From 1979 until 1990, he was professor of city and regional planning in the University of Wales at Cardiff where he acted as the dean of the School of Environmental Design (1983-1986) and head of the department (1985-1989). His early career was as an assistant lecturer at the University of Manchester (1966-1969) and as a research assistant, lecturer, and then reader at the University of Reading (1969-1979). He has held several visiting appointments in computing, engineering, planning, and geography at the universities of Illinois, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Bristol, and Michigan.
His research work involves the development of computer models of cities and regions, and he has published many books and articles in this area, the most recent being Cities and Complexity (MIT Press, Cambridge, M.A., 2005) and an edited volume GIS, Spatial Analysis and Modeling (ESRI Press, Redlands, C.A., 2005). He has received various honours for his work. Most recently, the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) awarded him with the 2012 UCGIS Research Award for his work in theories and models of cities, particularly his work in complexity theory, cellular automata and fractals, and in recognition of CASA which he has built up since leaving the U.S. for London in 1995.