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Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Lucy Cook BSc Geology with Physical Geography with a Year in Employment, 2019

Lucy Cook's Photo

The highlights have definitely got to be the field trips where you apply all the knowledge you’ve learned in your lectures and lab sessions. Geology students get to know each other very well very quickly because you spend long days together, in the field or stuck in a caravan, in all weathers. We started off in Tenby in Wales and also spent time mapping in Ingleton in Yorkshire.

Why did you want to study at the University of Southampton?

First of all, I was enthusiastic about studying the combination of Geology and Geography but, when I came to visit, I was blown away by the impressive campuses at Highfield and particularly the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) right by the waterfront. While I was there for my interview I saw the view from the café in the early evening with the lights sparkling over the dock and I had a feeling I’d be very happy there.

What have been the highlights of your first two years?

The highlights have definitely got to be the field trips where you apply all the knowledge you’ve learned in your lectures and lab sessions. Geology students get to know each other very well very quickly because you spend long days together, in the field or stuck in a caravan, in all weathers. We started off in Tenby in Wales and also spent time mapping in Ingleton in Yorkshire.

Our big second year field trip was to southern Spain where we explored a variety of sedimentary geology on different sites in just over a week. It was also memorable because of the weather as torrential rain caused flash flooding in the river valleys we were supposed to be mapping in, causing a slightly altered schedule.  I’m really loving the degree. The lecturers are excellent, they’re very experienced in their subjects and really care about their students and want us to do well.

Tell us more about your placement

I spent nine months working with a small team at a consultancy in Exeter called Red Rock Geoscience. Everyone was very friendly and welcomed me and I learned a lot. The work was varied and practical with half my time spent on site and half back in the office.  I also enjoyed working with experienced engineers, assisting with site investigations where analysing and classifying soil samples utilised my geographical skills. The chance to work outdoors and see stunning parts of the south west as part of my day-to-day really made the job rewarding.   I strongly advise any student to seriously consider doing a placement year, it’s one of the best things you could do as part of your degree. It will give you a real insight into the world of work and industrial experience will help you decide what kind of career you want after graduation.

You won an award for your achievements in your placement?

While I was at Red Rock, they invested in a new Geographic Information System (GIS) for managing, analysing and presenting data. Although this was new to me, I had worked on similar systems at Southampton and was able to help them get the most out of it.

I won the Employability Excellence Award for ‘Significant Contribution’. It was organised by the University’s Careers and Employability Service to recognise student achievements over the last year.

What are you doing now?

I’m back at NOC for my final year and will be graduating next summer.

My placement has convinced me that I’d like a career in consultancy but I haven’t decided yet whether to try to get a job straightaway or look at doing a Masters in geotechnical engineering to improve my specialist knowledge.

I’ve also got involved in the charity Geology for Global Development. It inspires geologists to support sustainable development by using our skills to tackle challenges such as water security and resource management.

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Exploring the geology in the Peak District
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Tenby Fieldtrip, 2017
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Ingleton, Yorkshire: One of the may sheep encountered during fieldwork, 2017
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Dissertation Mapping trip: Isle of Skye, June 2017
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Massive lenticular sandstone beds in cliffs (mapping partner for scale), Isle of Skye, June 2017
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YiE placement with Red Rock Geo: Collecting soil samples from a trial pit, November 2017
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Dissertation mapping trip, Oban, Scotland: Finding huge boulder-sized conglomerate clasts (notebook for scale), July 2018
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