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The University of Southampton
Social Statistics and DemographyPart of Economic, Social & Political Science

Bradley Tombleson BSc Population and Geography

2017 Graduate

Bradley Tombleson's Photo

Flexibility in the course meant that contemporary global affairs – such as the EU refugee crisis, Ebola and Zika outbreaks, and the re-emergence of the Mexico City Policy – featured in many modules. This made Population and Geography both captivating and relevant.

Why did you choose to come and study at Southampton?

I chose to study at Southampton for many reasons. First, my degree programme is the only one of its kind in the country; it offers the perfect balance between geography and demography. The flexibility of my course was another priority for me. The ability to tailor my degree to (almost) entirely suit my interests was impressive.

Second, being part of the prestigious Russell Group means that teaching is led by contemporary and often ground-breaking research, and this was apparent even before I joined (and it certainly made a huge difference to my learning experience and the quality of my degree).

Also, the range of extra-curricular opportunities offered by Southampton was fantastic. From university employment and volunteering, to frequent subject-specific events and guest lectures, to various travel-opportunities such as summer schools, fieldtrips and studying abroad.

What have you enjoyed most about your course?

The exceptionally high-quality teaching and close-knit community of staff and students. Staff will frequently go out of their way to ensure that everyone has a sound understanding of course content. The research-led teaching meant that courses were often directly relevant to contemporary global affairs, and as students, we were sometimes the first to set eyes on high-profile publications. Flexibility in the curriculum meant that contemporary global affairs – such as the EU refugee crisis, Ebola and Zika outbreaks, and the re-emergence of the Mexico City Policy – featured in many courses. This helped make Population and Geography both captivating and relevant.

Of course, the opportunity to apply my learning on a fieldtrip to Ghana was the greatest highlight of all. An incredible amount was learnt in such a short space of time, both technical (interviewing, data collection and analysis) and transferable skills (intercultural communication, teamwork, rapport-building, and tact and discretion).

What have been your Southampton highlights?

The highlight for me, and for most of my colleagues, has to be the fieldtrip to Ghana. Learning to adapt to and appreciate an entirely different culture, was both incredibly valuable and humbling. The fieldtrip not only presented an opportunity to test our knowledge and skills but to strengthen the bonds between us as friends and colleagues.

Being involved in the Students’ Union was undoubtedly a highlight of my degree. It was, in many ways, just as great a journey as my degree itself. Learning to manage teams, evaluate and improve university policy, and present high-quality reports. As a result of our team efforts, we were awarded the Best Academic Representation Team of 2015. I was also thrilled to be presented with the award for Best Academic Representative in 2016.

How has your time at Southampton helped you to grow as a person?

Population and Geography excels in delivering depth and breadth of technical skills. As a graduate of this programme, I am now adept at applying geographic skills such as GIS; statistical analysis skills including SPSS; and demographic skills related to life tables, cohort component models, and migration estimations.

I have become familiar with numerous subject-specific computer applications (e.g. SPSS, STATA, ArcGIS, SPSS and NVivo). In fact, I started my undergraduate journey with a strong dislike for statistics, having gained a grade C for GCSE mathematics and not touched the subject since! Now, having just completed a quantitative (numerical data-based) dissertation, I am a confident statistician!

What opportunities has studying at Southampton provided you with?

Travelling has also been a key feature of my degree. In my first year I was fortunate enough to visit India, to conduct a voluntary social enterprise project with the aim of empowering women through safer communities. In my second year I visited Ghana to conduct fieldwork and gain experience applying my knowledge in a real-world context. Also in my second year I went to China as part of an economics summer school, and to deliver a presentation to a research centre in Beijing. I spent half of my final year in Canada, on a semester exchange with the University of Western Ontario.

Finally, this leads me to the present day: I am a Government Social Research intern this summer with Defra (the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

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