Professor David Sadler spent most of his early career in the Department of Geography at the University of Durham. He was appointed Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Liverpool in 2002. At Liverpool, he became Head of the Department of Geography from 2004 to 2007, and Dean of the Faculty of Social and Environmental Studies from 2007 to 2009.
In 2010 he was appointed Vice President (Academic) at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, based at Suzhou, and worked there until 2014. In this time the joint-venture institution grew from 2,000 to 7,000 students, becoming the largest international university in China.
In 2014, he was appointed as Vice Principal (International) at Queen Mary University of London.