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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Emily Robertson BA Geography , 2018

Assistant Quantity Surveyor at Woodley Coles

Emily Robertson's Photo

I had so many highlights from Southampton that made it memorable for me and the best three years of my life so far. The fieldtrips to Amsterdam and Berlin were highlights as I love to travel and doing that with such a large group of people was something I hadn’t done before.

Why did you choose to come and study at Southampton?

I chose to study my degree at Southampton for various reasons, including their academic accolades and prestige as a Russell Group University but also due to the flexible nature of the Geography courses within the department that were on offer. The University was a reachable distance to home, which was important to me but also meant I would get a taste of living in a student city which I’d never done before; having moved from a small town.

All the members of staff and students at the open day made me feel so welcome and excited about the prospect of studying Geography at the uni. This was combined with the huge number of societies, part time work opportunities, field trips and student support services that I found out about; hence I put Southampton as my first choice.

What was it like studying here?

Naturally, the initial move I found daunting as I’d never lived on my own or away from home before. This transition I think is sometimes overlooked by parents, prospective students and university staff as you start your course. The support we received from a range of Geography staff members when my cohort joined as first year was second to none. We were taught skills that would be useful for the remaining years at university but also given time to reflect on the progress we had made as individuals embarking on our three year journey to become Geography Graduates.

I always loved the campus at Southampton as wherever I was living, it always gave me a solid base, for lectures, work, library time, gym – I had a central point to base myself around rather than being scattered across the whole city.

Although they want you to perform academically, there is also a push for you to make life long friends, try new things and go beyond the boundaries that you would be restricted by at home. The atmosphere around campus was always lively, other than during exam time which is sometimes when we all get a shock that we were enjoying ourselves far too much. However, the way assignments are structured throughout the year in Geography helps you to manage your work load and you are also encouraged to seek help if you experience times of stress.

What were your Southampton ‘highlights’ (best experiences)?

I had so many highlights from Southampton that made it memorable for me and the best three years of my life so far. The fieldtrips to Amsterdam and Berlin were highlights as I love to travel and doing that with such a large group of people was something I hadn’t done before.

I loved the university gym and the classes that it offered which were always full of students.

The nightlife in Southampton is perfect for a student! It’s affordable, varied and there is an abundance of events throughout the venues in the city which were so enjoyable.

The flexible work opportunities I had, both as a Student Ambassador and Support Staff worker at the Students Union kept me afloat throughout my degree but I also made amazing friends.

I was part of Halls Committee in first year and Graduation Ball Committee in my final year. These allowed me to plan exciting events, get an insight into the functionality of the university on a different level and have a say in the decisions that were being made for student accommodation and for our final farewell celebration which was a huge success.

To receive my final results slip at the end of Third Year and find out I had achieved a First Class Degree was the best and probably my proudest moment.

I found my dissertation to be hard work, perhaps because I made it a bit too complex at first. However, the support of two members of staff helped me manage the workload and refine my findings, (being Dianna Smith and Nathaniel Lewis). I was so appreciative of their time and support and was over the moon to receive the Florence Miller Dissertation Award and win the Royal Geographical Society Geographies of Health and Wellbeing National Dissertation Prize.

What did you enjoy most about your course?

Studying Geography gave me everything I wanted as an A-Level student who didn’t know what career they wanted to embark on. The diversity in topics, staff members and disciplines was incredible and gave me the opportunity to explore and learn about the world in all sorts of ways, from health geography to economics, global warming to the built environment – everything was at your fingertips really which gave me a sense of freedom that I longed for in my course.

The fieldtrips that are offered is something you associate with Geography at school and lots of other universities do the same, however many other courses do not get this luxury. It built bonds between us on the course that were only possible through going on a trip like that.

I had the opportunity to visit Amsterdam in Second year, where we were taught skills of analysis and academic research that we could use for our dissertations in third year. I also went to Berlin on a separate optional module in third year, which focused on a range of topics such as Memorialisation in the City. These were both extremely fun and memorable for me which helped bring research to the forefront of our course.

Did you have the opportunity to study modules outside of your core subject area?

I studied a Minor in Sustainability alongside my Geography degree. This is one of the flexible options that the University offers for you to diversify your course even further across a range of disciplines other than your subject area. I had the opportunity to study modules from Demography and Economics which I really enjoyed, subject to them fitting in with my original timetable.

What are your aspirations for the future? How has your degree assisted with your ambitions?

When growing up, my aspiration was always to study Geography at a Russell Group University and it was everything I hoped it would be.

The degree opened my eyes to lots of different career paths but I still couldn’t decide what was the best fit for me as an individual. I have always wanted a career in something related to the built environment which my degree definitely helped with and hopefully I am now making those steps in the right direction.

What have you been doing since graduation? Please tell us a bit about it.

Since leaving Southampton and mourning university life, I took the jump straight after my last deadline and moved to London to start a Graduate Recruitment position in the Property and Construction industry. Having worked there for 7 months, I have now made the decision to become a Quantity Surveyor – which is what I was recruiting for. I’ve learnt about the industry, the nature of the job, the different companies you can work for and the route into the profession which really appealed to me away from recruiting for those professionals.

I have managed to secure an Assistant Position in a consultancy nearer home that are sponsoring my Distance Learning Masters Course in Quantity Surveying whilst working alongside my studies. I’m excited for my new chapter to become a Surveyor with the long-term goal of becoming a Member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.


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