Professor Carys Swanwick BA BSc

Emeritus Professor


My academic education was in biology and ecological conservation. On graduation I joined Land Use Consultants (LUC), the first multidisciplinary environmental consultancy in the UK, where landscape architects, ecologists, environmental planners and other professionals worked together to tackle the pressing problems of environment and development. I had a very happy 23 year long career with the company in which I progressed to become first an Associate, then a Principal and finally a Director of the Company. I soon moved on from my initial focus on ecology and conservation to much broader involvement in landscape and environmental planning work. In the 1980s and early 1990s I built a strong national reputation as an expert in this field, based largely on my work in developing tools to take account of landscape in decisions about land use planning, as well as more generally in landscape planning, design and management. This continues to be a major focus of my work, but I also have strong interests in future landscapes and responses to them, and in landscapes in and around urban areas. In 1995 I joined the University of Sheffield as Professor of Landscape and as Head of Department, and held this position for ten years when, in 2005, I handed over the Head of Department role to Paul Selman.

Research Areas

My research is at the interface of research and practice and I have a long track record of successfully leading research and policy projects for a wide range of government departments and agencies. My main research focus is in the broad field of landscape and environmental planning and I have a particular reputation as an expert in this field, based mainly on my work in developing landscape character assessment as a tool to help achieve sustainable landscape planning and management. This continues to be a major focus of my work and its influence in the last five years is most clearly seen in the document “Landscape Character Assessment – Guidance for England and Wales”, of which I was the principal author. I am regularly asked to advise central and local government on landscape character assessment and have been widely involved in dissemination of guidance and new thinking on applications of the approach. The guidance has also influenced research and practice in Europe and elsewhere. In particular it has helped to shape the approach set out in the recent European Landscape Convention (ELC).

In the last three years I have been involved in ground breaking projects which have applied the character based approach to the development of landscape indicators (Countryside Quality Counts) and to the targeting of the new Environmental Stewardship Schemes in England. I am also developing new research on the effects of new drivers of change, including climate change, on the character of future landscapes and helped the (then) Countryside Agency, now Natural England to develop its research agenda in this area.

My work is not confined to rural landscapes and in the last five years I have developed a parallel research strand on urban green infrastructure and its role in urban regeneration. I led a major research project for the DTLR on improving urban parks and green spaces to inform the work of the Government's Green Space Task Force in 2002 and am currently PI on a four year European funded (INTERREG) research project on the role of landscape and environmental quality in attracting investment to degraded post industrial areas, with European partners at the University of Liege and the University of Dortmund.

Funded Research Projects

2009 -2010 Land Use Futures Project, for the Government’s Foresight Office.

2006 Countryside Quality Counts – Tracking Change in the English Countryside (with Nottingham University) Countryside Agency, DEFRA, Environment Agency et al.

2006 Future Landscapes – The Future Character and Function of England’s Landscapes, jointly with Land Use Consultants, for the Countryside Agency.

2006 A Statement on Definitions of Natural Beauty. For the Countryside Council for Wales.

2005 Landscape Change and Public Perceptions in Scotland, with Land Use Consultants, for Scottish Natural Heritage.

2004 The Peak District Landscape in 2084 – a Scoping Study on research methods for visualising future landscapes in the Peak District National Park, for the Council for the Protection of Rural England and the Peak District National Park Authority.

2004 Creating the Setting for Investment. Interreg IIIB funded Research. Total Value Euro 6 million (including implementation of schemes).

2004 Landscape Character database, with Countryscape, for the Countryside Agency.

2003 Research on the benefits or Urban Green Space, for Green Space Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage, with Land Use Consultants.

2003 Review of the Scottish Programme of Landscape Character Assessment for Scottish Natural Heritage. With Julie Martin Associates.

2003 Creating the Setting for Investment. Scoping Study for South Yorkshire and the White Rose Community Forests with funding from Yorkshire Forward.

2002 Research on Improving Urban Parks, Play Areas and Green Spaces. Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions.

Recent Publications

Swanwick, C., Newberry, D., Tewdr Jones, M., Morris, J., Goddard, J., Heathwaite, L., Echenique, M., (2010) Foresight Land Use Futures Project - Main Report. Foresight - Government Office for Science. London. 323pp

Selman, P. and Swanwick, C. (2009) On the Meaning of Natural Beauty in Legislation. Landscape Research. 35 (1), 3 - 26.

Swanwick, C. (2009) Society’s Attitudes to Land and Landscape. Land Use Policy. 26S. S62-S75.

Swanwick, C. (2008) Landscape as an integrating framework for upland management. In ‘Drivers of Environmental Change in Uplands’. Eds. Bonn, A., Allott, T., Huabacek, K. and Stewart, J. , Routledge, Abingdon.

Park, J.J., Jorgensen, A., Swanwick, C., Selman, P. (2007). Balancing landscape and development: a case study of mobile telecommunications development in the Peak District National Park, England. Planning Practice and Research. 22, 559-578.

Swanwick, C., Hanley, N. and Termansen, M, (2006) Scoping Study on Agricultural Landscape Valuation. DEFRA, London. 155 pp

Swanwick, C., Cole, L. and Lovett, A. (2006) Future Landscapes – The Future Character and Function of England’s Landscapes. 2 volumes. Report for the Countryside Agency. 57pp and 114 pp.

Swanwick, C (2006) The Role of Landscape Character Assessment, in ‘Farming, Forestry and the National Heritage – Towards a more Integrated Future’. Davison, R. and Galbraith, C. (Eds) The Stationery Office. Edinburgh.

Swanwick, C., Dunnett, N. and Woolley, H. (2003) The Nature, Role and Value of Green Space in Towns and Cities – An Overview. In Built Environment. Vol. 29. No. 2. 94-106. Theme Issue - ‘Perspectives on Urban Green Space in Europe’. (Principal Author)

Areas of Potential Research Degree Supervision

Tools for achieving sustainable landscapes including assessment and evaluation techniques, indicators, and implementation methods
Future landscapes, including drivers of change, their influence in creating new landscapes, and public responses to change, particularly generational differences
Meanings and values in landscape and relationship to place theory
The theory and practice of landscape planning, its evolution, and comparative studies of approaches to landscape planning in different countries
Landscape in urban and peri-urban areas, including approaches to green infrastructure, the value of greenspace, and landscape change in peri-urban areas.

Teaching Activities

I have had two careers, one spent in practice as a landscape and environmental consultant and one here at Sheffield as an academic. As a result I am a strong believer in what I call the ‘virtuous triangle’ in which learning and teaching, research and practice all inform each other and are mutually supportive. I teach in the field of landscape planning, covering the contribution of landscape and visual impact assessment to Environmental Impact Assessment, the relationship between landscape and development planning, and the role of landscape planning in influencing land use change and the nature of our future landscapes. I am still involved in various ways in practice and this allows be to bring this real world experience to bear on what I teach.

I am a firm believer that students learn best by doing and so all my teaching is focused around projects that are as close as possible to what graduates might experience as they move into practice. They develop both essential knowledge and subject specific and transferable skills. I know from experience that my modules can help students who want to pursue careers in landscape planning into suitable employment. Although I have always had senior management roles in the University I have always taught at both undergraduate (Level and Level 3) and postgraduate levels and get a great deal of enjoyment and satisfaction from working with students.

I teach the following modules:

LSC 109 Introduction to landscape processes and planning (undergraduate lectures on future land use)
LSC 301 Environmental impact assessment (undergraduate)
LSC 313 Landscape and planning (undergraduate)
LSC 502 Rural landscape planning project.

Administrative Responsibilities

I am currently the Director of Learning and Teaching for the Faculty of Social Sciences and will complete four years in this role at the end of the 2011-12 session.

I was Head of Department from September 1995 to August 2005, providing academic and strategic leadership. Up to 2005 I also held a wide range of Departmental, Faculty and University positions.

Extra Mural and Professional Activities

I have recently completed a four year term as an external examiner for the MA in Landscape Planning and Management at the University of Manchester and have also served as an external for the University of Reading BSc in Landscape Management and MSc in Horticulture, the University of London (Birkbeck College) MSc and Diploma in Countryside Management and Protected Landscapes and the Manchester Metropolitan University Diploma/MSc in Countryside Management.
I have also examined PhD dissertations at the Open University, the University of East Anglia, University of Cambridge (MPhil), University of London (Birkbeck), Oxford Brookes (two occasions), Manchester Metropolitan University, Edinburgh College of Art/Heriott Watt, Manchester University and the University of Gloucestershire (in the Countryside and Community Research Unit).
I was Chair of the Standing Conference of Heads of Landscape Architecture (SCHOLA) in the period 2003 to 2005 and also served on the Education Committee of the Landscape Institute in that time. In 2006 I chaired a working group from SCHOLA to prepare a new and freestanding benchmark statement on Landscape Architecture for the Quality Assurance Agency and was principal author of the document.

I have run a large number of Professional training courses on landscape matters including a series of seven regional training courses on landscape issues in the new Environmental Stewardship schemes for the Countryside Agency

My professional activities include acting as Chair of the Forestry Commission’s Regional Advisory Committee for the North of England from December 1997 to November 2000 and, after re-organisation, for the Yorkshire and the Humber Conservancy from December 2000 until the end of 2007. I served as a Director of the National Urban Forestry Unit from 2002 to 2005.