Sara Aweis

Sara Aweis
Year 3, Bsc Environmental Science
Sara Aweis! 3rd year student at QMUL, school of geography studying Bsc Environmental science.

Countdown 2030, SDGs Conference

In winter of 2015, UCL institution for ‘Global Poverty’ was holding a conference – one academic conference at the UCL institution and a pop-up workshop with installations in Stratford, East London. The conference brought together award-winning young entrepreneurs and the millennial generation on the roadmap to 2030 when the United Nations (UN) will strive to eradicate poverty worldwide by achieving the 17 set goals. As I was at the academic conference, with fellow UpRisers and UpRising Alumni (in partnership with Queen Mary University of London) we volunteered to act as correspondence by tweeting on all things based on the 20 years to prosperity and Sustainable Development Goals. It was a day packed with cakes, Twitter and fun and entailed a very informative and interesting agenda with key issues that were being discussed.

The team! At the end of a successful day full of tweeting all Sustainable Goals related topics

The team! At the end of a successful day full of tweeting all Sustainable Goals related topics



Q&A at the end of the second half of the conference! Many points were raised about ‘How many aspirations are based on what people want the world to look like rather than personal objectives and goals’ Data shows millennial are not as selfish and narcissistic as people may think, as young people aged between 18-30 years are the new game changers, we are the millennium generation!


Some interesting issues were raised about the link between poor education and health. Studies show that there is a link between people who have poor school performance and poor health in later life, this makes sense, right!. Poor education leads to the likelihood of dropping out of school, becoming unemployed and thus receiving welfare. Therefore, the prospects of attaining a job or building a career are non-existent. Consequently leading to low self-confidence, self-worth and inevitably depression. The adverse effects of not investing in good quality education – stay in school kids!

QConsult, Supported by [J.P.Morgan]

Queen Mary University Partnered with J.P.Morgan to offer students an opportunity to work as consultants on mini-consultancy projects in East London. I applied for QConsult, Supported by J.P.Morgan in summer 2016 and was fortunate to be accepted into the program. I had the privilege to work with the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation who supports scientists and researchers to answer scientific questions in the area of medical science and public health. The funding that the institution receives benefits over 14,000 people in over 70 countries and thus has major development impacts to the world.

The aim of the program was to support the Wellcome Trust overcome their challenges while increasing our employability by gaining new skills. Our objective as a team of 5 was to raise Wellcome Trusts profile as a graduate scheme amongst new graduates so that the institution employes people from a mixture of backgrounds in terms of their education, ethnicity and social status. Therefore, the scope of our work consisted of researching and analysing information on the Wellcome Trusts website design, entry requirements, application and assessment, salary, career progression, reputation and location. Through analysing this information we compared it to other organisations with reputable graduate schemes such as Deloitte, Accenture and Atkins in hopes to find a way to incorporate features which improve and increase the Wellcome Trusts appeal. Whilst conducting our project, my team and I received advice, professional guidance and training from the University Careers and Enterprise team which we adopted throughout our experience as consultants.


This experience most definitely increased my confidence as I had always felt like I was never good enough or equal to others due to my background, however, being accepted into the program and given the opportunity to partake in the various activities of group work, attending meetings, working with the client at Wellcome Trust and giving presentations all added to my confidence. As a student, I was only ever exposed to classroom settings and so having the experience to work in a professional environment prepared me to work amongst professionals throughout in the workplace.


Once I completed the programme, the Careers and Enterprise team got my group and me together in order to review the skills that we had gained from this experience in hopes to teach us how to communicate them effectively on our C.Vs and in an interview – I personally, I capitalised on my team working, communication, research and presentation skills. As a third-year student in Environmental Science, I had been thinking about my career prospects and I was considering becoming an Environmental Consultant. Therefore, taking part in this program allowed me to see what consultancy actually entails and whether it was something I truly want to pursue. I would definitely encourage students to apply for the programme and visit the Careers and Enterprise team as they truly help and guide you towards your next step in either further studies and/or career search.


UpRising Leadership Programme, in partnership with Queen Mary – Dragons’ Den

UpRising, a nine-month leadership programme, was looking for 25 young people, aged between 19-25 who live or work in the borough of Tower Hamlets. The programme (that took place on Wednesday evenings) offered a first-hand view of how politics, businesses, the public sector and community organisations work together to shape our community through a series of workshops. All the UpRisers were given an opportunity to work in groups to design and deliver a social action campaign on issues that we were passionate about.

Based on our social action plan we chose to stand for Women in Technology – cliche right?! It’s actually not. We recognise that every woman is different, therefore, our aim is to increase awareness and empower BAME (Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnic) Women in Technology where there is currently little discussion on the topic. We were inspired by groups like ‘Women and Girls in IT’ and saw a niche on raising awareness for BAME women  in Tec sectors. Thus, we strive to facilitate an ongoing discussion of the increasing current predicament of underrepresented BAME women in Tec, we strive to redefine what ‘Women in Technology’ means in the 21st century and to expand it beyond the traditional notion of geeky men on computers all day.


Pitch day, Dragons Den


Ahh memories – when we all first met and all cohorts came together at the retreat.


We emphasize the fact that intersectionality, the interconnected nature of social categories which influence systems of society, for example, race, gender, class and ethnicity could influence social mobility, create barriers to promotion and cause unconscious biases – based on Kimberle Crenshaw (1989).  Therefore, we recognise that there is not one type of feminism that fits all, from one woman to another we have multi-layered facets as individuals. This makes us unique and should not be used to suppress us but to help us stand out. Additionally, we aim to extend on the G20 goals which pledged to get more than 100 million women into the global workforce by 2025 in order to improve gender equality in the workforce.














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I think we were all so excited to start presenting with all the adrenaline rush and once it was our time to showcase what we have been working on we could not wait.


One of the best experiences of UpRising would have to be meeting so many like-minded people, there was always a great atmosphere and energy in the room – never short of conversation and debates.


We were awarded runners-up – Yay! No but seriously, we never anticipated it nor did we think that we would be ready in time for the Dragons’ Den, but I am so proud of our group and so thankful to the UpRising team for giving us that added push and confidence. As well as forming networks with senior figures, we also built strong networks amongst our peer.

Why not follow us to get the latest updates..

Twitter – @empower_wit

New Zealand, 2016

New Zealand (NZ) is known to be the adventure capital of the world, so when I was seriously considering to take the “GEG6220 – Alpine environments” module in my third year, I knew I was in for the experience of a lifetime, that plus learning about about physical processes in NZ Southern Alps, of course. In order to make the most of the experience, a group of my friends and I decided to go out to Auckland and spend three days and four nights to explore more of  NZ. Our stay on the North island, in Auckland was nothing short of adventurous fun, ranging from kayaking to Rangitoto, hiking 45mins to view the sunset from the peak and kayaking back during the night to visiting the Maori museum with a tour guide and topping it off with a Maori cultural performance.


Kayaking is not as easy as it looks, though I must say.. you will get that extra muscle workout on your arms



Watching the sunset but having to hike 45 mins back down the island and kayak back!



Day 3, visiting the Maori museum for some cultural fun!


After the Maori culture performance, these guys were great! Definitely enjoyed watching the haka performance





Once our stay in Auckland had ended, we made our way to the airport in order to catch a domestic flight to Queenstown to meet the rest of our class members and professors.


We could see Mount Cook right below us. The funny thing is that there was a retired Geography teacher who was sitting next to us and she kindly gave us information about the Geography of the area which gave us a headstart before our field trip


Kinlock lodge, our first accommodation and it did not disappoint! The views were amazing and so picturesque.





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Our first day of fieldwork where we were looking at braided rivers on the South Island and how they evolved in response to high sediment yields and expansive valley width associated with rapidly uplifting Southern Alps, intense rainfall and glacial valleys.

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Each day, we would go to different sites and focus on a longitudinal study of the Rees and Dart rivers.


A quick field sketch before getting into the van and heading to our next location

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Bobs’ Cove, a pleasant nature walk through a forest and around a cover which allows a lookout where we could see much of Lake Wakatipu


On our way to our second location, accommodation – Aoraki, Mount Cook, but not before a quick stop for a photo!


On this day, we explored the accessible proglacial zones of the Mueller and Hooker glaciers, and later we were expected to produce a geomorphological map of the area through describing and interpreting the glacial landforms, processes, and hazards.






Kawarau shotover – considering the hydraulic factors that affect lake drainage, in our own unique way!



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Drawing an end to our stay in New Zealand! #TEAMGEOGRAPHY # TEAMQM – It has been an unforgettable experience & I will be sure to be back!

Presentation training – Do not underestimate the power of speech

Increasingly with both the academic and working worlds are becoming very competitive where there is a greater need to stand out from the crowd, opportunities like this provided by QMUL and the School of Geography are great ways to develop yourself as an individual, not just within your academia but also outside of it. The presentation training, hosted by Michelle McAvoy who specialised on presentations whilst working at the Prince’s Trust has been an eye opening experience. I had definitely walked out of the training with a different perspective and confidence with my public speaking skills.  Amongst many other things, Michelle highlighted that there are four key factors to keep in mind in preparation for a presentation. FullSizeRender

Before entering a presentation, one must consider the setting of the presentation, the content that must be covered, the resources available to them and the style of delivery one would have to adopt to accommodate the audience. All of which I had never previously thought about! Other factors in the delivery of the presentation were based on the pace, pause and the tone of one’s voice when delivering a message. Finally, memorising – not essential but will help in delivering a smooth presentation. Previously I believed that my memory was something that hindered my presentation skills but after this experience, I realised that it was in fact the pace of the delivery that affected my memory. I would recommend all PASS mentors to take the opportunity, as for me it was in a sense a self-discovery where I discovered my strengths and learnt to improve my weaknesses.

I am sure there will be more opportunities like this in the following years to come, and so I would urge you to take it in order to expand on the skills you are already gaining from studying at QMUL and being a mentor. Keep an eye out for emails! Additionally, I will leave the email addresses of Debbie and Fathea from widening participants. Both are so lovely and have worked hard to put everything together for the students so do not shy away from contacting them in the future.

Debbie : Fathea:

Pass scheme at Queen Mary, training & sessions

Pass training session

Fig. 1: During the listening activity (role-play) at the pass session. Myself (left), Krishna (right)


PASS, acronym for (Peer Assisted Study Support) is a programme which is run by the students, for the students. It is a study friendly zone set up as drop in sessions so it is not compulsory nor a waste of time as you decided if you want to come and when you want to come. The mentors help, guide, and support fellow students – whether 1st, 2nd or 3rd years in the department on a weekly basis. The support is not a teaching programme, however it is used to help the students through their studies on a 1-1 without feeling intimidated to approach lecturers (not that they are – lecturers are AWESOME).

Feedback from mentees at pass 2015/16:

1. “A very helpful session, i feel as though now i know how to reference which is key” – Aqeeb

2. “Very helpful, glad i came” – Fabio

3.  “Useful for learning how to reference using the Harvard reference technique in reports”  – Alfie

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Fig. 2 Goodies from the training session, all thanks to Debbie and Fatheha

–> If you are interested in attending, please find us in room 108 in the geography department on Thursdays – between 2-3.

–> If you are interested in becoming a mentor 2016/17 please email the lovely Debbie and Fathea (Widening Participation) on further details for the upcoming pass training session.



Life of a transfer student…joining QMUL Geography in year 2


As we all know, adjusting to change is not the easiest thing. Whether you have moved home, school or between jobs – it can be life-changing. Making the decision to move university programmes part-way through your degree studies is a big deal. But with a bit of research, a little patience, and a view to the future, you can get over being the new arrival, settle in, and make the most of your new path!

Here, I speak to one transfer student who joined QMUL Geography at the start of the second year…

Q1: How are you finding your experience at QMUL so far?

“The campus is lovely and I am enjoying my experience so far. The university is in the heart of London so there’s always something to do within a short distance. I have really enjoyed it and the atmosphere around campus has a home-like feeling!  I enjoyed my second semester more than the first semester as I had settled in and got used to the way things work at Queen Mary.”

Q2: What were you expecting before you arrived at QMUL?

“I had an idea of what to expect in terms of academics but every university is different. I expected to meet lots of new people  but I realised this is something that takes time. As I arrived in the second year, keeping on top of university assignments as well as trying out different activities proved more difficult than I had initially thought. You just have to find the right balance!”

Q3: What did you think about the way the lectures are structured and the teaching? 

“Lectures in the School of Geography are well structured; you have an idea of what is going to be covered prior to attending the lecture. I like this as it prepares you for the lecture so you to print any specific material and take out essential books in the library. Lecturers are approachable and helpful, many will support you outside of their office hours which is nice to know.”

Q4: Any advice for anyone else who is a transfer student, or anyone who is considering transferring to QMUL but is afraid to do so?

  • It’s a good experience – honest!
  • Not many people know you are able to transfer (so do your research)
  • Be prepared for the process as it is long and can be daunting but it’s not as bad as it seems and once it’s over it’s a relief.
Join QMUL Geography in London's Queen Mary University of London

“I always wanted to graduate from this university, especially from the School of Geography – it’s a dream come true!” Transfer student

Set in the heart of London's East End, QMUL Geography is an excellent place to study undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in human and physical geography as well as environmental science

The School of Geography ranks consistently highly in university league tables and student satisfaction scores. Here a table of brochures and postcards hanging out in Geography Reception…

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The School of Geography at QMUL is named in the top 100 universities in the world for this subject according to QS World University rankings 2015.

“I’m just heading into my final year this autumn and am looking forward to graduating with a degree from Queen Mary University of London…pictured some helpful Student Survey bugs in Geography Reception…!”


  • If you have any queries about joining QMUL Geography, please contact our admissions team on or call 020 7882 8168.

Where Geography meets Biology! Environmental Science students visit Croatia 2015!

Ever wondered what Environmental Science students in the School of Geography get up..? Well, below is a glimpse of what happened when they joined students from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences on a field class to Croatia!

“As a part of our biology module in Environmental Science we had the opportunity to visit Croatia. On a day-to-day basis we were taught by professors specialised in their field from the University of Zagreb. We were taught through interactive fieldwork and we covered a different aspect of biology everyday. This involved studying springs, lakes, and vegetation to bats, crayfish, birds and frogs.


Croatia 2015

First sunset in Croatia, before the fieldwork begins

Sunset in Croatia, our first night before the field work begins!

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Croatia fieldwork 2015  Cetina springs, where students were classifying invertebrates, measuring water pH, and conductivity.

  Wading in... 


Krka National Park, Croatia

Bat hunting

Eco-Location! (Bat communication) On our way to a Bat cave




Boat trip, fieldwork on a boat! Does it get any better!!  Boat trip

Tree frog

Tree frog

Prof. Nichols demonstrating to the students

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Bird watching.. It isn’t as easy as it looks!

Field work


Franziska, PhD student & demonstrator with our little friend we found along the way!


Crayfish galore! No animals were harmed during the taking of this photo.

Professor Nichols exploring Church of holy salvation

A little history lesson whilst in Croatia!




QM Citizens Road Safety Campaign – #SaveMe

More than 400 people including QMUL students, staff, members of the public and community leaders from the Salvation Army, the local mosque, CitizensUK and other organisations are getting involved in the #SAVEME Campaign.

They all joined in solidarity in March to make a real change to road safety in the Mile End and surrounding area. Research, audits and interviews have been taking place with local residents and businesses to see what their concerns about road safety are. All their ideas have come together and have been taken to Transport for London (TfL) and Tower Hamlets Council in order to bring about change to our roads.

QMCitizens – a student-led organisation that work with local communities in the East End to tackle issues affecting their daily lives – will be working with Citizens UK to make sure the Council and TfL’s promises to improve road safety are followed through.

As a geographer, my involvement with Citizens UK and QMcitizens has allowed me to witness community cohesion as people from different backgrounds came together to strive for social change through political actions. Community organising was once something i had only learnt in a ‘Environment, nature and society’ module within a classroom but my involvement with QMcitizens has taken it into a wider context and in a real life situation with our  #SaveMe campaign. 

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Students showing their support from the front row

SAVEME banner

Queen Mary Students supporting the #SaveMe Campaign







In preparation for the campaign before the walk to Queen Mary


laying down flowers

Laying down flowers to show respect for those who have fallen from the poor road safety.

400 people turned up to show their support, the numbers speak for themselves.

Placards made by students

Students placard posters, with illustrations such as “Kill your speed” outside the Queen Mary campus

Speeches and stories being shared by students, staff, family members and leaders at the library square.

Patiently waiting

Laying flowers by Bancroft rd

To find out more, search #SaveMe on Twitter, check out this Facebook clip showing peaceful protest

And/or see this awareness video on YouTube

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