The School of Geography and the Environment welcomed twenty enthusiastic and talented Year 12 geographers to Oxford for the UNIQ Summer School. The UNIQ Summer Schools are open to students studying at UK state schools and colleges, with preference given to applicants who come from schools and areas with little or no history of successful application to Oxford. Since the UNIQ summer schools began in 2010, 70% of those attending the summer schools have applied to Oxford and 40% of the applicants have been offered places. Eight students who attended the UNIQ Geography Summer School in 2012 were made offers for October 2013.
Those attending the summer school in July 2013 were given an introduction to life as a Geography student at Oxford, attending lectures, practical classes, undertaking fieldwork and preparing for a tutorial. The choice of themes for the summer school was designed to introduce students to issues in human and physical geography which they may not have encountered at A level.
Many of the participants commented that the week had opened their eyes to the diversity of opportunities available within a geography degree course. The programme for the week included lectures on Hydrology and Global Environmental Change (Dr Simon Dadson) and Modern Conservation (Dr Richard Grenyer). The students also learned how to run climate prediction models, comparing projected changes in temperature and precipitation for different seasons in different regions.
One day of the week was given over to field work based at the Holywell Cemetery, an appropriate location as this is the burial place of A.J. Herbertson, one of the original members of staff when the Oxford School of Geography was founded in 1899. Under the guidance of researchers from the School's Oxford Rock Breakdown Laboratory (OxRBL), students studied a variety of aspects of stone decay, including the effects of ivy on stone microclimates; the bioprotective or biodeteriorative effect of algal greening; and the differential rates of lichen growth on different stone types.
At the start of the summer school the students were given a reading list on the topic of Resource Conflicts to prepare for a tutorial later in the week. They were given an introduction to the Radcliffe Science Library by the Geography Subject librarian and had two afternoons devoted to preparing for the tutorials. As an introduction to this topic, Dr Troy Sternberg gave a lecture on Nomadism to resource nationalism in Mongolia, based on his British Academy funded research on natural hazards, resilience and adaptation of human societies in Mongolia.
The UNIQ Geography Summer School is an annual event. Applications for the 2014 summer school open at the start of January 2014. For further details see: UNIQ Summer Schools