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My Experience Studying Geography at QMUL

My Experience Studying Geography at QMUL

As I approach writing my final year dissertation project – the concluding essay comprising of the learning that I have gained over the past three years at Queen Mary – I am reminiscent of how I got here. After a seemingly endless number of open day visits at universities across the country, why did I choose to study geography as Queen Mary?

Why Queen Mary?

In my first year at sixth form, I attended a UCAS HE fair where I heard from loads of different universities, but was particularly interested in studying at a university in London. I’m from a small town in the north of England. Despite the beautiful landscapes and walks, there’s not heaps to do in my hometown – I knew that I wanted to be somewhere busy, where there is always something new to see. The Queen Mary University of London booth really got my interest, speaking with a lovely lady, I explained that I wasn’t quite sure of what career I would like go into but knew that I would want to go to university. She asked me what my interests were, what I was studying at the moment, and what I enjoy doing in my free time. After spending some time with her going through the prospectus, she suggested the BA Geography course. I loved studying Geography at A-Level, and it was something that I have always been quite good at. I really enjoy studying people, places and how the interaction between the two form some interesting phenomena. The study of this intersection between people and place, I would argue, is the backbone to the discipline.

I can remember a sunny July day back in 2017, I spent a weekend in London with my dad on a whirlwind tour of all of the universities that I was interested in the area, but following on from my discussion with the representative from QMUL at the UCAS fair, I made a point that I wanted to spend the majority of my time looking at Queen Mary, and the surrounding area. I absolutely loved the vibe here on campus. Everyone seemed so friendly and welcoming. Also having viewed some other universities in the city I personally didn’t really like the fact that most of them felt incredibly disbursed – lectures would take place in one area, the library would be a mile away and the student accommodation would be maybe over half an hour walk away from the lecture halls. At QMUL, everything is found on the central Mile End campus. The gym, the library, a restaurant, cafés, bars, shops, a medical centre… the lot! It felt like an oasis in the bustling city! I knew from then that QMUL was the university for me. I looked more into the course and was captivated by all of the interesting modules that were on offer to select. From then I applied to the university on UCAS and within a month, I had received an offer from them. I instantly firmed it, and then worked hard to get the grades required in my examinations.

Life at Queen Mary

Now I’m at Queen Mary, I am happy to say that my experience here is just what I envisioned it to be. The modules that I am studying within the School of Geography and Environmental Science are really current and extremely engaging. An example would be a module I studied in my first year called 'Reinventing Britain'. That module considered how policy changes in the past, such as housing policy, social and economic policies etc... are impacting people across the UK at different scales and in different regions. Following all of this theoretical learning, we then took that to the field in a trip to Liverpool over a week. It was really interesting being able to apply what we had learnt in the lectures and seminars in a real life situation - interviewing people in deprived areas to understand how they feel they have been impacted by austerity for example! The fact that the lecturers were so engaging and made the subject so enjoyable made the long hours working and writing actually very pleasurable. The knowledge that I have learnt in the classroom, is easily applicable to daily understandings of life. These understandings of several wide-ranging topics will make you incredibly valuable for employers across various fields of work.

My Career

So that brings me on to my job - what do I want to go into post-university. The question was bugging me from the second I left sixth form. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do exactly, but I knew that from going to a good university, and the transferable skills that I will acquire along the way – I wouldn’t find it too hard to land an interesting job. Prior to staring university, the only job I could somewhat envisage myself enjoying would be an urban planner, it was the only career that I could really see myself in. As you will know from reading above, I decided however instead of taking a pure urban planning course, I would take a course that would allow me to study urban dynamics, but would also allow me to deal and understand other topics such as cultural geography and development geography. I’m glad that I did this because now, two years on, I am quite confident that I no longer want to be an urban planner. Through the study of geography, I’ve found that urban planning maybe wasn’t the industry I thought it was prior to studying at university level. Studying modules such as cultural geography however has opened my eyes to just how much I love researching and reading about our world and current affairs, which has spurred me on to developing an interest into a career in journalism! With the help of the University’s careers department I have been able to secure work experience with the BBC, and I am now certain that this is the field I will pursue a career in after I graduate.

The Future

I know that studying at Queen Mary has given me the foundations required to move to my next step. The support that they have given me has been astounding, from career advice, helping me find work experience, and supportive tutors and lecturers who have given me the confidence to express myself and push myself to my academic and creative limits. Looking back, I know that choosing Queen Mary was the right choice for me, I have made friends for life and have so many memories along the way. I am excited to see what the future brings me.

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