You can also see video testimonies and read testimonies from Geography undergraduates on the University of Oxford website.

Becky Alexander

Becky Alexander
Where are you from?

Brentwood, Essex

What subjects did you take at school?

Maths, English, Physics, Geography

Why did you choose to study Geography at Oxford?

I completely fell in love with the course at Oxford - it was like it was made for me! When I came on the Open Day and got to meet all the tutors I was really inspired by their passion, and it was an amazing chance to be taught by experts in their fields.

What year are you now and what is your favourite subject?

2nd Year. I've definitely taken a more physical route within the course, and am especially keen on Biogeography, which was something I never did at school.

Where have you been on fieldwork and what did you do?

In first year we did fieldwork in a local woodland and in Oxford city centre, and this Easter I went on a week-long fieldtrip to Tenerife! Whilst in Tenerife we worked in small groups to complete two fieldwork projects; mine were on Rock Weathering and Land Degradation, and both were really interesting.

What are you writing on for your dissertation?

My dissertation is about the impacts of reintroducing the European Beaver to the UK, focusing on the physical impacts which beavers have on their landscapes - I'm hopefully doing fieldwork in Exeter and Lancashire this summer which I'm really looking forward to.

What are you thinking of doing in the future when you finish your degree?

I'm hoping to become a teacher when I finish my degree - I really love Geography and want a job which is closely linked to the subject, and enjoy working with young people so teaching is ideal!

What advice would you give to prospective students?

Make sure you chose a University based on the course, as that's what will determine whether you enjoy University or not, and read as much as you can - it helps keep you passionate, and allows you to explore more of the subject than just what you're taught in school.

Hector Bagley

Hector Bagley
Where are you from?

Liverpool, Merseyside.

What subjects did you take at school?

Maths, Chemistry, Economics and Geography.

Why did you choose to study Geography at Oxford?

The course at Oxford starts off broadly and allows you to choose your own route in the 2nd and 3rd year. Unlike a lot of other universities, the first year is balanced between human and physical, so it allows you to make your own choice of which you prefer.

What year are you now and what is your favourite subject?

2nd Year. I'm a human geographer through and through. My favourite topic this year has been the 'African Societies' option. Unlike at A level, you can really get to the heart of issues that are spread throughout the continent.

Where have you been on fieldwork and what did you do?

In 1st year for our physical geography fieldwork we had a day field trip to Wytham Woods. It was quite early on the year and was a good way of meeting other Geographers. In my human geography fieldwork I interviewed homeless people around Oxford on the topic of discrimination.

In 2nd year I went to Copenhagen, completing two projects over 6 days. The first project was spent mostly in the Carlsberg brewery 'looking at Danish culture' and getting to know the city. During the last couple of days we undertook a more detailed research project on the child care provision provided in Denmark. We visited several nurseries and interviewed mothers on their opinions on the social welfare systems provided by the state.

What topic are you studying for your dissertation?

I'm looking at the reasons behind why Qur'anic Islamic education still exists in Africa. This education requires all teaching to be based on the Qur'an and many believe it is not compatible with modernity. I'm heading over to Ghana in West Africa for 6 weeks this summer. Exotic!!!

What are you thinking of doing in the future when you finish your degree?

Hopefully travel some more before settling down and getting a job. I've really been inspired by my course about the good that NGOs can do for developing regions, so I want to do some NGO work for a few years in either South America or Africa.

What advice would you give to prospective students?

Give it your best shot. Wherever you go to University you will have a great time and meet some great people. The Oxbridge infrastructure for learning is however quite unique, pushing you academically and at the same time providing a large base of support through your tutors and college. Social life isn't too bad as well; you may end up substituting club nights for garden parties and punting, but if you stay open minded you will have a lot of fun!

Lucy Langley

Lucy Langley
Where are you from?

Penrith, Cumbria - Lake District.

What subjects did you take at school?

Maths, Further Maths, Geography, Physics.

Why did you choose to study Geography at Oxford?

It's a varied subject with lots of choice. It appealed to me as the course has lots of mathematical aspects, as well exploring cultural and economic topics. I visited Oxford before making my decision and met tutors who really gave me an idea of what the course was going to be like and what the tutorial system would be like - it all really appealed to me!

What year are you now and what is your favourite aspect of Geography?

I'm in the first year and my favourite subjects are the mathematical/physical side of Geography, especially climatology.

Where have you been on fieldwork and what did you do?

We have had two day field trips. One was a trip to Wytham Woods just outside of Oxford. This is a university owned research site and we undertook a biogeographical study using measurements 50-100 trees in various ways (diameter, height, crown size etc).

The second trip explored different areas within Oxford that are at risk of flooding. We carried out interviews and questionnaires of the residents and key stakeholders in flood management.

What are you thinking of doing in the future when you finish your degree?

I would like to work in the financial sector - perhaps in investment banking or international finance. My interests in maths, as well as economic geography, are likely to influence my career choice.

What advice would you give to prospective students?

Think long and hard about which subject to choose as you will be studying it for three years. Many jobs don't require a specific degree so take something you are going to enjoy. Make sure Oxford is the place for you and that you will enjoy the tutorial system.

Tallulah Le Merle

Tallulah Le Merle
Where are you from?

I'm from San Francisco, California.

What subjects did you take at school?

I didn't take A levels; the US system works very differently and we aren't required to specialize in any given subject area until well into university. I had access to a variety of courses and was lucky to get to pick the ones that interested me most. I've studied most topics at some point in my academic career - everything from astronomy to art history to chemistry and quantum physics! However, I probably have the strongest background in environmental sciences, Spanish, English literature and calculus.

Why did you choose to study Geography at Oxford?

Although I also looked at a number of US universities, Oxford stood apart because it offered an entirely different learning experience. The tutorial system and the intense focus on one subject (although Geography is a very broad one!) are unique and unparalleled by other institutions. I was attracted to the challenge of thinking on my feet during intimate discussions with tutors, and wanted to expand my organization skills by taking on a hands-off curriculum that encourages students to motivate themselves and come to conclusions on their own.

What year are you now and what is your favourite aspect within Geography?

I'm in my first year. In two terms the course has already covered an enormous breadth of subject matter throughout numerous lecture series. I found financialisation compelling, largely because I understood the industry very little beforehand. I also loved a brief series we had about states and borders, namely the new nations and quasi-states that have formed following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It's also nice to go over big concepts in geography that I remember studying in high school, such as ecology and geomorphology.

What's great is that you don't need to come to Oxford knowing everything! There are so many topics that were foreign to me upon arrival, but now I feel like I could actively engage in discussion about them. It's a really rewarding process.

What advice would you give to prospective students?

Think about why you love Geography, and what you love about it. This genuine interest in the subject is what will shine through in your interviews and in your work; after all, tutors love to teach students that share their passion for this broad and diverse subject.

George Sismey-Durrant

George Sismey-Durrant
Where are you from?

Bedford, Bedfordshire.

What subjects did you take at school?

Maths, Chemistry, Physics and Geography.

Why did you choose to study Geography at Oxford?

Geography has always been a favourite subject of mine as it literally applies to everything, and as my teacher at school used to say - 'you do all the other subjects… to help you with your geography'. I was suggested Oxford by that same teacher due to the experiences of previous students from my school and then following a visit and the few days spent at interview, I knew I'd love to get in. The course at Oxford is incredibly strong in both human and physical aspects and allows you to specialise in 2nd and 3rd year.

What year are you now and what is your favourite subject?

2nd Year. The physical is definitely where my preferences lie. Despite prior beliefs, climatology is by far my favourite topic - primarily because it is, unlike school, not what the different kinds of weather are, but actually the physics driving the atmosphere.

Where have you been on fieldwork and what did you do?

First-year fieldwork in Wytham Woods was a day of measuring trees and looking at controlling variables of tree growth. The human fieldwork was based on interviews with college-staff.

In 2nd year I went to Tenerife, undertaking 2 projects in 4 days with other members of the year. I firstly donned my hard-hat and measured vegetation and sediment in a dry gully system for 2 days, before heading up to the National Park to investigate tourist resources of geodiversity for a more environmental project. Both projects were successful, but the week as a whole was even better.

What are you studying for your dissertation?

I'm studying the impact of rock properties on glacial erosion. As much as I would love to say that I'm going somewhere exotic like Iceland, Norway or Greenland and climbing on/under glaciers for my research, unfortunately I'm not. Instead I'm going up to the very top of Scotland and looking at large rocks (followed by some lab work).

What are you thinking of doing in the future when you finish your degree?

Having done lots of work on environmental damage and climate change, it's inspired me to follow a 'green' career. Whether this is in renewable energy, environmental management or sustainable business, I don't know… but I have another year before I reach the real world.

What advice would you give to prospective students?

Wherever you go to University you'll have a great time I'm sure. But very few offer what Oxford does: a college atmosphere (with inter-collegiate sport as well as University level); regular contact time with top academics; the Bodleian Library; and let's not forget the largest croquet tournament in the world and the punting in the summer.