Geography

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.

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Pitch day, Dragons Den

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A stop in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur after our 12 hour flight from London, all smiles around!

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We made it in Auckland! Everything was so picturesque, we were in awe at the amount of trees we saw, something you do not get here in the city of London when we are so used to seeing skyscrapers everywhere.

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Putting our gear on and getting ready to kayak to Rangitoto volcanic island

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

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We made it to the top of Rangitoto

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

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

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

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We learnt so much of the Maori culture and tradition, from where they originated from to how they used to live, fight and survive.

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The tour guide was very informative and friendly, we were even given an extra tour as we missed the beginning.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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GEOMORPHOLOGICAL MAPPING fun

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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!

Pass scheme at Queen Mary, training & sessions

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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.

Debbie: d.m.andrews@qmul.ac.uk

Fathea: f.khanum@qmul.ac.uk

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

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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 geogadmissions@qmul.ac.uk or call 020 7882 8168.

From London to Jeju: a trip to South Korea

My name is Annabelle Wilkins and I’m a final-year PhD student here in the School of Geography. In September, I was invited to participate in the first academic conference to be held at North London Collegiate School on the island of Jeju, South Korea. Jeju is located off the southern coast of the mainland, around an hour’s flight from the capital, Seoul. The island is incredibly diverse, with volcanic peaks, idyllic beach resorts, hiking trails and a rapidly developing urban centre, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region.

Views of the island from Sunrise Peak, at the top of one of its many volcanoes.

Views of the island from Sunrise Peak, at the top of one of its many volcanoes.

 

NLCS Jeju was established in 2011, and is one of a growing number of international schools on the island. The school offers a British curriculum including the IGCSE, A-Level and the International Baccalaureate. In addition to NLCS, the island has also supported schools affiliated with institutions in Canada and the US, all of which are located in the recently developed Global Education City. The majority of pupils at these schools are Korean students, many of whom are planning to study at some of the world’s leading universities.

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Contrasting architecture in Seoul, where visitors can stay in restored traditional houses looking out over the modern city.

 

I was one of seven visiting academics invited to take part in the conference, participating alongside a mathematician, a classicist, a composer and a poet. The theme of the conference was based around improving subject knowledge. We were encouraged to introduce the teachers to our research interests and to suggest ideas for how they might develop and enhance their lessons and teaching methods. Before the conference itself, I also spent two days working with Year 12 and 13 students who study Geography as part of the IB syllabus. I introduced them to geographies of home and my research on Vietnamese migrants in East London, as well as talking to them about globalisation, migration and identity.

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Presenting my research to Year 12 and 13 geography students in one of the school boarding houses.

 

During the three days of the conference, each academic gave a lecture about their research to an audience of teachers from different subjects. I gave talks to staff from Maths, Chemistry, Languages and PE departments, among others, which made for some fascinating question and discussion sessions as people contributed ideas from their own backgrounds. Once they discovered that the focus of my research is on home and migration, many teachers were keen to share their personal experiences of being an expatriate teacher living in South Korea, and the objects and practices that helped them to create a sense of home.

Statue of the Buddha at Sangbansan temple, Jeju.

Statue of the Buddha at Sangbansan temple, Jeju.

 

In addition to presenting my research, I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to meet the Geography teachers and share some ideas as to how they might be able to enhance their teaching on globalisation and migration. I introduced them to critical geographies of home and other research by academics here at QMUL, and they were keen to incorporate these perspectives into the syllabus. By the end of the three days, we were discussing how to devise projects about students’ bedrooms and their material culture, possible interviews with the school’s cleaners, who used to work on the land around the school building, and inter-generational interviews between students and older people on the island. I had a brilliant experience at NLCS and also had time for trips to some of the island’s amazing beaches, temples and museums.

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A woman diver selling her catch of seafood – women divers are famous within Jeju’s island heritage.

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Hyopjae, one of Jeju’s beautiful beaches.

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Sunset in Moseulpo, a fishing village close to the school on Jeju.

Where to go next? The world of work is full of geographers…

What sort of career are you thinking of pursuing? What’s your dream job? What will you do when you finish uni? I know I’m probably not the only one who has been asked these sorts of questions over the years and most people I know have an answer. But what if you don’t have an answer? I don’t. At sixth form I wasn’t event sure if I would go to uni, I just knew I liked geography and here I am with one year left before I venture into the world of work. This summer I decided I would go and see what life was like for a geography graduate.

In July I spent a week with the Spatial and Land Use Planning team at Hertfordshire County Council. I had my own desk (how official) and was set tasks such as processing planning applications where I was able to use the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) programs I have used at QMUL Geography. I even had to present my planning permission decision to members of the department! I met the Flood Management Team and  was lucky enough to go on a site visit with an enforcement officer to a working quarry that was being restored. Vast pits were being filled and the surface replanted or transformed into lakes – quite a sight to see! I got a really broad insight into everything that takes place and realised my degree is actually quite flexible – everyone I met had studied geography!

My home for the week at Hertfordshire County Council

My home for the week at Hertfordshire County Council

 

Osprey Lake - this used to be a Quarry Pit! Photo courtesy of Friends of Panshanger Park

Osprey Lake – this used to be a Quarry Pit
Photo courtesy of Friends of Panshanger Park

 

I then spent 2 weeks with the Sustainability Team within the Estates and Facilities department here at Queen Mary. So much goes on behind the scenes at uni and again I had my own desk (exciting stuff) and got to work on sustainable catering policies that would be implemented across the campuses, promoting future events such as Go Green Week and found out how EU and UK law is making energy reduction and sustainability an integral part of business.

With a bit of luck, and by sending a few emails, I’ve managed to get a clear picture of what life after uni might look like. Student life differs from what is expected of you at work but you take away knowledge and experience from time at uni. If, like me, you’re struggling to find an answer, go and see what’s out there – you may even discover something you’ve never even considered before!  So do I have an answer to those questions? Not quite yet, but I do now know what paths I can explore, what skills and knowledge I need and have got the experience to help me get where I want to go, wherever that may be. Perhaps it’s time to dig out and tidy up that CV. . .

Sharing PhD experiences in Edinburgh

My name is Alexandra Boyle and I’m a PhD student here in the School of Geography.

This summer, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the 5th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies at the John McIntyre Conference Centre in Edinburgh. I went to present the initial results of my PhD research ‘Exploring the emotional and spatial dimensions of communication technology use among older adults in contemporary London’.

 

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Collected my conference pack for the 5th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies at the John McIntyre Conference Centre in Edinburgh.

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh and the conference centre

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Set against the stunning backdrop of Arthur’s Seat, the University of Edinburgh turned on a fantastic conference (and the weather!) for 3 days of interactive learning, socialising and networking and delicious food!

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Looking out over the historic city of Edinburgh.

 

I stayed on site at the University of Edinburgh accommodation which made me particularly nostalgic for my days as an undergraduate at Arana College at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand (with Dunedin coincidentally founded by the Scottish in 1848 and the name ‘Dunedin’ the Gaelic translation of Edinburgh. The two cities remain sister cities to this day!).

Although I was inevitably nervous about presenting, the conference was a unique opportunity to present the findings of my research to a community of like-minded scholars. The conference allowed me to test out ideas in a support environment and gain critical feedback that will help me to refine my research. The conference also provided a platform to meet interesting PhD students from Taiwan, Singapore, the UK and the Netherlands and share amongst each other our PhD experiences.

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Dr Joyce Davidson presenting her plenary session

With a diverse calendar of events not only were there daily plenary sessions with preeminent scholars in the field, namely Professor Liz Bondi and Dr Joyce Davidson who were co-authors (along with Mick Smith) of the seminal book ‘Emotional Geographies’ which helped to establish emotional geographies as discipline, but also the opportunity to participate in field trips, a drinks reception and the conference dinner…and I managed to find time to squeeze in a trip to the top of Arthur’s Seat!

My penultimate year at QMUL Geography

From volunteering in North London to travelling in a helicopter in New Zealand, my penultimate year at Queen Mary has been exceptionally busy but nonetheless another great and exciting year.

I’ve travelled to the other side of the world, become the President of a volunteer group, achieved a Silver Green Impact Award, undertaken environmental audit training and even presented my dissertation project to prospective students. Just when I think there are no more things to be involved in, another springs up and at the end of my second year with the ‘what will I do next?’ question looming, this year has definitely provided me with countless options.

In March I travelled to New Zealand for a 10-day field trip around the South Island. The scenery was breathtaking and it was definitely a trip of a lifetime! We got to take a helicopter ride up to the Franz Josef Glacier which we walked across. We went on many walks through valleys, exploring the processes that shaped them and discussed how they might look in the future, which affirmed the knowledge we’d gained from lectures leading up to the trip. Skills developed on fieldtrips like this such as filling out field notebooks and documenting results outside of the lab have definitely prepared me for my dissertation.

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Tasman Proglacial Lake, New Zealand

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The obligatory task of measuring rocks for clast shape analysis (a must for any Geography student)

Since my first year I have been involved in the QMUL Canal Clean Up Volunteer group who are affiliated with Thames 21 who kindly provide equipment, training and most importantly extra pairs of hands on events! From simply volunteering at an event on campus got to know more about Thames 21, the work they do and the opportunities of leadership training. By undertaking the training, I am now the President of the group as well as an Event Support Team Member for Thames 21 outside of university. I recently helped lead an event in Edmonton, North London, where a buried river is being resurfaced to create a wetland. I’ve developed my team work skills, organisation capabilities and learnt to work to a schedule as on events you can be working with 20 or so people. These skills are going to be transferable into the workplace but primarily I really enjoy helping out and using what I learn at university to teach others the science and reasoning behind such projects like the one in Edmonton.

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All the volunteers getting ready for a canal clean up!

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The 2015 Green Impact Awards

In my first year, I also got involved with Green Impact which aims to make the university more sustainable and environmentally aware. Having achieved Bronze last year, my team has completed the Silver Award. Again, being organised, able to achieve on a deadline as well as working and communicating with a team are all skills I’ve gained from the experience here at QMUL, but still it’s being able to put what you study and understand into practice while working with like-minded people that I enjoy most about Green Impact. Through being a Green Impact Project Assistant, I was able to undertake an IEMA approved audit training. It was an insightful day where I got to see what other Green Impact Teams were doing as well as developing experience and skills that will set me in good stead after I graduate.

Now…to get ready for my final year… 🙂

Water industry visits QMUL

Award-winning students at the Queen Mary graduation day 2015 with Professor Alison Blunt (centre)

Gabriel Streich (second left) at QMUL Geography graduation 2015

Hi – my name is Gabriel Streich and I’ve just finished my masters in environmental science at QMUL Geography!

It’s been a packed semester but I just wanted to update about an annual lecture we attended here at QMUL by the Worshipful Company of Water Conservators – one of the supporters of our masters programme: Integrated Management of Freshwater Environments.

“The annual Water Conservators Lecture, this year hosted in the impressive surroundings of Queen Mary’s Octagon, was a fascinating opportunity to hear some big names in the water industry giving their take on the issues and innovations that will affect future water use in the City of London.

“Martin Baggs, CEO of Thames Water, gave a very engaging talk on the scale of Thames Water’s supply challenge and some of the measures they are taking to tighten up on efficiency.  Talks from Mark Lane, Chairman of British Water, and a representative of the host organisation, Ricardo-AEA gave insightful lectures on the pressures facing water in the City, and also on the innovations that could address these pressures, from technical solutions, such as real-time sewer controls, through to wholesale changes in economic models, e.g. from linear to circular economies.  As a representative of the water industry as a whole, Sarah Mukerhjee, Director of Environment at Water UK, provided the context within which the other talks fell.

“This was a free event and it provided a breadth of information that is really relevant to those of us with an interest in water within London and more generally within cities.  The opportunity to network with key figures in the water industry was also a bonus that any student would be glad of.”

  • I also visited the Tagliamento River in north east Italy as part of my degree, so you can see more pics from that on Flickr. Enjoy!
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