Having chosen your subject area and whittled your university choices down to five, it’s now time to give some serious thought towards which options will become your firm and insurance choices. At this stage I’d suggest you really need to establish exactly what it is that makes each of your options different from one another. To try and help you do this I’ve come up with three ‘unique selling points’ (USPs) for studying geography/environment at the University of York.
My first USP is that our department has a smaller student intake than many other competing geography departments at other universities. I find this makes for a far more friendly and personal university experience especially when it comes to interacting in lectures and seminars, making friends on the course and getting involved with the department. Also, with smaller classes, lecturers are keen to engage with their students: learning your name, answering your questions and gathering your feedback on their modules. I have certainly found that the stereotype of disengaged lecturers preoccupied with their own research to be non-existent! However, for me, the best aspect of having a smaller department is that you get to know absolutely everyone on your course – something you will really appreciate when it comes to fieldwork and group projects!
My second USP is that our department is an environment department rather than a geography department. This means it offers more unique degree streams like Environment, Ecology and Economics (EEE) and Environmental Science in addition to BA and BSc Geography. Equally, it means that the geography degree programmes have an environmental and sustainability focus which could help them stand out from other, more conventional geography degrees when it comes to employment. With a common interest in the environment, the department is also hugely interdisciplinary with experts from a range of fields from environmental science to social science to economics.
My third and final USP is simply the quality of our department’s facilities! In January 2016 we moved into a brand new, state of the art £12.5 million building which hosts many of our lecture and seminar rooms, all of the staff offices, labs (if you are a BSc student) and the Stockholm Environment Institute (an independent research institute specialising in local and global sustainability issues – https://sei-international.org/). Throughout your degree you will get opportunity to hear from researchers from the SEI. Finally, the department is also expanding; two new geography lecturers joined the department in September to offer brand new modules for the Human Geography and EEE programmes.