“What can one do with a Geography degree?"
When I started my M.A. (Honours) Geography degree at the University of Glasgow, I wasn’t sure exactly what my plans were for when I had completed my course. I just knew that I had really enjoyed the subject of Geography at school and I wanted to do something ‘environmental’. And Glasgow was always the city that I’d wanted to study in. Being a Geography undergraduate at Glasgow offered me many opportunities that wouldn’t have been experienced elsewhere. For example, fieldwork classes throughout my degree included trips to York, Swansea, Galway and then, later, Mallorca- a great way to learn your subject and get to know your fellow students.
During my undergraduate degree, I developed a real interest in the relationship between outdoor recreation and environmental conservation. I wanted to know how the environment could cope with ever increasing visitor numbers, and was interested in the importance of National Parks. This had been fostered by optional courses in Conservation and Mountain Environments which underpinned my dissertation on Recreational uses in National Parks. I decided that this was something I wanted to pursue at postgraduate level.
Having gained a first class honours degree, I was lucky enough to win a PhD studentship to study the social and ecological impacts of outdoor recreation, using the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park as a case study. As Geography is such a diverse subject, I was able to combine it with Ecology and Economics in order to gain a multi-disciplinary PhD, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Even better was that I could stay at the University of Glasgow for another three years, with an office located in the East Quadrangle and an amazing view from my window, looking right across the city of Glasgow! During my PhD, I also got to travel to the United States, where I gave conference papers and studied at an American University for a few months.
Following completion of my PhD, I joined the Scottish Executive as a government researcher, where I now work in the branch of Environment Social Research. Here I can still pursue my interest in National Parks but I also research topical issues such as climate change. My job allows me to put into practice many of the analytical, communication and organisational skills that I’ve learned throughout my time as a Geography student at Glasgow; and to pursue a subject that I’m still passionate about. Many of my fellow government researchers are also Geography Graduates.
All in all, Geography has opened up a fascinating world and, as I now live in Edinburgh, going back to the University of Glasgow to visit always puts a smile on my face!
Dr. Gillian F. Dalrymple
Environment Social Research
Rural and Environment Analytical Services
Rural and Environment Research and Analysis Directorate