School of Geography

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The School of Geography at Queen Mary University of London

A reputation 110 years in the making
Our School, established in 1894, has an excellent reputation for teaching and research across human and physical geography as well as environmental science. Ranked fifth in the UK for the quality of our research outputs (REF 2014) and top in London for our undergraduate programmes (Guardian University Guide 2015), students and researchers work side by side in a strong, supportive and forward-thinking department. Our home in east London, positioned between the historic City of London and the ever-changing East End, the area’s histories and ongoing transformations make Mile End an inspiring place in which to live, study and work. 

We collaborate with a wide range of local organisations, such as Citizens UK, V&A Museum of Childhood, Geffrye Museum of the Home, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), Natural History Museum and 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 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. Field work 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, South Africa, the Florida Everglades and Mumbai, India.

The School of Geography at QMUL ranks consistently highly in university league tables and returns strong scores on the National Student Survey. Our current rankings include:

  • Top in London for geography and environmental studies (Guardian University Guide 2015); 14th nationally.
  • 88-93 per cent satisfaction overall (National Student Survey 2014)
  • 96 per cent of students were in work or further study six months after graduation; 75 per cent at graduate level (DLHE Survey 2013)
  • 20th nationally for geography and environmental science (Times and Sunday Times University League Table 2015); top in London for research; 3rd in London overall
  • 26th nationally for geography and environmental science (Complete University Guide 2015); 2nd in London for overall student satisfaction
  • 100 per cent score for ‘quality of teaching and learning’, ‘skills and personal development’ and ‘career and professional development’ (Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2013); 93 per cent for ‘overall experience’.

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 currently have 70 PhD students working on a range of research topics, and 48 masters students (Dec 2014). 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.

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.

Please don't hesitate to contact us if there is anything further that you wish to know about the School.

Alison Blunt Professor of Geography and Head of School


Queen Mary University of London
Queen Mary University of London is one of the UK’s leading research-focused higher education institutions. With almost 18,000 students, 4,000 staff and an annual turnover of £300m, it is one of the biggest University of London colleges. It 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 2014-15); 98th in the world (QS World University rankings 2014-15 – a rise of almost 50 places in two years).

Based in a creative and culturally diverse area of east London, Queen Mary is the only London university able to offer a residential campus. Students and staff are attracted to the university from more than 150 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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