School of Geography

Geographers explore economic development in Malaysia

9 April 2018

As part of a new undergraduate module Economic Futures: Malaysia Emerging, 30 students embarked on an 8-day trip to Malaysia at the end of March. As the first ever geography field class to Malaysia, students experienced not only the multicultural setting of this Southeast Asian country, but also gained first-hand knowledge and assessed their own questions surrounding the complexities of economic development and worker conditions through a variety of talks and visits to government agencies, civil society organisations, trade unions, and the private sector.


“Starting in the capital city Kuala Lumpur and ending in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Georgetown, Penang, students had also had the chance to explore the diversity and uniqueness of the country through cultural walking tours and through their own small group research projects,” said field class leader and Lecturer in Economic Geography, Dr Gale Raj-Reichert. The students even attended a trade union conference which was reported locally.

“We learnt about the economic development of Malaysia, as well as the role civil society has to play in it,” said one of the students, Rebecca Large (Human Geography BA 2018).

“My focus on the trip was looking into the refugee crisis, and how civil society can be used to intervene and lobby for the rights of these people. I’ve learnt that civil society is key in helping these refugees access what seem like basic human rights to the rest of us, for example education, employment and health care. 


“I think that I’ll use the knowledge gained from this trip to pursue a career in civil society, particularly NGOs working in international development, including refugees.

“The best part of the trip for me was definitely getting to know my fellow students a lot better, and I have made many friends for life from this trip.

“Getting to experience a whole new culture was just amazing, and Malaysia is a country I will definitely be returning to in the future; from the food to the people, the weather to the landscape, it was all just incredible,” added Rebecca.


The new field class is optional for third-year undergraduate students taking Geography BA and Human Geography BA courses. Postgraduate students on the Development and Global Health MA and Global Development Futures MA/MRes programmes also have the opportunity to travel to Malaysia as part of the Researching Development in Practice: Malaysia Emerging  module.

More information:

  • Find out about undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the School of Geography at QMUL
  • See more photos of the field trip on Flickr, and some tweets below: