School of Geography

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School of Geography at Queen Mary University of London

A reputation - 120 years in the making

Our School – whose history dates back to 1894 – is one of the oldest Schools of Geography in the UK. We have an excellent reputation for teaching and research across human and physical geography as well as environmental science. Students and researchers come to study from all over the world to work side-by-side in a strong, supportive and forward-thinking School with some of the most prominent researchers in the field. Our home in east London, positioned between the historic City of London, Docklands and Canary Wharf, the ever-changing East End and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, make Mile End an inspiring place in which to live, study and work. 

We collaborate with a wide range of organisations, including Citizens UK, V&A Museum of Childhood, The Geffrye Museum of the Home, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), Natural History Museum and many more. The calibre of our researchers also brings collaborations with many national and international organisations from the Environment Agency to UNESCO. One of our key strengths is our ability to apply a geographical perspective to problem-solving from local to global scales. We are committed to research and research-led teaching that focuses on solutions to some of the biggest challenges affecting societies and the environment today.

Research excellence

Geography at Queen Mary is positioned fifth in the UK for the quality of its research outputs (books and articles) according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) – the nation-wide assessment of the quality of research across all departments and schools in all UK universities. Eighty per cent of our research outputs are rated as world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*). 

Since 2008, the School has gone from strength to strength attracting an 80 per cent increase in  total external research grant awards. Two new interdisciplinary research centres – the Centre for Studies of Home and the Centre for the Study of Global Security and Development – have launched since and we attract AHRC, ESRC and NERC funding for full- and part-time PhD studentships. QMUL Geography is a partner institution in the Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctoral programme (SMART) which focuses on the core areas of natural and engineering sciences relevant to the sustainable management of river systems.

The School of Geography has four main research themes:  

Our research is also organized via six research centres:

Teaching excellence

We pride ourselves on our teaching and have a particularly good record of working with students to achieve their highest potential. Our undergraduate students across geography programmes share a common first year to establish a necessary grounding in the discipline. Second and third year teaching allows them to focus more as their interests develop, culminating in a third year independent study that can be focused anywhere in the world. Fieldwork in both human and physical geography and environmental science is a core aspect of teaching here in the School of Geography and sees students applying what they learn in the classroom to real world situations in destinations as diverse as New Zealand, the Florida Everglades or Mumbai in India.

The School of Geography at QMUL ranks consistently highly in university league tables. Our current rankings include:

  • One of the top 100 geography departments in the world (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016)
  • 20th in the UK for geography and environmental science (Times and Sunday Times University League Table 2015); top in London for research; 3rd in London overall
  • 22nd in the UK and in the top five in London for geography and environmental science (Guardian University Guide 2017)
  • 24th in the UK for geography and environmental science (The Complete University Guide 2017); 2nd in London for overall student satisfaction (for human geography)
  • 93 per cent of our students were in work or further study six months after graduation (DLHE 2015)

Graduate destinations from geography and environmental science are diverse and include careers from teaching to law, environmental consultancy to banking, media to government, community organising to project management.

World-class facilities

The School of Geography offers students and researchers access to industry-leading laboratory equipment for both physical geography and environmental science research. The River Lab opened in the autumn of 2014 and adds to the already excellent facilities for the analysis of water, soil and sediment. An analytical suite allows students and researchers to explore a range of environmental problems and change. We are also home to the Centre for Micromorphology which focuses on the description, interpretation and measurement of components, features and fabrics of soils and sediments at a microscopic level.

A thriving postgraduate school

Our Graduate School is large and vibrant. We offer an attractive range of masters programmes that reflect the distinctive research strengths of the whole School. Our human geography programmes have all been recognised under the ESRC’s 1+3 funding regime for which we receive quota studentship funding. These enable students who wish to continue on to doctoral research to apply for funding to cover both their MA/MSc and PhD. Our PhD students are also funded by AHRC (including on five Collaborative Doctoral Award studentships), NERC and via the Erasmus SMART joint doctoral programme.

Working with schools

The School of Geography has been home to the Geographical Association’s East London branch since its launch in January 2014. We hold free events for students and teachers and provide subject updates as well as opportunities for networking. Our students work with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) to act as ambassadors in schools to promote the study of geography. A new student mentoring scheme – Stepping Stones – launched in January 2015 and involves current students working with local schools to share their enthusiasm for the study of geography and environmental science.

Student support

Even before you arrive at Queen Mary, we aim to ease the transition from home to university life. Our Springboards team of current undergraduates will be at Welcome Week and online to answer any questions that you might have –  however big or small. We also place an academic tutorial system at the centre of our teaching so that, in addition to lectures and seminars, you'll meet regularly in small groups with a personal academic tutor. 

Public engagement

The School of Geography engages with a wide range of research users, policy makers and the public to ensure that our research has major impact – in scope and significance – from the local (often in east London) to the international. Our approach involves establishing and sustaining collaborative frameworks for research; applying research in practice through committee membership and engagement with policy makers and practitioners; and broadening the audiences that engage with our research. Our public engagement work has been funded by QMUL’s Centre for Public Engagement, AHRC Creativeworks London and other funding bodies.

Queen Mary University of London

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is one of the UK’s leading research-focused higher education institutions. With more than 20,000 students, 4,000 staff and an annual turnover of £300m, it is one of the biggest University of London colleges. QMUL is one of 24 leading UK universities represented by the Russell Group and is therefore committed to maintaining the very best research, an outstanding teaching and learning experience, excellent graduate employability and unrivalled links with business and the public sector. The university is ranked in the top ten in the UK for multi-faculty universities for the quality of its research (REF 2014); 13th in the UK and 107th in the world (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015); 98th in the world – a rise of almost 50 places in two years (QS World University Rankings 2015). 

Based in a creative and culturally diverse area of east London, Queen Mary's friendly, self-contained Mile End campus is one of the largest in London. The 2012 Olympic Games changed our local area forever - as a student with us, you will be placed at the heart of this ongoing development, which provides the perfect backdrop for your studies. Students and staff are attracted to the university from more than 155 countries globally – a diversity that contributes to a lively and welcoming community. QS also ranks London as the no.1 city in the UK to be a student; no.3 in the world based on desirability, academic standards, job prospects and affordability (2015).

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