School of Geography

Living Liverpool – first years explore reinvention and change

8 May 2017

First-year students at QMUL who are enrolled on Geography BA and Human Geography BA courses, take a compulsory fieldtrip to Liverpool at the end of the second semester as part of the Reinventing Britain module. They learn about economic, social and cultural change in Britain over the last three decades, the importance of studying the geography of change, the patterns of socio-economic growth and decline, and how cities and regions react to change. Geographer Danial Naqvi shares his experience with us.

Liverpool docks. Image source: Flickr © Tom Patterson

Eye-opening, heart-warming and exhilarating. Three words to describe my trip to Liverpool. Many adjectives flood my mind when I think to the four-day exploration in a Northern cornerstone city. Growing up and now studying in London, my perceptions of anything north of the London circular are very much blurred, with the same sentiment evident amongst my friends. London is the hustle and bustle you’d expect from a capital city while Liverpool is very mellow and in some ways very isolated.

The trip to Liverpool was part of the Reinventing Britain module. The module consisted of a range of geographies, from historical to economic and cultural too. Some interesting additions about football geographies intrigued the football-mad gents on the course, including myself. The purpose of the trip was to envision and bring to life the lecture material. Truly experience the realities of what we were learning about the deindustrialisation of the ports and the subsequent decline of Liverpool’s economy.

Session with the archives at the Maritime Museum. © Carey Newson

The experience really was next-to-none, wouldn’t have changed the people nor the place. An opportunity to connect with coursemates in an exterior realm to the lecture hall, which I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. The activities get you to engage fully with the topics, such as the museums. I took part in an hour session with the archivist at the International Slavery Museum where I held artefacts from the shipping and trade industries from 200 years ago. Listening to her knowledge on the subject and consequently holding history was an experience which I didn’t think I’d enjoy, but truly became enthralled in.

Albert docks, Liverpool. © Fran Darlington-Pollock

The most enjoyable part of the trip was visiting Port Sunlight for me, it is a village solely established to provide homes and a community for the workers in the, now Unilever factory. In the 19th century, when the Lever Brothers first set-up shop on the Wirral, a short 30-minute coach journey away, there was a strong obsession on health and providing a healthier Britain. Words cannot describe the pristine nature of the buildings and the greenery. For the beginning of April, Port Sunlight was definitely in bloom.

I’ve learnt more than I could ever imagined. Apart from the fact that my geographical knowledge has expanded, more understanding of health, culture and economy and everything in between, I’ve learnt about the people I share BA Geography with at QMUL. The different stories of the people who attend this university, the social environment that promotes successful academics is well-established at QMUL.

QMUL Geographers on the steps of the Lady Lever Art Gallery at Port Sunlight. © Danial Naqvi

Being a BA Human Geography undergraduate, I study health geography as its own module in my first year. The experience at the Applied Health Geography exercise will help me evaluate and be more critical when exploring health issues in the future. Additionally, realisation that Geography has a place in all strands of academics, making sure that I appreciate other disciplines and their usefulness for my degree when it comes to dissertation in the third year.

Overall, I would say a trip of lifetime. A great time of year, and a fantastic way to end the year. A celebration of first year I would label it as, a chance to engage with lecturers in interesting issues and a chance to explore another pocket of the United Kingdom.

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