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First year geographers explore London in department walking tours

First year students at UCL Geography were given a chance to see London from a variety of new perspectives as the department ran a series of walking tours led by academic staff as part of induction week.

First year geographers explore London in department walking tours

18 October 2021

The tours covered a multitude of areas and themes relating to the research and teaching expertise of each tour leader.

Pushpa Arabindoo and Andrew Harris led ‘Exploring King’s Cross: Landscapes of Post-industrial London’.  They explored and discussed how this area, composed of Victorian ‘railway lands’ with many buildings and warehouses semi-abandoned by the end of the 20th century, has been transformed into a new upmarket residential, retail and commercial destination.

Pushpa spoke about the energy landscapes of King’s Cross and the connections to sessions on her 3rd year module Geographies of Infrastructure (GEOG0065). Andrew emphasised how King’s Cross’s redevelopment offers important perspectives on recent social change and gentrification in the London boroughs of Islington and Camden - examined further in the 1st year ‘Geographies in the Field II’ (GEOG0014) module he co-convenes.

Professor Jonathan Holmes and Professor Viv Jones led ‘Urban Greenery and Air Quality’, looking at issues of air pollution sources, monitoring and policies in Camden (relating to GEOG0014) and the role of green spaces in the London environment.

Professor Jason Dittmer led “City of Westminster: landscapes of power and resistance”, looking at protest and state power in Trafalgar Square, diplomacy at 10 Downing Street and legacies of colonialism at the FCDO Main Building.

Dr Tatiana Thieme and Fabien Cante led ‘World city, changing neighbourhood: A tour of Elephant & Castle’. On the tour, students were invited to consider how migration and multiculture shape local high streets like the Walworth Road, and how neighbourhood cohabitation is framed by the kinds of housing available in the area.

Tatiana and Fabien talked about the meaning and changing fortunes of social housing, especially in the face of contemporary real estate investments. Overall, they pondered how different facets of London becoming a “world city” are in tension with each other, and the different ways we as geographers can learn about neighbourhood change – from street-level observation to conversations with local people.

The tour anticipates the field activities students will do as part of the GEOG0013 “urban project,” and some of the themes they will delve into in GEOG0023GEOG0028GEOG0039 and GEOG0064.

Dr James Kneale and Seth Gustafson led 'Cheap and lively: London’s historical natures (Billingsgate, Smithfield, Holborn), covering urban environmental history, markets, and the Thames, and London’s connections to places near and far.


First year geographers explore London in department walking tours


Students on walking tour on the banks of the Thames