Geographer graduates in demand
Claims geographers are among the most employable university graduates have been supported by the leader of a newly launched course in Cumbria.
The Royal Geographical Society has produced information on the range of careers open to successful graduates.
The University of Cumbria’s BSc (Hons) Geography boasts a classroom in the foothills of the kind of surroundings that have inspired geographers for decades. Dr Lois Mansfield leads the forestry, conservation and geography faculty, part of the university’s department of science, natural resources and outdoor studies.
“That’s the great beauty of the Ambleside campus – we can go straight outside, collect the data and come straight back into the lab and it’s within the context of the theory that they’re being taught in class,” Dr Mansfield said, speaking as the remnants of Storm Caroline rattled the buildings within site of the Fairfield Round, one of Cumbria’s iconic walking routes. “We do practical work as we go along rather than at the end of the year and while we do a lot of fieldwork during term time we have a residential field trip in the final year where we go to an international destination and the students don’t have to pay.”
First year Poppy Wilkinson from Workington is among students.
“Geography was the subject area I enjoyed the most at school and I wanted to carry on. At the moment I’m enjoying it – it’s as good as I thought it would be and it’s very hands on. Long term I want to get into flooding because our town is often getting flooded so I’ve seen first-hand what it does.”
First year outdoor adventure students also joined a class project to analyse soil samples collected from the slopes of Blencathra.
“It’s very useful because it shows how outdoor activities affect the land and how we can improve and maintain it,” Luke Harris from Darlington said.
The range of landscapes available to students is vast; future field trips will see them embark on a study of land around England’s highest mountain and the country’s longest lake – both within easy reach of the Ambleside campus.
“We’re analysing samples to look at the properties of soil to see how it varies downslope,” Dr Mansfield explained. “It is one of the most important things for students to grasp because if we can understand soil we can understand vegetation and the two are related to challenges like flooding and flood management concepts like woodland planting.”
The range of career options open to students is wide; from resource management to working as national park rangers, nature interpretation for children or working in outdoor centres. There are also more applied routes into logistics and town planning. With a growing interest in the future environment and how best to reduce the effects of weather witnessed in Cumbria and across the north, there’s optimism that the first graduates from this new course will be in demand.
“The great thing about a geography degree is it gives you breadth and depth and geographers are one of the most sought after graduates from degree programmes by employers,” Dr Mansfield said.
Pictured: Students at work in labs within sight of the hills.