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Missed Open Day? Here’s a Q and A with Admissions Tutor Dr Simon Lewis

The sun was shining on Geography Square for the open day as the College welcomed thousands of visitors from across the UK and beyond to its Mile End Campus.
The sun was shining on Geography Square for the open day as the College welcomed thousands of visitors from across the UK and beyond to its Mile End Campus.

Geography Square was alive with prospective students and sunshine last weekend as people visited from far and wide to come and say hello to the QMUL Geography team and find out about programmes for 2015.

From Russia to Ruislip, Singapore to Southampton, visitors were met by our team of ambassadors and academic staff ready to answer all manner of questions about studying with the School of Geography. We thought it would be helpful to put some of the most frequently-asked questions online to help those of you still browsing programmes during the summer break.

Q. What makes the School of Geography distinctive from other universities?

A. “We’re rated no.1 in London by the latest Guardian University Guide, and that score, we feel, is down to several factors that set us apart from other institutions: our research is rated joint top in the UK and this means that our staff are teaching students about the very latest developments in the discipline; the teaching team is filled with people who have acted as advisers to a range of important organisations from UNESCO to the World Bank, so they know how to apply that learning in the real world; our location in London offers a residential campus and therefore a unique student experience and we have strong links with community organisations; our fieldwork options take students to diverse locations from Mumbai to New Zealand. Combine this experience with a degree from a Russell Group University, and that’s why you’ll find some 96% of our graduates in work or further study just six months after graduation.”

Geography Ambassadors (l-r) Peter Duffell, Taslima Khanam, Aazim Ihsan and Georgina Brightwell were on hand to welcome visitors to Geography Square at the Open Day.
Geography Ambassadors (l-r) Peter Duffell, Taslima Khanam, Aazim Ihsan and Georgina Brightwell were on hand to welcome visitors to Geography Square at the Open Day.

Q. What’s your typical offer and why do you have a range?

A. “Our typical offer is ABB (320 points) with a B in Geography A Level (or a science subject for the Environmental Science degree programmes). We have a range because some programmes have a higher entry requirement and it also gives some flexibility in the offers that we make to applicants.”

Q. What is the difference between the BA and BSc Geography programme and what happens if I choose the wrong one for me?

A. “This is one of the most frequently asked questions at an open day. The main difference is one of emphasis; the BA programme takes you more towards the humanities and social science side of the discipline and the BSc programme more towards the physical and environmental side of the discipline, and each programme has different compulsory modules in 1st and 2nd year. Having said that, our newly-revised 1st year programme provides a common grounding across all our degree programmes, with methods and fieldwork training providing a distinctive flavour to each programme. In the 2nd and 3rd year you can choose to specialise within either physical or human geography or to take a broader range of modules from all those offered by the School. Methods modules and your choice of independent project topic are also guided by your choice of BA or BSc route. It is possible to transfer between programmes, though this is best done at an early stage in your studies.”

Students visit Mumbai, India, to explore the city’s uneven development.
Students visit Mumbai, India, to explore the city’s uneven development.

Q. I definitely don’t want to do any physical geography. Should I choose the BA Geography or the BA Human Geography?

A. “The BA Human Geography does not include any physical geography modules and your module choice is limited to the human geography modules offered by the School. The BA Geography degree keeps the option to study some physical geography modules open. If you are not sure, choose BA Geography.”

Q. How much do the fieldtrips cost?

A. “All the fieldtrips in the first year, which are compulsory, are included in your tuition fees. This currently includes trips to the Cairngorms in Scotland for the physical geographers and environmental scientists; and Durham, England for the human geographers. We also make great use of our location in the East End – there’s much to explore of between the City of London and the Olympic Park and beyond.

“Optional fieldtrips in the second and third years are an additional cost. Recent trips overseas have included Boston, USA (£850), New Zealand (£700 plus flights), Mumbai, India (£800), Florida, USA (£750 plus flights), Los Angeles (£1000) and Belfast and Dublin (£250). Costs will, of course, vary year-on-year depending on length of stay, exchange rates and size of party, for example, so these prices should be used just to give an idea.”

Students visit the Florida Everglades to explore the physical, environmental, political and economic issues surrounding a range of restoration and management schemes in South Florida.
Students visit the Florida Everglades to explore the physical, environmental, political and economic issues surrounding a range of restoration and management schemes in South Florida.

Q. How is the Environmental Science programme taught?

A. The Environmental Science programme is run by the School of Geography and draws on modules from both Geography and the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.  The degree has a strong emphasis on aquatic environments; rivers, coasts and estuaries and marine ecosystems and it provides a range of subject specific and transferable skills to equip you for employment in the environmental sector.  Students take modules alongside geographers and biologists and will have a tutor in the School of Geography.  They also have access to the School’s laboratory facilities to support practical learning and the ‘Project in Environmental Science’ which includes an independent research project.  There is also the option to extend your studies by transferring on to the 4-year MSci programme at the end of the second year.”

Q. Can I take modules from other Schools at Queen Mary?

A. “Yes, it is possible to take modules from other Schools in the university. Any modules taken outside of the School should be compatible with your academic programme of study, fit within the timetable, be supported by appropriate background, including any prerequisite modules, and be permitted by the School that runs the module you wish to take.”

Graduate Subaskar Sitsabeshan from Sri Lanka studied BSc Environmental Science 2011 and now works in London as a Programme Analyst for The Climate Group.
Graduate Subaskar Sitsabeshan from Sri Lanka studied BSc Environmental Science 2011 and now works in London as a Programme Analyst for The Climate Group.

Q. What sort of careers are available to geographers and environmental scientists?

A. “Our students have gone on to a wide range of careers from environmental consultant to cabinet office advisor, teacher, lawyer and community organiser. The latest stats show that some 96% of our graduates are in employment or further study some six months after leaving QMUL (HESA 2013); 71% of these working at graduate level.”

Q. What sort of lab facilities do you have?

A. “Our newly refitted teaching laboratory is the centre-piece of our laboratory suite, around which we have research facilities for the analysis of water, soil and sediment. We are able to explore a wide range of research projects and environmental problems including the concentration of pollutants and evidence for past climate change. Methods training in the first and second years provides an opportunity to use the lab facilities and your independent project (dissertation) may also enable you to develop your laboratory analytical skills.”

Students visit the Cairngorms in Scotland in the first year of their studies on BSc Geography and BSc Environmental Science.
Students visit the Cairngorms in Scotland in the first year of their studies on BSc Geography and BSc Environmental Science.

Q. How many contact hours would I get with my lecturers?

A. “You can expect to spend between 17 and 27 per cent of your time in lectures, seminars and lab sessions, as applicable, depending on the programme you are studying. Academic staff also offer dedicated office hours each week in which you can pop by to see them. The School also runs a tutorial system so in addition to lectures and seminars, you’ll meet regularly in small groups with a personal academic tutor.”

Q. Do staff involved in research still teach undergraduates?

A. “Yes. All academic staff in the School of Geography teach at all levels, which means professors take tutorial groups and teach first-year lectures, so you will be taught by world-leading experts in their field of geography and environmental science. As a School, we pride ourselves on being friendly and welcoming and our current student satisfaction scores are testament to this.”

Q. Will I get a place in halls of residence if I apply to QMUL?

A. “Queen Mary is the only campus university in central London so students enjoy living and being taught on the same site at Mile End. Accommodation in Halls of Residence is guaranteed for those: 1) living outside a reasonable commuting distance (i.e outside the M25 and prioritised to those living furthest away); 2) that apply before the June deadline; and 3) place QMUL as their Firm choice. Residential Services offers more information on its web pages.”

Q. I’m applying from abroad – will my qualifications be recognised and will I be with other international students?

A. Queen Mary welcomes students from across the world and overall has some 5,000 students from more than 150 countries. The International Baccalaureate and European Baccalaureate are accepted by the School of Geography, and more information about other non-UK qualifications can be found on the International pages of QMUL’s website.   

  • Find out more about programmes in geography and environmental science at Queen Mary University of London.
  • See a full list of current undergraduate modules available in the School of Geography (these do vary year to year).
  • Do you have a question not answered here? Email: geogadmissions@qmul.ac.uk or call: +44 (0) 20 7882 8168 and speak to a member of our admissions team.
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