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Green London fieldwork week – your first official week of study

As a geographer or environmental scientist you all already know how important fieldwork is to our research. At QMUL your first official week of learning involves a LOT of fieldwork – talk about throwing you in the deep end! The Green London fieldwork week is a fantastic way of exploring the city of your university as well as learning about your fellow group members. This post is designed to be your guide in helping you make the most of your week.

Aims of the Green London fieldwork week are:

  • to inspire ideas and expose you to various research methods;
  • to enable you to understand how humans and non-humans co-exist in green and urban spaces.

Here is what’s expected of you:

During this week, you will need to be present and punctual to all of your fieldwork locations. Your fieldwork is conducted in small groups.

  • Tip: Something that would benefit you greatly is to look for your fellow group members early on. You can shout out your group letter after the Green London introductory lecture and seek out your fellow group members (something I was way too shy to do!) or, for all of you who (like me) prefer a quieter approach, email the list of names you see in your information booklet. Regardless of how you find one another, make sure you exchange numbers and create some sort of group (commonly done through ‘whatsapp’). This way you can instantly contact each other and since you’ll be working with one another a lot – communication is paramount!
  • Tip: Whether you are new to London or not, plan your journey! Use the TfL website (Transport for London) or Google maps to help you get around and maintain punctuality.

You’ll also be given a list of questions to keep in mind when looking at the different locations you’re sent to, for example: “What sort of green and blue spaces and forms of biodiversity exist in London?”; “What is the value of ‘nature’ in the city?” and “How do green spaces and forms of biodiversity vary in different boroughs?”

  • Tip: Make sure you carry a small notebook with you to jot down anything and everything that’s relevant – this will be of great benefit to you when you start your assignment.
  • Tip: Take pictures of anything that appears relevant – this will be vital for your presentations.

The ultimate expectation of you is to work hard and absorb as much information as you can – this will surely be an eye opening and informative week, enjoy it!

Activities

There are three principle activities during the week:

  1. Being out and about: undertaking thematic walking tours and site visits
  2. Presentations from guest speakers
  3. Small group research tasks

You will be given the timetable at the beginning of the week. This will include for example a talk from your biodiversity officer, looking at an art exhibition before you engage in the City of London walks, as well the use of an app for looking at green spaces. 

There will also be an extra day of being out and about recording environmental information and activity along London canals in association with the London branch of the Canal and River Trust.

Presentations

Your final discussion and presentations will take place on the Friday in the Ecology Pavilion in Mile End Park. Your presentation is created in the same groups that you conduct your fieldwork research in. We had to create a three-minute presentation. It required us to take our photographs and transform them into skitch images. Skitch is a programme you’ll be taught how to use, essentially it allows you to add annotations to your images. Your presentation will also consist of research – you’ll be given specific websites to collate data from. The last component is to produce verbal commentary to compliment your presentation slides.

Assessment

When it comes to your assessment, you’ll be given questions relevant to all of the fieldwork and research you’ve undertaken. My questions were: “In what ways do the City of London and Tower Hamlets boroughs differ in terms of green space and biodiversity? What are the challenges of making space for nature in these two boroughs, and what is the value of green space for people in each borough?”

Everything you need to do to ace it:

  • Collate all of the research you’ve gathered over the previous week, this includes all of the pictures you’ve taken, the notes you’ve taken from guest speakers, and the data you’ve found upon producing your presentations.
  • Look at your question and break it down, for my question (mentioned above), I noted everything the question was asking me. I needed to explicitly outline the differences between boroughs, the challenges they faced in making space for nature and the value of green space for people within the respected boroughs.
  • I went through my notes and associated them with relevant aspects of the question – this helped me structure my essay in the same flow of the question.
  • Use skitch images or any other photos you’ve taken along with your text, remember this assessment is report style, using imagery with help articulate all that you’ve learnt/collated. When using images explicitly outline their relevance to the rest of your essay and research as a whole.
  • Organise your time, gather a good amount of research pre-writing your essay and contact your lecturer/tutor if you face any difficulties during the process.

Hope this helped, happy essay-writing!

Hamida Khanom (Geography BA, class of 2019)

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