Code of Ethics


The Code of Ethics defines a core set of values that both underpins the professional status of those involved in any aspect of the cartographic industry and aims to build a community whose members act in such a way that promotes trust in the profession and its associated fields. All Members of the British Cartographic Society are expected to support and adhere to the BCS Code of Ethics, and activity or behaviour which contravenes this may form sufficient grounds for complaint and expulsion under By-law 20.

The British Cartographic Society’s Code of Ethics comprises the following five principles and associated guidelines:

These guidelines draw upon others already in use by related organisations, such as the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Royal Geographical Society, and the Chartered Society of Designers.



Strive for openness and transparency in all your work. Be straightforward and clear in your conduct and state data sources and/or methods where possible and appropriate. Respect and acknowledge the copyright and intellectual property rights of others, seeking and obtaining permission where appropriate. Aim to foster a community of trust, openness and respect. Some questions you could ask yourself include the following:

  • Would a fellow professional approve of my actions?

  • Am I fostering trust in my work, in the BCS and in cartography in general?

  • Am I willing to share how I conduct my work?



Be consistent in the application of your advice, judgement and skill when making decisions. Make clear to all interested parties where there may be a potential conflict of interest and challenge undue influence of others that may affect your professional judgement. Aim to be truthful and unbiased, using analytical, scientific or artistic methods that do not deliberately aim to mislead others. Some questions you could ask yourself include the following:

  • Am I putting my own interests above those of my client or the public?

  • Am I striving to communicate what I believe to be true?

  • Would a fellow professional or the wider public support my actions?



Strive to ensure that your clients, or others to whom you have a professional responsibility, receive the highest possible standards of service. Work to the best of your ability and be clear about what you will provide and what the client can expect. Be open and transparent about how you charge for your work and in how you communicate this to your client. Strive to meet deadlines where these are mutually agreed. Be open to new advances in the discipline and update your skills accordingly. Strive to create a professional culture that fosters creativity and encourages new solutions. Some questions you could ask yourself include the following:

  • Am I explaining clearly what I promise to do and am I striving to keep that promise?

  • Do I look to see how I can improve the work or advice I offer?

  • Am I being honest about what work I can deliver and when?



Treat everyone with courtesy, politeness and respect. Consider cultural sensitivities and business practices. Avoid discrimination against anyone for whatever reason and strive to ensure that people within and beyond the industry are treated fairly. Some questions you could ask yourself include the following:

  • Am I acting in such a way that would be deliberately harm the reputation of others?

  • Am I treating each person with the same level of courtesy and respect I expect others to treat me?

  • Do I actively seek to promote good examples of work instead of drawing attention to bad examples of work?



Be accountable for your actions and approach your work with skill, care and diligence. Ensure that you and your co-workers are clear about their responsibilities and encourage openness and trust. If you suspect something is not right, attempt to resolve the matter with colleagues first and seek advice from the BCS if necessary. Some questions you could ask yourself include the following:

  • Is it clear that I (or my organisation) am responsible for the work produced?

  • Am I committed to ensuring that ethical standards are upheld within and beyond my organisation?

Diversity and equality

We are committed to promoting diversity and equality in cartographic and associated professions and condemn all forms of prejudice and discrimination. We recognise that we need to do better to encourage a more diverse community – including across age, gender, race and ethnicity – in our Society through our actions, events and educational activities.

Approved by BCS Council on 20 July 2020. Any queries should be directed to the Honorary Secretary.