian intervention into ‘more-than-human’ geographies', Dialogues in Human Geography, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/20438206241255446
    Journal articles | 2023
    Gerlach J; Debaise D; Wiame A; Roberts T; Lapworth A; Dewsbury JD; Colebrook C; Williams N; Keating TP, 2023, 'Correction: Geophilosophy round table (Subjectivity, (2023), 30, 1, (91-106), 10.1057/s41286-023-00150-1)', Subjectivity, 30, pp. 112, http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/s41286-023-00158-7
    Journal articles | 2023
    Gerlach J; Debaise D; Wiame A; Roberts T; Lapworth A; Dewsbury JD; Colebrook C; Williams N; Keating TP, 2023, 'Geophilosophy round table', Subjectivity, 30, pp. 91 - 106, http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/s41286-023-00150-1
    Journal articles | 2022
    Roberts T; Lapworth A; Dewsbury JD, 2022, 'From ‘world’ to ‘earth’: non-phenomenological subjectivity in Deleuze and Guattari's geophilosophy', Subjectivity, 15, pp. 135 - 151, http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/s41286-022-00135-6
    Journal articles | 2021
    Roberts T; Dewsbury JD, 2021, 'Vital aspirations for geography in an era of negativity: Valuing life differently with Deleuze', Progress in Human Geography, 45, pp. 1512 - 1530, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0309132521996462
    Journal articles | 2021
    Roberts T, 2021, 'A constructivism of desire: Conceptualising the politics of assemblage with Deleuze and Guattari', Area, 53, pp. 691 - 698, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/area.12735
    Journal articles | 2021
    Roberts T, 2021, 'Glitterworlds: The Future Politics of a Ubiquitous Thing', CULTURAL GEOGRAPHIES, 28, pp. 430 - 431, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1474474020956264
    Journal articles | 2019
    Roberts T, 2019, 'In Pursuit of Necessary Joys: Deleuze, Spinoza, and the Ethics of Becoming Active', Geohumanities, 5, pp. 124 - 138, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2373566X.2019.1575762
    Journal articles | 2019
    Roberts T, 2019, 'Resituating post-phenomenological geographies: Deleuze, relations and the limits of objects', Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 44, pp. 542 - 554, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tran.12280
    Journal articles | 2019
    Roberts T, 2019, 'Writing', Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 44, pp. 644 - 646, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tran.12323
    Journal articles | 2019
    Williams N; Patchett M; Lapworth A; Roberts T; Keating T, 2019, 'Practising post-humanism in geographical research', Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 44, pp. 637 - 643, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tran.12322
    Journal articles | 2017
    Roberts T, 2017, 'Thinking technology for the Anthropocene: Encountering 3D printing through the philosophy of Gilbert Simondon', Cultural Geographies, 24, pp. 539 - 554, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1474474017704204
    Journal articles | 2014
    Roberts T, 2014, 'From things to events: Whitehead and the materiality of process', Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 32, pp. 968 - 983, http://dx.doi.org/10.1068/d13195p
    Journal articles | 2012
    Roberts T, 2012, 'From 'new materialism' to 'machinic assemblage': Agency and affect in IKEA', Environment and Planning A, 44, pp. 2512 - 2529, http://dx.doi.org/10.1068/a44692
  • Theses / Dissertations | 2016
    Roberts TM, 2016, Life beyond bounds: experiments in transcendental empiricism, University of Bristol, http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.687682

2022       Exploring Trust with Artificial Intelligence (UNSW Canberra AI Seed Fund) - M. Ghasrikhouzani, C. Boshuijzen van Burken, N. Dobos, B. Turnbull, A. Lapworth & T. Roberts

2019     Promoting High Quality Research Papers Scheme (2 papers awarded)

2019     Science at the Shine Dome (supported early-mid career researcher)

My Research Supervision

"Re-thinking the materiality of colour through the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze" - Eugenia Carlota De La Herran Iriarte (joint supervisor)

"Assemblages, power, and sovereignty in new materialist geopolitics: Transboundary rivers in the borderlands of postcolonial South Asia" - Raj Kaithwar (secondary supervisor)

My Teaching


ZPEM1201 - Human Geography 1A (Course Lecturer)

ZPEM2211 - Special Topic in Geography 2: Human Geographies of Environmental Change (Course Convenor)

ZPEM3208 - Geographic Research Methods (Course Lecturer)


ZPEM8310 - Understanding Socio-Technical Systems (Course Convenor)