Learning and Living at Birmingham

Geography students from the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences talk about learning and living at the University of Birmingham.

Title: Our Geography students talk about Learning and Living at Birmingham

Duration: 4.09 mins 

Louise: I think it’s really good to have a broad variety of teaching styles on offer as people like to learn in different ways.

Jadine: You’ve got a range right from 150 students in a classroom down to three or four of you in one group.

Nicola: I’ve had workshops. So, given instructions and then expected to work my way through them and use the computers in a smaller environment.

Sam: You also get computer cluster opportunity as well, which is time to work on your modelling and some statistics involved.

Claire: As well as small group tutorials where there’s about six of us and right from day one in the first year you meet weekly or fortnightly with your tutor.

Louise: Each teaching style offers a different, sort of, way of understanding. So lecturers often give you the broad information on the topic whereas when you go into seminars groups it gives you the options to ask questions and delve further into the different aspects of your interest or have a wider discussion about it.

Jack: You can sit in lectures and you can make notes on your computer but, if it’s all theoretical, sometimes you really need to go out into the field itself and to see those concepts in action.

Catherine: The geography fieldtrips are an amazing experience. Anyone that’s done geography at A level knows that the fieldtrips are good.  They help enhance your learning.

Sam: In the first year the field trip is very early on in the year, so you get to meet lots of people that you wouldn’t normally do in a lecture environment.

Louise: We had a UK-based field trip in first year. I went to Berlin last year and I’ve also had the opportunity to go to Ghana. And with the Kinvig geography Society I’ve been to Amsterdam as well.

Jack: I really enjoyed going to Berlin. It was just amazing because we not only got to experience the different sites of the city and the different types of geography within Berlin, but we experienced the whole culture and new research methods, and got to build on the research expertise of the different members of staff that were there.

Jadine: And when we went to Malta it allowed us to try and practice the kind of ways that we’d go out and do our research before we started to think about our dissertation.

Claire: I remember in second year one of our projects was to go to Lickey Hills and we hand to collect soil samples, and then the next week we were in the lab, with our lab coats on testing the soil. So it’s a very, very practical course and I think that really helps you put theory into practice.

Jack: We had a hot air balloon debate where we would switch over and debate against each other and there would be a winner at the end. And it was just the innovative techniques of learning that I really enjoyed at Birmingham. I did actually win it so ‘Hooray’ [laughs].

Louise: I am a really strong believer that university is not just about studying your subject but it’s also a life experience as well. And, you know, getting involved in all the extra-curricular activities on offer and the societies is a really, really important thing to do in your time here.

Catherine: So whatever you join it’s going to be a good experience.

Nicola: I’m a member of the Kinvig geography Society. Every year they organise a trip abroad for all the students.

Jadine: You can do sports in Kinvig. You can be student rep, you can be student ambassador, and that’s all to do with geography. So it’s just about widening the prospects of what geography actually is for you and not just simply getting a degree.

Nicola: As the second biggest city in the UK, Birmingham’s fantastic to live in. It’s got such a big student population, there’s something for everyone in the city.

Claire: From shopping to restaurants to the venues and the events that we get here. Everything comes to Birmingham.

Catherine: People don’t see it as a beautiful English city but when you come here it’s amazing, the architecture’s amazing and I just fell in love with it.

Claire: It’s very, very well connected with trains and it’s easy to get home or to go around the country and visit friends and family.

Louise: The Vale is an absolutely lovely place to live. All the halls of residence there are situated round a lake which doesn’t make you feel you’re in the centre of a city at all.

Jack: Come in with an open mind, ready to broaden your horizons, build on things that you are excited by and learn things that you might not have even known about before you came.

Catherine: Everyone I know that does Geography here loves it. It is such a good experience. Birmingham as a University is incredible. There’s so much to offer.

Claire: Come and see Birmingham. Come to the Open Day. Experience the campus. Speak to the lecturers. I mean it really does just sell itself.