We speak to nine geography and environmental science students to find out more about their experiences of undergraduate and postgraduate study at a range of UK universities
York St John University
I always knew I wanted to continue with my education. When I was looking at what subject I wanted to study I wasn’t thinking about what’s going to make me the most money – I thought: what do I actually have a passion for? I’m most interested in physical geography, but I do like human modules as well and I can do both with a BSc. I want to go on to do an MSc in disaster management and resilience when I finish my undergraduate, because the area of geography that I’m most interested in is natural hazards and management of them. The area of the world I’m interested in is Southeast Asia. I want to be equipped with everything I need to know to be able to actually go and help in areas of the world where there are disasters occurring, and maybe take away some of the more western ideas of management as well.
Hear more from Francisca and the organisation she founded: Black Geographers here
Sarah Hui Ann Tan
The London School of Economics and Political Science
Intuitively, I knew I was more of a human geographer. Hence, when it came to researching universities and modules I was most attracted to the BA Geography programme. Opportunities to engage with independent research has been for me, the best part. The biggest highlight was definitely my experience as an Undergraduate Research Fellow in my second and third year, working with Dr Thomas Smith. From brainstorming initial ideas and conducting fieldwork, to writing manuscript drafts, and ultimately, submitting a manuscript and responding to peer reviewers and editors, the Fellowship was an extremely meaningful experience. Another memorable highlight was our programme’s fieldwork trip to Havana, Cuba in second year. I had an incredible week exploring a new environment and conducting independent fieldwork.
I took a few years out of studying to decide what I wanted to do. I had a key interest in working within the natural sciences and so I attended an open day and spoke to Dr Peter Burt, the programme leader for Environmental Science and Geography at Greenwich. It was his enthusiasm which made me choose Greenwich. I can honestly say I enjoyed every moment of my degree. Being taught by the researchers who actively research environmental issues and how to work towards global development instilled in me a deeper understanding and appreciation for the field. I am currently undertaking my PhD at the University of Greenwich in: ‘The role of species-combination pollination systems in crop production, crop stress responses and fruit/vegetable quality’. I am focusing on how different pollinators interact with one another and how this can affect crop yields and quality in England and Tanzania.
My main passion is travelling, which I do at every opportunity. I always try to immerse myself in different cultures and traditions where possible and explore new places, therefore I decided to study geography. The mixture of the modules at Aberystwyth allowed me to study interactions and concepts surrounding people, while also allowing me to get my hands dirty in the lab when learning about environmental processes.
BA Geography with Placement Year
In my opinion, geography is a hidden treasure in the academic world. A subject many people pass off as ‘just about rivers’, the reality of studying geography is quite different. I chose human geography because it is one of the most academically diverse disciplines you can study, covering everything you can imagine from cultural studies, to philosophy, to politics and urban governance, and a million more things besides.
University of Nottingham
Studying geography has expanded my view of the degree in terms of how truly multi-disciplinary this subject is. Through geography I have been able to chase my aspirations of working in botany and conservation. Being positioned in the middle of the country has enabled trips to the Peak District, Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, which has helped to translate theory into surveying and data collection skills.
University of the Highlands and Islands
From the physical processes responsible for forming the landscapes around us, to the way that human societies are shaped by (and shape) their environments – geography has it all. I was drawn to study as a mature student after a decade of working in adventure tourism and outdoor education. Over that time, I became increasingly interested in issues surrounding environmental sustainability, and decided that I’d like to actively pursue a career in that field.
University of Liverpool
MA Urban Design and Planning
I was very fortunate at my university to be able to do planning modules. Luckily, I’ve been able to do some internships within planning this year, especially within green space, which is what I really enjoy – bringing natural and urban environments together. Being able to take everything that I’ve learned and put it all into a career is a very fortunate thing to be able to do.
University of Derby
After I completed my A-Levels I was unsure where I wanted my career to go. I chose geography due to its range of interesting topics that are heavily applicable in day-to-day life, as well as being increasingly relevant to current global issues (climate change, pollution, renewable energy). I believed this would give me a wide range of potential career paths, a thought which proved true after I joined a ‘Career Preparation for Geographers’ course in my second year.