Alice Mathias

"I studied Geography BSc at Swansea University from 2013-2016, for which I achieved a First.

Alice MathiasI'm now a junior researcher at the BBC's Natural History Unit on the programmes Springwatch/Autumnwatch/Winterwatch, and when I'm not doing this I work on other TV programmes or at a wildlife rescue centre called "Secret World". In my opinion I have the best job in the world! Working in live television is such a thrill and every day is always different. Being able to combine my love for animals and wildlife with this makes it even better.

When I'm asked what degree I did my colleagues often laugh, believing I did a degree completely irrelevant to the industry I'm in now. However, I tend to disagree. There is so much about natural history that is relevant to geography, from the sweeping landforms and melting ice caps in Planet Earth 2 to the plastic pollution in Blue Planet 2. On top of this there are so many transferable skills from my geography degree that I use in my day to day work. Working to tight deadlines is very important during live television, as well as working well in a team and, for my job in particular, the research skills I learnt from my degree are invaluable. On top of this, the skills gained from the field trips I took part in, both locally in Wales and internationally to Canada and the Indian Himalayas, have been tremendously helpful in preparing me for working "on location", where days are spent outside in all weather conditions until late at night... just like a good geography field trip! 

The field trips I took part in whilst at Swansea were the highlight of my degree. I was lucky enough to visit Vancouver in Canada for two weeks to study the natural hazards there, and then Sikkim in India to study the local people and the natural hazards they faced there. If I hadn't have done this degree I would never have been to Sikkim as it is such a remote and unknown location I would have never thought to go. I had never been to Asia before so the culture shock on arrival was almost overwhelming, but they were the most beautiful two weeks learning about a completely different way of life that I won't soon forget

Swansea as a place to live was a total laugh (in a good way!). Having the beach right on the doorstep was fantastic and meant for lots of beach BBQs and rounders games. Wind Street Wednesdays will go down in history, as will Sin on Thursdays. Varisty was one of the highlights of the year, being able to watch Cardiff vs Swansea in the Millennium Stadium was quite a privilege. 

To any new students thinking about applying to Swansea I'd say... go for it!! Swansea was my second choice on UCAS but I am so glad I wasn't accepted into my first choice as I couldn't have asked for a better time at uni than at Swansea. If you're applying for geography, go on as many trips as possible, even if it means missing some nights out to save money! You won't find trips as heavily subsidised and organised entirely for you outside of uni! Do as much work experience as you can fit in as you will find this incredibly helpful at working out what you do and don't like, and will also help you make great connections. If it wasn't for the two work experience placements I did at the BBC I wouldn't have the job I have now. 

Work hard, play hard and good luck!"

Tomas Howells

BSc Geography, Menzies Aviation (Management Development Graduate Scheme)

After 3 years here in the Geography Department at Swansea University it’s safe to say that studying here was one of the best decisions I ever made. Geography is such a popular subject to study here in Swansea having made many good friends on my course on top of an already friendly and helpful environment that the staff provide in the department. Over the course of 3 years, I was a member of the Geography Society, Athletics and Cross Country team and an Ambassador for the department for UCAS open/visit days.

Studying Geography at Swansea

The first year of study you cover a mix of both the physical and human elements of Geography with modules such as Earth in Action, Global Environmental Change to Sustainability in a fragile world and Moving Worlds: Mobility and Migration. Going into University I found that I enjoyed both Human and physical geographical studies, but after completing my first year, I found that I had a lot more interest in the physical modules. In years 2 and 3 you’re given more freedom of choice to select your modules and because of this I tailored my degree more towards the physical side for the remainder of my studies. The department offer a Geographical Information System (GIS) module in 2nd this was not only a great opportunity to learn a new computer software for map making but also an opportunity to develop a new skill set as GIS is highly thought of amongst employers today. 3rd year you’re given the opportunity to conduct your own research in the form of a dissertation, this allows you to really take control of your own interests and research to produce an academic report to be proud of! Under my supervisor Prof. Neil Loader, I conducted my research on identifying climate extremes using various proxies such as tree ring width, tree ring density, stable isotopes observing various targets such as summer temperature, summer precipitation, cloud cover percentage etc. 

Field Trip Opportunities

There are many opportunities provided by the department to Swansea University has provided me with some amazing opportunities to do study in the great outdoors. From trekking around Porth yr Ogof to exploring the forests of Vancouver, Canada studying the microclimates of the area and the geological landscape There is an opportunity in your final year to attend the Sikkim fieldtrip in the Himalayas which is a joint trip with other departments of the College of Science! The fieldwork opportunities at Swansea University have been as various as they have been plentiful, and have given me a wealth of scientific experience (and memories!). My favourite experiences as an Undergraduate has been the field trip to Vancouver in my 2nd year. I was lucky enough to be selected for this field trip and experience the breath taking landscapes of Whistler and Squamish and learning how processes such as volcanism and glaciation helped shape the areas. Also I was very fortunate to be selected to represent the Geography department as a student Ambassador for 2 years, this was a fantastic opportunity for me to engage with potential applicants and develop personal skills as well as expressing the fantastic opportunities there are to study here and sharing my experiences as a Geographer in Swansea.

Over my time here studying Geography, I established great relationships with many of the lecturers here, the friendliness of the staff and helpfulness they offer helped me settle and fully immerse myself into the curriculum which made my experience here in Swansea very enjoyable! Swansea is also lucky enough to have a wide variety of social societies, such as the Geography Society. The society organise a range of activities, such as, a trip to Amsterdam at the end of the 1st semester, and an annual Geography Christmas Ball which is held at the Grape and Olive restaurant. The Christmas ball is great way to unwind after a busy semester to which lecturers also attend and allows for a great evening to socialise with staff and course mates over dinner.  Whatever your passion, hobby or future aspirations, the Geography staff here at Swansea offer endless opportunities, support and encouragement to help you get to where you want to be. 

Where am I now?

The best thing about studying Geography is how the subject is so broad and the skill sets you learn and develop over the 3 years can be applied across many different business sectors! Upon completing my degree, I now work for an aviation company called Menzies Aviation on a management development graduate scheme in London Heathrow, to which I am working closely with the fuels and business development team of the company. It goes to show that studying Geography can present to you, fantastic opportunities after completing your degree where you could work in any type of industry. The skills I acquired over my 3 years have definitely helped me develop as a person and goes to show how studying Geography here at Swansea University is such a fantastic opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up.