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School of Geography

Bethany's success story


A small setback or change of heart can often lead to better opportunities. Bethany Harris, who joined our Geography BA degree programme through Clearing, shares with us the advantages of studying at Queen Mary.

Bethany Harris, Geography BA, 2018
Bethany Harris, Geography BA, 2018

What do you enjoy most about Queen Mary?

Everyone at QMUL is incredibly friendly! During your time here, you are likely to make friends with students who come from a variety of different backgrounds studying a wide range of subjects, who have arrived here from across the globe. Also, you will be able to share your passion for geography with students who are just as enthusiastic about the subject as you are.

What do you enjoy most about your course?

The teaching standards are incredibly high at Queen Mary. I find all lecturers very approachable, especially if you are struggling to understand a concept. They are happy for you to email them or drop in during their office hours to discuss any issues that you might have. Beyond that there is so much support within the School of Geography and at QMUL. In particular, my first-year personal tutor made all the difference and gave me an immeasurable amount of support and encouragement that I am forever grateful for. Also, the Peer Assisted Support Scheme (PASS) is excellent as it allows you to discuss areas of assignments you are struggling with, with second and third year students. 

You also get the opportunity to study a wide range of topics from post-medical geography to economic geography and lots more. During your degree, you can undertake fieldwork in locations such as the USA, Malaysia and India. But, even if you're not keen on travelling like myself, there are still a ton of non-field trip modules available for you to choose from. 

Can you find work while you study?

There are multiple volunteering and job opportunities at QMUL. The Students' Union often advertise vacancies on their website, and there are opportunities via the QTemps service too. The Careers & Enterprise team is excellent at supporting you whilst you search for a part-time job during your degree. They can assist you in a variety of ways: from helping you to develop your interview skills to assisting you in creating an effective CV.

What do you think of the campus?

It’s great that Queen Mary is a campus university. Everything you need is on campus from shops to cafes and restaurants. Although I don’t live on campus, I have used many of the facilities at Mile End. It’s rare for students to travel home during their break as there is so much they can do on campus to pass the time.

During the day, the Mile End campus can be incredibly peaceful. I love the peace and quietness of campus. You can easily escape from the business of Mile End Road. Sometimes when you are outside sitting alongside the Regent's Canal watching all the ducks swim around it’s easy to forget that you are slap bang in the middle of London! But, on the other hand, campus is also so close to everything. All you have to do is just spend a couple of minutes on the tube and you can explore all the tourist sites of central London or, you can travel up to Westfield in Stratford for a bit of shopping!

What's your experience as a commuter student? 

I commute to university from just outside of Southend-on-Sea. It takes me approximately two hours to get to university every day. A lot of people think I’m mad for spending four hours a day travelling but I love living in the countryside and wouldn’t give up being a commuter student. A lot of other Queen Mary students commute to university too from within and outside of London.

By commuting, I feel like I have the best of both worlds – I can fully engage with all aspects of student life on campus, and still have all the comforts of living at home. Plus, I’ve saved so much money by living at home instead of living in student accommodation!

What advice would you give to students considering applying to Queen Mary in Clearing?

Don’t panic. I know it is incredibly hard not to stress when all your friends have got their university placement through the traditional way and you are stuck in Clearing. However, I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Just because QMUL wasn’t your first choice it doesn’t mean that the next three years of your life won’t be amazing!

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