February 22, 2012, by Claire

A day in the Life of a Geographer…. Becki Quigley

So, what do Geographer students actually do? Allow me to begin by telling you what we DON’T do. Contrary to popular belief we DON’T spend three hard years at University being taught how to keep inside the lines with our trusty Crayola. We DON’T know where every single country is on a map of the world and we DON’T know the capital city of every country (like our friends expect us to during the Geography round of the pub quiz).

 We are Geographers- students of the earth and in the three fascinating years I have spent at Nottingham I have learnt about all manner of things. From the Geographies of fashion to the Geographies of football; the Geographies of violence to the Geographies of viruses; the Geographies of surveillance to …a sloth. Yes. A sloth. (Dr Lavers’ biogeographical account of  the creature in the second year ‘Patterns of Life’ Module is quite a treat!). In what other subject could you find such academic diversity and charm?

This is exactly why Geography matters, it offers an understanding of the world, its processes and its people and an explanation for the way in which we participate with such phenomena. It is a living, breathing subject, constantly adapting itself to change, it’s more than a subject- it’s an adventure! 

Life as third year Geography undergraduate is significantly harder than most like to think and with the dreaded dissertation deadline day fast approaching, times are harder than ever. With only 4 weeks to D-Day ‘dissertation’ is the word pursing the lips of every third year Geographer in the school and mine has been the particular focus of my week. This week I attended my final dissertation meeting with my supervisor, Professor Mike Heffernan whose academic guidance and intellectual wisdom have been invaluable to my research. My meeting primarily consisted of Mike and I talking football- not because we are both fans but because this is the focus of my dissertation; the cultural Geography of the Toon Army and Newcastle United Fans. Agreed, not the most traditional Geography dissertation topic but one which I believe exemplifies the true scope of what we can truly class as being ‘Geography’. In-between lectures I have been working on the concluding chapters of my research and have kept busy transcribing interviews and focus groups from my research, something which is proving to be harder task than I first envisaged due to the burly Geordie accent of most of my respondents!

Wednesday was a particularly exciting day for me as I delivered a speech to prospective students during the Geography Department’s UCAS open day. I relish the opportunity to offer advice and guidance to future students as I can remember how nerve-racking the whole experience can be, it seems all but two minutes since I was the anxious year 13 pupil sat in A48 listening intently to the words of the students 3 years ago.


What a spread!


With the second semester well under way it was time for the Geography Society to meet and discuss our plans for the coming months. The committee and I laid out a semester plan full of sporting, academic and social events for the coming weeks including a guest speaker from the FairTrade Foundation; a corporation we are proudly to be associated with through our status as a FairTrade University. The committee were busy cooking and baking ready for our second bake sale in aid of UNICEF- the Society’s featured charity, we raised £120 through the sale of cakes, cookies, muffins and rocky roads and discovered certain members of the department have a very sweet tooth indeed! Planning for our famous, end of year ball- the Globall is progressing nicely, this year is going to be bigger and better than ever and tickets will go on sale next week online (shameful advertising…)!

This week I also took a trip into the city with a course mate from the Geographies of Violence module to attend an exhibition at the Nottingham Contemporary. The project: Decolonizing Architecture/Art Residency (DAAR) is an art and architecture collective set up by Alessandro Petti, Sandi Hilal and Eyal Weizman, based in Palestine. Their work is a critical examination of the role played by architecture in the occupation of the Palestinian territories and imagines the “decolonization” of Palestine through new uses for oppressive Israeli infrastructure. This complemented the module perfectly and was of great use, particularly when thinking about how political participation can be organised for a partially exiled and geographically dispersed society. It really made for a pleasant change from reading a journal article or book on such matters!

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