Essex psychologist teams up with entrepreneur to map Brexit

  • Date

    Tue 29 May 18


An Essex academic has helped create ‘Tube-style’ maps so people can better understand Brexit.

Essex psychologist teams up with entrepreneur to map Brexit

Dr Maxwell Roberts from the Department of Psychology is one of the world’s leading map design experts and has worked on a joint initiative to create twelve colourful maps that represent the impact of Brexit for each sector and UK region with issues interlocking as if they are underground train lines.

Brexit Mapping is the brainchild of Dr Roberts, who also runs Tube Map Central, and Sietske de Groot, EU Affairs Consultant and director of Tradepeers Ltd.

Instead of ploughing through long reports, the maps allow businesses to understand Brexit at a glance and focus on topics and issues important to them. Each map is planned so each line is a sector of the economy, each station a Brexit issue and each zone an area of expertise.

Sietske said: “Brexit is one of the most complex issues of our time. Whatever the outcomes of the negotiations, the impact of Brexit on businesses needs to be broken down into practical issues for them to manage the uncertainty and take planning decisions.”

Dr Roberts decided to take on the project to paint a clearer picture of Brexit.

He said: “Schematic maps can have a massive visual appeal that engages people and draws them in. Creating these maps was a fascinating exercise, raising all sorts of questions in my head about how and where business functions.”

As part of the project, Dr Roberts had to convert complex issues into effective visual maps so people working in different sectors can easily identify issues relevant to them.

He added: “There are many schematic Tube maps which don't function very well. Here it works because the lines are genuinely distinct, and the issues are complex and amenable to visual display.”

Going forward, Dr Roberts and the team behind Brexit Mapping hope to produce more maps that will highlight other issues and help businesses outside the UK understand the process.

He said: “We are exploring the possibility of mapping other Brexit issues in this way, with very direct international relevance.”

Dr Roberts has also been named a 2018 Atlas of Design Finalist for his Chicago El map inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Out of over 300 entries, only 32 designs including a map created by Dr Roberts have been chosen to feature in the 2018 Atlas of Design publication.

The Brexit Maps were on display at Going Global Live on 16-17 May 2018 at ExCel London. They are now available to view online at

Dr Roberts and Sietske de Groot will be talking about their work at an event for local businesses on 1 August 2018 at our Colchester Campus.

 Photo credit: TradePeers Ltd and Tube Map Central.