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School of Geography

School of Geography at QMUL

A reputation - 125 years in the making

At Queen Mary University of London, we believe that a diversity of ideas helps us achieve the previously unthinkable.

Founded in 1894, the School of Geography is one of the oldest in the UK. Throughout our history, world-class and politically engaged research has fed into our teaching which, in turn, examines some of the most serious dangers facing our planet and society. Working side-by-side, students and researchers from a diversity of backgrounds examine topics such as climate change, sustainability, global health, ecology and biodiversity.

Our work has yielded significant breakthroughs for social justice on a local and national level. We are proud of having led the research for the Living Wage campaign, which revealed how decent wages could save the government £1billion per year on income support in London alone. This campaign has since been instrumental in lifting 15,000 low-wage workers out of poverty. 

Through academic excellence and pioneering research, the School of Geography continues to confront inequality and focus on combatting some of the most pressing global challenges. In doing so, we are able to achieve the unthinkable – and inspire our students to do the same.

Research excellence

Geography at Queen Mary is positioned seventh in the UK for the quality of its research according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) – the nation-wide assessment of the quality of research across UK higher education institutions. Ninety two per cent of our research outputs are rated as world-leading or internationally excellent. The latest QS World University Rankings by Subject (2018) places us in the top 100 geography departments in the world.

Since 2008, the School has gone from strength to strength attracting an 80 per cent increase in total external research grant awards. Two new interdisciplinary research centres – the Centre for Studies of Home and the Centre for the Study of Global Security and Development – have launched since, and we attract AHRC, ESRC and NERC funding for full- and part-time PhD studentships. QMUL Geography is a partner institution in the Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctoral programme (SMART) which focuses on the core areas of natural and engineering sciences relevant to the sustainable management of river systems.

Research in the School of Geography is pursued through the following themes:  

Regular research activities are also hosted by our interdisciplinary research centres:

Teaching excellence

We pride ourselves on our teaching and have a particularly good record of working with students to achieve their highest potential. Our undergraduate students across geography programmes share a common first year to establish a necessary grounding in the discipline. Second and third year teaching allows them to focus more as their interests develop, culminating in a third year independent study that can be focused anywhere in the world. Fieldwork in both human and physical geography and environmental science is a core aspect of teaching here in the School of Geography and sees students applying what they learn in the classroom to real world situations in destinations as diverse as India, Malaysia or the USA. Graduate destinations from geography and environmental science are diverse and include careers from teaching to law, environmental consultancy to banking, media to government, community organising to project management.

World-class facilities

The School of Geography offers students and researchers access to industry-leading laboratory equipment for both physical geography and environmental science research. The River Lab opened in the autumn of 2014 and adds to the already excellent facilities for the analysis of water, soil and sediment. An analytical suite allows students and researchers to explore a range of environmental problems and change. We also have Microtomography (CT) equipment which focuses on the description, interpretation and measurement of components, features and fabrics of soils and sediments at a microscopic level.

A thriving postgraduate school

Our Graduate School is large and vibrant. We offer an attractive range of masters programmes that reflect the distinctive research strengths of the School. Our human geography programmes have all been recognised under the ESRC’s 1+3 funding regime for which we receive quota studentship funding. These enable students who wish to continue on to doctoral research to apply for funding to cover both their MA/MSc and PhD. Our PhD students are also funded by AHRC (including Collaborative Doctoral Award studentships), NERC and the LISS-DTP doctoral programme.

Working with schools

The School of Geography has been home to the Geographical Association’s East London branch since its launch in January 2014. We hold free events for students and teachers, and provide subject updates and opportunities for networking. Our students work with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) to act as ambassadors in schools to promote geography. A student mentoring scheme called Stepping Stones launched in January 2015 which involves current students working with three local schools to share their enthusiasm for the study of geography and environmental science. Some pupils who participated in the scheme in the past few years have successfully applied to, and are now studying with us. 

Student support

We aim to ease the transition from home to university life even before students arrive at Queen Mary. Our Springboards team of current undergraduates are availabe during Welcome Week to answer any questions that new students might have. We also place an academic tutorial system at the centre of our teaching so that, in addition to lectures and seminars, students meet regularly in small groups with a personal academic tutor. 

Public engagement

The School of Geography engages with a wide range of research users, policy makers and the public to ensure that our research has major impact – in scope and significance – from the local (often in east London) to the international. Our approach involves establishing and sustaining collaborative frameworks for research; applying research in practice through committee membership and engagement with policy makers and practitioners; and broadening the audiences that engage with our research. Our public engagement work has been funded by QMUL’s Centre for Public Engagement, AHRC Creativeworks London and other funding bodies.

Queen Mary University of London

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is one of the UK’s leading research-focused higher education institutions. With more than 25,000 students, 4,000 staff and an annual turnover of £400m, it is one of the biggest University of London colleges. QMUL is one of 24 leading UK universities represented by the Russell Group and is therefore committed to maintaining the very best research, an outstanding teaching and learning experience, excellent graduate employability and unrivalled links with business and the public sector. The university is ranked in the top ten in the UK for multi-faculty universities for the quality of its research (REF 2014). 

Based in a creative and culturally diverse area of east London, Queen Mary's friendly, self-contained Mile End campus is one of the largest in the capital. The 2012 Olympic Games transformed our local area forever – as a student with us, you will be placed at the heart of this ongoing development, which provides the perfect backdrop for your studies. Students and staff are attracted to the university from more than 160 countries globally – a diversity that contributes to a lively and welcoming community.

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