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/.

Monday, 30 March 2015

First year Geographers learn about heritage tourism at 78 Derngate

In order to learn more about heritage tourism, our first year Geography students paid a visit to 78 Derngate.  78 Derngate  is located in Northampton town centre, and is a key tourist attraction in the town.  The house was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1916.  It was Mackintosh’s final major commission, and the only house in England to be designed by him.

Students outside 78 Derngate

Distinctive Charles Rennie Mackintosh design
78 Derngate is now an award-winning tourist attraction.  Students went on a tour of the house and talked with staff to find out more about the house, the visitors, and how the site has been restored.  This field visit ties in with issues explored in class about heritage tourism and tourism management.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Former student talks about health and development in Malaysia and Nepal

Past Northampton student Sonia Coates joined first and second year Geography undergraduates last week to talk to them about her field work in Malaysia and Nepal undertaken as a part of her MSc studies. She covered a range of contemporary issues including migrant health in Kuala Lumpur and child health in a Nepali village. 

Former student, Sonia Coates
Sonia is now working for the Sheffield charity 'The Long Well Walk' and is busy raising funds for water and sanitation projects across Africa. Find out more about her work at http://thelongwellwalk.org/

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Students give the classes

Second year Geography students have taken on the role of teaching staff!  They have prepared and delivered seminar classes to their peers as part of the USA Field Module.  The module comprises a series of seminars, followed by a two-week trip to SW USA.

To help the students gain a better understanding of the places and issues that will be explored in the field, the lecturers asked them to prepare some classes.  Guidance and support was provided by the lecturers to ensure that appropriate research and preparation was carried out, but students were given the freedom to determine how the materials should be presented.  Topics covered included: the geology of the Colorado Plateau; stratigraphy at the Grand Canyon, volcanism in SW USA; film-making at Monument Valley; the Navajo Nation; geotourism in Utah, and resource management in national parks.  The classes took many forms, making use of lectures, videos, handouts, and even a ‘Pointless’ quiz.

Students will be visiting the Grand Canyon.

Tourism related to film-making at Monument Valley will also be explored during the trip.

Students will visit a number of National Parks, including this one - Bryce Canyon.

The field trip will take place in May.  This optional module (available to both Single Honours and Joint Honours Geography students) explores tourism, physical geography and resource management in SW USA.  This ‘road trip’ covers parts of Nevada, Arizona and Utah, and includes visits to five National Parks, the Navajo Nation, and Las Vegas.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Students raise money for Wells for India

First year geographers have organised a range of events to raise funds for Wells for India.  This charity (of which our very own Dr Kevin Cook is a trustee) works in some of the poorest rural communities in the drylands of India, providing water harvesting technology and supporting a variety of community programmes.  The students’ fundraising activities were inspired by a guest lecture given by the India Director, Om Prakesh Sharma, who visited the University earlier in the year.

Om Prakesh Sharma and Dr Kevin Cook

Activities included a cake sale, a sponsored silence, bag-packing at the local ASDA supermarket, and a tournament held at Game.

A successful Christmas-themed cake sale was held

A total of £654 was raised.  This money will be used to provide bio-sand filters to some of the poorest households in Rajasthan.  These simple, eco-friendly tools purify water, helping to prevent water-borne illnesses.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

What’s up at Upton? Student conference

As part of a final year Geography module, students have been conducting research projects about Upton Meadows.  Upton Meadows is a sustainable urban expansion located on the western outskirts of Northampton.  The development began in 2001, with the aim that it would be an exemplar of sustainable urban growth.  The development includes new homes, a primary school, a country park, and a sustainable urban drainage system.  Staff within the Department for Environmental and Geographical Sciences have been carrying out research at the site from the very beginning, and the students’ projects feed in to our on-going research projects.

Examples of presentation titles from the 'What's Up at Upton' student conference.
The student conference is an annual event.  This year ten groups of students gave presentations on their research.  The topics ranged from exploring perceptions of sustainable architecture to evaluating the efficiency of the drainage systems and retention ponds.