Welcome to the blog of the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Northampton. This will keep you up to date with both student and staff activities.

The Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences includes staff with interests in biological sciences, conservation, ecology, environmental sciences, environmental statistics, geography and waste management. We offer a range of degree programmes and have a number of postgraduate research students. For more information about studying with us please visit http://www.northampton.ac.uk/.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Director of Planning gives talk about new Waterside Campus

On Tuesday 20th January 2015 Neil Rowley, Director of Planning at Savills visited the University to talk to third year Geography and Environmental Science students.

Neil Rowley, Dr Janet Jackson, and the students

Savills are the main consultants dealing with the planning application and Neil Rowley’s talk was based around how the planning process operates and how stakeholders are consulted.  Students attending the talk are taking the Sustainable Development: Land Use and Policy module, taught by Dr Janet Jackson.  This third year module covers a range of topics from land degradation, sustainable land use and planning, to Environmental Impact Assessment.  The students are currently working on an assignment related to the planning application for the new University of Northampton Waterside Campus, which is expected to be open in September 2018.  The students took this opportunity to ask Mr Rowley lots of questions related to their assessment.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Wheelchair accessibility audit carried out by first year Geography students

First year Human Geography students have been carrying out fieldwork to evaluate the accessibility of Avenue Campus for wheelchair users. Working in groups of 4 or 5, students completed two activities (wearing the famous Geography fieldwork hi-viz jackets, of course!). Before conducting the exercise, students had the opportunity to interview members of the University's Wheelchair Basketball team, to find out more about the experiences of wheelchair users.

Jack and Laurence auditing wheelchair accessibility at Avenue Campus

  • Each group has taken a 30-minute walk with a wheelchair around an everyday route on campus. Everyone has had an opportunity to push, and be pushed in, the wheelchair. During the walk, students made fieldnotes reflecting upon how familiar everyday spaces can look and feel very different from the perspective of a wheelchair user.
  •  All students gained experience of using field equipment to measure footpath and corridor widths, kerb heights, and slope gradients. These measurements were compared to Department for Transport Guidance about accessible pedestrian environments.
Each group will prepare an annotated map and summary of their key findings. This exercise is designed to help students engage with recent academic research about geographies of disabilities. The project also provides a wealth of data which is really valued by the University of Northampton, as we seek to make the campus an accessible and inclusive place for all.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Research Excellence in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences

Just before Christmas the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences received an early present with the release of the results of the Research Excellence Framework.  This is a national assessment of research activity carried out by the government in all British universities, and the outcome determines how much core research funding they receive over the next six years.  The Department was very pleased with the result of our submission to the Geography and Environmental Studies panel; over 40% of our research papers were rated as “world leading” or “internationally excellent”, with most of the rest being “recognised internationally”.  In addition some of the Human Geography staff working on children’s geographies were entered into the Education unit of assessment, which also did well.  For a young, mainly teaching-focused, non-research-intensive institution such as the University of Northampton, it was an impressive result.  All of this research feeds directly into the student experience, by way of case studies and cutting-edge findings, bringing the subject alive and relevant to the modern world.