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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  Study  /  Undergraduate  /  Undergraduate Applications 2017-18

Undergraduate Applications 2017-18


October 2017

Hello there,

So this part of our site is for those of you who are currently thinking of coming to join us as undergraduates in 2018. We’ve an excellent group of 130 or so new first years who are currently bedding down into University life and getting their heads around all the new skills that they’ll be developing with us. They seem pretty excited about the prospect in the below group photo, and we think they are quite right to be so!

We are hoping to recruit a similar number of excellent young scholars to join us again next year. With that in mind, the idea behind this section of the site is that, over the course of the year, I'll post some bits and pieces that could help you make up your mind about us. It’s a big decision deciding what and where to study, after all.

Open Days

First up, I should mention our open days. If you apply to us and you look like an excellent candidate for UCL Geography, we'll probably invite you to one of our open days (well afternoons, really). You should definitely come. We invite all those candidates who look like they could fit in well here to come and see us for an afternoon. The aim of these events is to give you a flavour of our course, our ethos, and our approach. You'll get to meet some of our staff and current students, you'll be taken on a short tour of our very nice Gower street campus and you'll also get to take part in some different activities linked to the kind of research that we do here.

Meet your professors

I'll also be posting some videos. In these, you'll hear our staff talking about what they do in their research and how that feeds through into their teaching. I've chosen some of the guys you'll be working with in your first year of study with us because I thought it would be nice for you to hear from them first. Here's two to get us started.

In the below, we have Helen Bennion. Helen will be taking you on the Catalonia Field-class (see the above obligatory group photo of the first year group in the sun) in the first term of your studies with us. Everyone goes on this. The aim is for the whole year group to have a good time getting to know each other and to start testing testing out a range of advanced geography techniques in Barcelona and Sitges). In the below, she talks about what she does in her research and how she teaches. She's collected and analysed data from lakes all around the world - pretty interesting stuff that’s pretty important for understanding environmental change too.

Next up we have James Kneale who would be involved with the London section of the ‘Geography in the Field’ course you’d take. In that, you'll start to explore the ways in which geographers have sought to understand global cities such as ours. The fact that UCL is right in the heart of things is something we are increasingly putting centre stage in our undergraduate teaching because London is such an interesting place in which to explore how geographers can respond to global challenges such as climate change, urbanization, human wellbeing and many others. James has contributed to that by looking at how, why, and where people drink alcohol in the city and why that has changed through history. You might not initially think of this as traditional 'geography' - but our geographers do very many things and his geographical perspective has something quite valuable to say to current public health policies.

More from me as the admissions cycle goes along.

Best wishes,

Russell Hitchings (Admissions Tutor)

December 2017

So we've now had the first of our open day afternoons. Thanks to all of you who came along - it was a pretty full house. The staff and students said they had a good time meeting those of you who came. Hopefully those who attended also got a pretty good sense of what we are all about in Geography here at UCL.

Since my last update we've also found out that we've won another dissertation prize (these are awarded for the best undergraduate dissertation each year in different areas of geography). Holly Campbell won the Economic Geography Research Group’s Undergraduate Dissertation Award for 2016-17 with her dissertation on ‘Moments of progress: An exploration of the interaction between female enterprise and patriarchal norms in Selçuk, Turkey’. It's pretty amazing the diversity of things you can end up doing if you study geography here and pleasing to see that we are producing some of the very best undergraduate work across all areas of the discipline.

On that matter, last year we decided to establish a 'dissertation images' competition. The idea for this was to celebrate the variety of really interesting things that our finalists end up focusing on in their time with us. This year we had another crop of excellent entries. You can see the results for that here:

Dissertation Images Competition 2017

Finally I thought I'd introduce you to two more of our academics. Below we have Caroline Bressey, one of our 'historical geographers', talking about the work shes does on the 'Black Presence' in British history. For some academics, 'geography' all about how different cultural groups come to think about other groups and what that means for how we deal with pressing issues like contemporary racism. Caroline's research is part of this agenda. She takes it forward by looking at how that has featured in the way in which the history of London is presented - how public discourse has often claimed that there were no Black people here at certain points in the past, but also how, were we only to make the effort to look for them, this clearly wasn't the case.

Turning to the physical side of geography, there's Jonathan Holmes who currently teaches environmental geography to the first years, amongst other things. Here he talks about how he goes about collecting his data from different sites around the world and how he draws on this data, and his wider research work, in his teaching.


More from me as the cycle goes on but, for the moment, have a good Christmas!

Russell Hitchings (Admissions Tutor)


February 2018

Hi again,

So we are now about half-way through our series of open days when you guys get to come to visit our department and get a flavour of what it might be like to study with us. Here in UCL Geography we've had a healthy number of applicants this year again with over 700 applying to join us in September. About 150 of those to whom we've made offers have now come to visit us. It's been fun to meet you all.

At this point I thought I'd draw your attention to our geography blog because we've had some interesting entries recently from students who have gone on to do some impressive things after their time with us. So do have a look at that. The link is here:

UCL Geography Blog

I also think now would probably be a good time to post the last of our 'Meet the Geographers' videos that I've been intermittently posting here over the course of the recruitment cycle. This time we have two women who have been in the department for a number of years now and who have done some really excellent work in terms of both their research and our undergraduate teaching.

First up, we have Ann Varley who is currently in charge of the first year course you'll take that prepares you for doing University level research and writing (Writing and Analysis in Geography). She oversees the 'tutorial system' in which you'll meet with one of our academics every week in a group of four or five to make sure you are getting into really good habits of advanced study. Here she talks about why she has become interested in ideas what constitutes a 'home' in Mexico and why being able to communicate well is so important in geography research:

And finally we have Claire Dwyer. Claire is interested in the experience of migration and on how we study the links between places. She will also be teaching you on the first year 'Ideas in Geography' course. Here she gives us a flavour of her current research on different faith communities in the suburbs of London and tells us why being a geographer allows her to examine this topic in a really effective way.

Russell Hitchings (Admissions Tutor)

April 2018

So we are coming towards the end of this year's recruitment cycle now. Here in UCL Geography we've again had a healthy number of applicants this year, with about 700 prospective students applying to join us in September. We've also done all of our 'offer holder' Open Days, with about 250 of you visiting us so far. It's been nice to meet you all.

We also recently got the results in from the QS University rankings for subject area. This year we are holding strong in the top ten as the 8th Best University in the world to study Geography. Good to see that we are still a dominant force in terms of our research outputs and how employers view us. More details on that here:

QS University rankings

Before I sign off, I'll give you the final two of our 'meet the geographers' videos. In the next one, we have Professor Jason Dittmer, who is interested in how 'geopolitical ideas' (ideas people have about those from other countries, and relationships between different countries more generally) are shaped through everyday processes, such as reading comic books, watching Action movies or the practical work of diplomats - pretty relevant stuff in our post Brexit times, and things he'll be working with some of you on if you go on his third year fieldclass. Here he talks about his work and the teaching he might do with you:

Then there's Richard Taylor who has done lots of work on water issues in Africa. In this work he asks how might an increasingly scarce resource be managed to positive effect and what kinds of methods can we, as academics draw on, to help encourage sustainable livelihoods in difficult conditions? Here he talks about the work he has done over the years on that topic and how that informs his work with students:

That's it from me now. If you do have questions do contact us on and we'll do our best to answer any questions. Otherwise we look forward to welcoming many of you in September. Good luck with revision and exams in the meantime.

Russell Hitchings (Admissions Tutor)