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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  Study  /  Undergraduate  /  Dissertation Images Competition 2016

Dissertation Images Competition 2016

Our third year students were asked to submit images from their dissertation research that would give someone a flavour of what they were trying to do and how they were doing it. Prizes were awarded for the best. Below are some of the entries, along with a short commentary on what they got up to in their research.


Overall winner: Anna Knowles-Smith


The matter of how to manage refugees is often talked about in the media and political discussion in terms of a ‘crisis’. Within these discussions, refugees can tend to figure as personally depoliticised, powerless victims. By looking at how refugees seek to represent themselves, Anna’s dissertation has sought to unsettle some of these discourses. This image comes from the Calais refugee camp at a time when pressure to demolish it was mounting and riots were becoming more common there. It conveys the defiance of camp members in the face of extreme hardship and an increasingly uncertain future.


Winner of the ‘data’ category: Tilak Joshi


Tilak has collected a range of different forms of data at Croxley Common Moor, a 40-acre site near Watford. His aim is to understand the impacts of certain ‘scrub management’ schemes there. What happens to grasslands that can provide a valued home for wildflower species when scrub vegetation is taken away? One way of starting to answer this question is to ascertain the acidity levels in soils. This image shows a series of soil samples collected by Tilak, neatly organised and ready to be tested to reveal exactly that.


Winner of the ‘method’ category: Holly Campbell


Holly is exploring female entrepreneurship in Turkey. This has recently been encouraged by the Turkish government for both economic and empowerment reasons. Through interviews and participant observation with female entrepreneurs there, she is questioning how this agenda is playing out on the ground. In this image we find Hatice, the only broom maker left in Selcuk. She grows the grass to make these brooms herself. When tourists come along she says she grows this on a tiny patch just outside her home, but actually she has a whole field just out of sight.


Ilana Goodkin


Ilana’s dissertation is looking at certain regeneration projects in Jerusalem to see whether they encourage a more positive experience of coexistence in a place with a diversity of communities. This image depicts the ‘reading station’ – something that was once merely a bus stop, but has since been transformed by local art students and residents into an opportunity to donate and borrow books. This innovative attempt to create ‘community’ housed books in many languages, and they were read by many demographic groups.


Eisha Gandhi


What does living and working near volcanoes do to your sense of being ‘at risk’? Through questionnaires and interviews, Eisha has sought to answer this question with reference to those living in Iceland and working in the tourism industry there. This image comes from Seltun, a geothermal field in which she was interviewing a tour guide about how ‘risk’ features in Icelandic tourism. The bubbling sediment heavy water behind them provided a constant reminder of how certain natural forces are part of everyday life there.


Aalia Shah


Aalia’s research is centred on social housing tenants under threat of eviction in one of London’s wealthiest boroughs. By looking at the experience of those living on the ‘Sutton Estate’ in Chelsea, she aims to understand some of the social effects of Westminster Council’s planned decision to tear down a block of flats. What do residents of the estate feel about their potential removal and what can this tell us about the future of social housing more generally? This image depicts a coffee morning she held with residents. It suggests the sense of community that can for the moment still be found there.


Lily Donnelly


Lily’s study focused on the Los Angeles River and the attempts of some of those who live in LA to revitalise and celebrate it. This photo captures one of LA’s most iconic features: the dense and often chaotic freeway system that supports interactions between communities, municipalities and suburbs. Many of the Angelenos she interviewed spoke of their frustration with the city’s car dependent culture. This was something that the LA river helped them to escape by providing a valued opportunity to cycle along its banks.


Lillian Babayan


Lillian’s project is focussed on the experience of ‘Birthright Armenia’ – a programme that takes members of the Armenian Diaspora back to their ‘homeland’ for short periods of time. She hopes to understand what this does to their sense of who they are or, in other words, how ‘diasporic identities’ are shaped by volunteering on schemes such as these. This image depicts how an encounter with Armenians in Armenia generally begins – with sunflower seeds and a coffee. This was how she was greeted when she embarked on her own fieldwork in Armenia and soon became an effective means of recruiting interviewees.


Jake Stenson


The global ‘fair trade’ movement aims to help producers in developing countries achieve better working and trading conditions by promoting more ethical purchasing choices elsewhere. But, in order to elicit sympathy and support, producers can sometimes be represented by these initiatives as trapped in unequal power relations. Through interviews with craft workers in a ‘Fair Trade Town’ in the upper East Region of Ghana, Jake hopes to understand how producers feel about being part of this movement and whether they really see themselves in this way.


Ruby Tunbridge


Entitled ‘A home from home’, Ruby’s dissertation has investigated the lives of British retiree migrants in Alicante, Spain with a view to understanding what this case study tells us about ‘translocal identities’. As part of this, she gave some of her respondents a disposable camera, asking them to take pictures that represented their new ‘home’. This image is one of the results, coming with the caption of ‘a pint and Sunday lunch with our mates’.


Hattie Dufton


There has been limited research on macrophytes (plants that live at least partly in water) in UK Ponds.  In response to this, Hattie has been investigating how, in a Norfolk Farm, certain practices of pond management, in combination with environmental variables, are impacting upon the diversity of aquatic macrophytes that live in the ponds there. The aim is to contribute to UK pond conservation and encourage a wider appreciation of the importance of ponds. In this image she has just settled down to a session of plant identification.