Graduate students are an integral part of the School of Geography’s research environment and are fully represented as decision-making members on all of the School’s key committees. In addition to a comprehensive programme of research skills training, a unique mentoring system helps guide students through the School and encourages them to become actively involved in school events.
Training is an important part of developing future researchers, and for furnishing more general, transferable skills necessary for successful careers in a range of fields. Each of our masters degrees incorporates a carefully designed training programme. The specialist (subject specific) training needs of MSc students in Physical Geography are met through two specially designed modules – GEG 7203 Physical Geography Research and Practice, and GEG 7204 Project-Specific Research Training. Such training is greatly enhanced by the opportunities research students have to access state-of-the art equipment in the school’s own (recently refurbished) laboratories as well as in the Centre for Micromorphology (CfM) and Centre for Aquatic and Terrestrial Environments (CATE) at Queen Mary.
Students taking Geography MA/MSc, Cities and Cultures MA and Globalisation and Development MA, complete the school’s own ESRC recognised training module GEG 7113 Social Science Research: Methods and Methodologies (taught jointly with the Department of Geography, UCL). This highly innovative and well regarded research training programme enables access to a very wide range of research expertise and facilitates the rapid establishment of an extensive research network consisting of other postgraduate students and staff across the two departments. It also provides students with an ESRC recognised research training award which enables them to apply for ESRC funding should they wish to proceed to a PhD.
More specialist advice and support for the masters dissertation is provided by a dedicated supervisor with whom they will meet on a regular, one-to-one basis throughout the module. Supervisors will have some expertise in the student’s proposed area of dissertation research and may be drawn from across the School of Geography. Each student will receive individual supervisions, lasting at least 30 minutes, four times each semester and four times in the summer term and vacation. While primarily supporting the student in his or her dissertation research, the supervisor will also provide more general academic help, guidance and feedback. A ‘Supervision Record Sheet’ will be completed after each meeting and the student and supervisor will jointly fill in a ‘Progress Report’ at the end of each semester, identifying key achievements as well as any problems that need resolving.
Comprehensive programme induction is delivered via an induction day in the School of Geography that is provided for all incoming students during induction week (the week before formal teaching commences). This is used as an opportunity to acquaint new students with the format of the programme and expectations of them. Students also receive a library induction. All students meet with the programme Convenor during this week to talk about module selection and how to manage the enrolment process. Students with special educational needs have the opportunity to talk to their adviser about how the College can best support them, and to agree with the students how to communicate those needs to appropriate members of staff.
The student mentor scheme involves new MA/MSc students being assigned a postgraduate mentor from the Graduate School. This will be a fellow student who can help with information and advice about the department and the experience of being a postgraduate.
The Graduate School Committee provides a formal means of communication and discussion between the School of Geography and its postgraduate students. The committee consists of postgraduate student representatives together with some members of staff (including the Director of Graduate Studies, the MA/MSc Director and programme convenors). There are elections for postgraduate members at the start of each academic year. It is designed to respond to the needs of students and meets regularly throughout the year. Matters raised in this committee are reported to the rest of the School's staff (via the Teaching and Learning Committee, the Departmental Quality Enhancement Committee or the School Meeting) so that they can take action as appropriate.
Further training in Personal and Professional Development is provided through the College’s Learning Institute and Humanities and Social Sciences Graduate School. A student’s Personal and Professional development is carefully monitored by their supervisors, ensuring that our students are well equipped for life after their studies – whether in academia or beyond.