Field trips for first year students

Our new Geography and Environment students joined staff on a series of Exploring Brighton field trips, which introduce newcomers to the city and surrounding areas.

Field trip to the Earthship

We visited Stanmer Park at the very back of Brighton, with a guided tour around community projects & the Earthship eco- home.

Students visiting the exterior of the Earthship community project

Investigating coastal change along the South Coast

This Autumn, our Level 4 students underwent an exciting field trip to investigate coastal change along the South Coast lead by Dr. Georgios Maniatias and Dr Magda Grove. As part of the Academic Learning and Field Skills module, students created a series of beach profiles analysing grain size distribution at the National Trust’s amazing Cuckmere Haven.

Exploring the politics of heritage in Hastings

Students were introduced to the politics of ‘heritage’ and struggles over the meanings and use of space in Hastings and St Leonards; coastal towns East of Brighton. Is there more to the area than 1066?

Collecting ecological data in Ashdown Forest

Students headed to Ashdown Forest as part of the Geographies of the South Coast trip with Dr. Niall Burnside, Pete Lyons and PhD student Michael Williams. They collected ecological data on internationally threatened heathland habitats and completed an astounding 96 quadrats! The GPS data and species data will be used by the Conservators of Ashdown for further analysis.

Marine Biology trip to Shoreham Beach

For students studying the Introduction to Marine Biology and Ecology module first year students spent a busy day at Shoreham, learning how to use the Dumpy level and build the Shoreham beach profile, while also marvelling at shark eggs and cuttlebones washed up on the shores!!

Visiting the Natural History Museum, London

At the start of December, our Level 4 Earth and Ocean System students spent a fun packed day at the Natural History Museum, London. They explored volcanoes, earthquakes and even took a brief trip through the Earth’s History!

Natural History Museum entrance hall
Laura Evenstar

Meet Dr Laura Evenstar

Dr Laura Evenstar specialises in geomorphology, sedimentology and superficial ore deposits from tectonically active arid regions around the world. Laura is the course leader for Geography BSc(Hons).

I teach on a range of different subject areas

Within the first year we explore the large-scale interactions of the earth and climate and how it has changes from the formation of the planet, 4.6 billion years ago, up to the modern day.  Towards the later part of the courses I teach my main passion, how landscapes form and change as they are sculpted by movement of ice, water and wind.

Within Dynamic Landscapes module my students learn about a range of different landscapes and how they form. At the end of the course they construct their own research project on the landscape element they are most excited by. The chance to choose their own area of interest’s beings out a passion in the students and led to some fascinating projects! In the past we have had students work on understanding desert dune migration in Afghanistan, slumping of landslides off the highest volcano in the Solar System (Olympus Mons), and even mapping out river systems in Martian Meteorite craters. The students love taking ownership of their projects!

Within the first year in the Earth and Ocean System option module we explain how the climate over the last 4.6 billion years has changed in response to development of different life forms. We read science articles on different theories for the origin of Life and debate their findings. And, to finish the course, we visit the Natural History museum where we utilise the fantastic displays to refresh everything we have learnt over the year. The students love the mixture of different learning styles to understand these fascinating topics!

My students get involved in my research

I engage students into a variety of different research activities. For example, at undergraduate our students work together to analyse a series of rivers in the Atacama Desert. This cutting-edge research is being used, combined with my own, to model how the Andean Mountain chain has uplift over the last 10 million years.

Our undergraduate dissertation students have the opportunity to work on and create high profile research data which feeds directly into future published academic papers. For example, previous students have constructed detailed geomorphic maps of the Afar Region, Ethiopia, to unravel East African climate change while other students have mapped out landslides in the Atacama Desert to produce risk maps for the most vulnerable communities in southern Peru. There are also opportunities for students to do a summer internship on these topics funded by Santander!

You can find out more about Dr Evenstar’s research here.

We support our students at every step of the way

We operate an open-door policy so that, at any time, a student can pop in for a chat about any personal or academic issues they are facing. As a personal tutor, for any of my students that feel they need some extra support, I provide a weekly to monthly catch up sessions, to discuss anything from time management to report writing!

What I love most about teaching

I love watching how our student come out of their shell over the time they study with us. My favourite classes to teach are the final years sessions when the students are comfortable with you as a lecturer and happy to questions what you are teaching them or even mock your jokes!

My favourite location in Sussex is

Cuckmere Valley, it has such a beautiful geological history with amazing walks.

Nick McGlynn

Meet Dr Nick McGlynn

Dr Nick McGlynn is course leader for Geography BA(Hons).

How I like to teach

I teach Human Geography, specialising in lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) equality issues and community spaces.With all of the progress that’s been made it’s easy to forget that LGBTQ people still face marginalisation and exclusion in our society, and really value having distinct LGBTQ spaces.

I bring high energy and enthusiasm to all of my lectures, using plenty of videos, group discussions, class polls, and sometimes a bit of quick research right there in the classroom. Learning isn’t about just sitting and listening, it’s about actually doing stuff!

One of the field trips I lead takes students to the Soho area of central London. We explore why Soho became an LGBTQ neighbourhood over the past 40 years, and document changes to the area by making our own ethnographic observations. Students get to visit LGBTQ venues, observe the nightlife, and hear from experts like local journalists about the politics of LGBTQ spaces and the issues faced by Soho businesses and residents.

You can read more about the Soho trip here

Human Geographers often use ‘qualitative’ data, like audio-recorded interviews or written stories. But graduates from lots of degrees leave university not really knowing what to do with this kind of data! I teach students how to analyse qualitative data effectively and rigorously, so that they can evidence the conclusions they draw from it. This includes training in step-by-step techniques like Reflexive Thematic Analysis (RTA), and specialist software like NVivo which helps organise and manage very large qualitative datasets. Students practice these during our 2nd year Morocco field trip, using them to analyse the data they gather in the field while doing their own group projects.

What I like most about teaching

Getting to see students learn and develop during their time with us. It’s so great when you see a student’s marks consistently getting better and better, because they’re listening to their feedback and actually enjoying what they’re learning!

We’ve got a really superb staff-to-student ratio, so we get to teach in small classes and genuinely get to know our students. This means we’re able listen and give advice tailored to individuals, their needs and their situations. No student here is ever just another face in the crowd!

My favourite location in Sussex

I love walking along the Brighton seafront. In winter you wrap up, watch huge waves crash and roar as flocks of starlings swirl around the pier. In summer it’s shorts and t-shirts, baking in the heat as you go to get an ice-cream. Amazing all year round!

Listen to Nick’s podcast

Podcast: Nick talks discusses his research into LGBTQ communities in both rural and urban areas and his high energy teaching style

Watch a video

Find out more about Dr McGlynn’s research.