A day in the life of studying Geography at Durham

Katie Garratt

My morning walk to the library

Today, I left my house around 8:30am and walked to the Billy B (the nickname for the Durham University library). As a second year, I live in a student house in the Viaduct, a popular area for students to live, near the train station. It takes me around 25 minutes to walk to the library and my lectures, but today I took a slightly longer route along the river. If I have the time in the mornings, I love to walk along the river as it has a gorgeous view of the cathedral (see cover photo above) and is a great way to start my morning!

My day

Once in the library, I began working on my Research Project. Over the Easter holidays, I went on a Geography fieldtrip to Liverpool. Throughout the trip, my group conducted interviews, questionnaires and observations to answer our research question. Our research question is around exploring the Geography of Women’s Fear across Liverpool and the influences on this. Now I’m back in Durham, I have been writing up a 10-page research report to answer our research question. I’ve really enjoyed this project as it allows you to be creative and choose how to answer your chosen question. It’s also a great way to practise and prepare for our dissertations in our final year.

Studying in the Bill Bryson library

Taking a break at one of Durham’s many lovely cafés

Around 12:30ish, I took a break from my work and met a friend in the Small Island Coffee Café. This is one of the many cafés across the university which serves food and drinks throughout term time.

Revision lecture – the first half

I then had a Political Geography lecture in the Geography building from 2pm till 4pm. As our annual exams are starting in a few weeks, this was a revision lecture. During the lecture, the module professors talked through the dos and don’ts for our exams, giving us tips and tricks on how to answer the essay questions.

Revision lecture – the second half

The second half of the lecture, we were provided with an essay question from last year and given time to plan an answer for it. The question was: ‘Understanding Power as Decentralised and Diffuse Illuminates new Political Geographies’ Critically Discuss. Students then raised their hands and explained how they would answer the essay question, the lecturers listened and gave feedback and I found it so helpful to hear how others would tackle the question differently from me.

Meeting at the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC) café

After my lecture, I met my housemates in the Teaching and Learning Centre café. The Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC for short) is another area for students to study independently, as well as having lecture halls and seminar rooms. In a standard week, I would have one or two lectures or seminars in this building.

Working on my dissertation

My housemate and I studied together for a while. This time I was finishing off my dissertation proposal which is due next week. During your third year of studying Geography, you will complete an independent research project called a dissertation. As this is quite a big piece of work, the Geography department ensures you start thinking about and planning this throughout second year to ensure you are ready to start it in third year.

Dissertation planning…and research in Hong Kong!

As part of the dissertation plan, I had to complete a risk assessment as well as an ethics form so my research will comply with university guidelines. I plan to conduct my research on urban planning next year while on my year abroad studying in Hong Kong. I will then write up and complete the dissertation when I return to Durham in my fourth year. Once I had completed my dissertation proposal at around 5:30pm, I walked home with my housemate.

Studying in the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC)

In conclusion…

That concludes my day in the life of studying Geography! That was my day today as a second year in my third term, studying. However, this would vary from term to term and year to year. In a typical week, I would have around 10 hours of lectures and seminars with independent reading and assignments to be doing alongside. Some days I would wake up much later, and work longer into the evenings; it really depends how busy my week is!

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Katie Garratt

Hi, I’m Katie and I am currently a 2nd year Human Geography student at Trevelyan College. As well as my degree, I have a particular love for sport. I represent Durham in trampolining, but I also captain Trevelyan College netball team, Trevelyan college darts team and play for the Trevelyan/Grey college rugby team.

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