“ School of Geography, Politics and Sociology / Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences / Newcastle upon Tyne / England „
I have just completed my three year undergraduate Human and Social Geography degree at Newcastle University and although it's now feeling like a waste of three years (in spite of attaining good results) I shall attempt to reivew the course fairly...
I chose geography at Newcastle as I loved the subject at A-Level and wanted to stay at home while studying (I live in Sunderland). The geography course is based in Daysh, although very little teaching actually happens here except the odd seminar. Much takes place in the city campus' older buildings although for a couple of modules in second year we were based around the medical school which is maybe a ten minute walk from the main campus.
All of the campus is easily reachable by public transport with Metro and bus stations nearby, although I wouldn't recommend driving unless you can get a permit to park on campus as city centre parking is very expensive.
The course is delivered as a mixture of lectures, seminars, workshops, practicals and tutorials depending on the modules you choose. I went for modules which were entirely human geography based although you can choose any combination of modules across the human and physical spectrum. There are modules focusing on political, social, economic and development issues and a wide range of physical subjects too although I know less about these. There is the chance to do fieldwork based modules, and it is compulsory to do at least one over the three years. I chose to do a local and regional change module which included three days in the field just around Newcastle City Centre and the Quayside as well as a rather chilly boat trip up the Tyne which was quite good. I know the Greece field trip is also a popular Human Geography option, and sounded amazing!
I have no complaints about any of the modules I chose, all had something interesting to learn and offered the chance to discuss relevant and current issues from an academic point of view. the exception to this were the statistical modules were were compulsory in second year, and a necessary evil when it came to writing the dissertation in third year. While I didn't enjoy these modules as they were very dry and uninteresting to me I can see their value still.
The geography staff were also excellent. Academically they were always open to discuss whatever issues you may have with anything they say and the chance to debate with them is invaluable in helping to understand issues. Also they all had appointed office hours where you can go and discuss any misunderstandings or problems with work set which is massively useful. I encountered some personal problems in third year and my personal tutor was an excellent support in helping me to get sorted, so its good to know they are not just academics in an ivory tower! Also, in first year you get a tutor hour every week with a postgraduate student which is useful as they have more recent experience of making what can be a difficult transition into university life.
The only problem I ever had with the course was what I percieved to be an inconsistency in marking across modules. My work was, I thought, of a fairly consistent standard but my marks seemed to have a massive range for reasons I couldn't understand!
Overall I enjoyed my course, and although it has not particularly set me up for employment it was enjoyable and interesting.