We’re always a fan of women supporting women, and this year we’re marking International Women’s Day by introducing two brilliant BSc Human Geography graduates. Heather Cadden graduated in 2015 and mentored Amelia Harper, who graduated in 2018; both are now working in in Corporate Social Responsibility/Ethics.

Find out more about where they are now, what they do, why it matters – and how they’re paying it forward to current students.


Heather Cadden works in ethical business/CSR at Marks & Spencer.

“I always loved social sciences and understanding different cultures and I felt like human geography at Reading was the right mix of the social aspects I loved of sociology at A-level and the international aspect of Geography. When I came to visit on an open day I fell in love with the campus and the course, especially the Erasmus program which I completed at the University of Groningen in my final year.”


Career inspiration

“I remember being so inspired when I was young when we did a project on Fairtrade. We all had to bring a Fairtrade product in – this was about 2000/2001 so it was mainly bananas, chocolate and coffee – and we then spent the show and tell being told all about the experiences of people in global supply chains and that initially caught my attention.

Fast forward to my time at Reading and I did two modules on development in second and third year, which studied life in the global south, considered child labour and the ILO conventions. We did a project presenting as H&M and our stance on child labour in the supply chain, which was such an eye opener to the world of CSR and what a career path might look like.

After a brief stint in Geography teaching I set my heart on a role in CSR. I was fortunate to get an Ethical Assistant role at George @ Asda’s Head Office, working with clothing supply chains, and about 18 months after that I moved to M&S Food to work in their Ethical Trade and human rights team.”


Working for a better future

“All my roles have had the rights of workers in supply chains as our focus, which means that every area we work on impacts women in many different ways. In my current role we work closely with our suppliers to monitor their ethical standards but also encourage them to share best practice together and support each other if they have any issues.  From the events we run to the day to day reports we grade, all the elements of work are to ensure we’re improving the experiences of workers in supply chains and by doing that we impact the women who work in those chains. We also work closely with other retailers to ensure we are working to similar goals and supporting workers.

One thing we did last Christmas was as a team, instead of doing a team secret Santa, I helped organise a box of hats, gloves and scarves for the Snowdrop Project – a charity that works to support and empower victims of modern slavery in the UK. This was a very small impact but I hope we keep working closely with charities and initiatives like this!”


Paying it forward: student mentoring

“Since graduating I’ve stayed in close contact with my lecturer Dr Sally Lloyd-Evans, and she’s been my referee. As I kept in contact when changing jobs we got to speaking about me coming into a lecture and chatting about my job. The first year I felt really underqualified so I offered to mentor a student instead. So from October 2017 I’ve been mentoring Amelia who was a final year student and now works in the CSR team at New Look. So this academic year we thought it would be great for us both to come back to Reading, talk about our jobs, the different ways companies approach CSR & Ethical and also how our mentoring relationship worked.

I’m currently speaking to quite a few students from Reading, and have offered my help and experience to any of them if they need it. I recently held a brand, retailer and supplier event on Responsible Recruitment at M&S’s offices and offered volunteer places to the students I’m in contact with so they could get some day-to-day ethical experience, but also be in a room full of brands, retailers and suppliers that are from a varied industry background so they’re not just hearing from me. I hope to offer this out to students for all events I manage as it’s a big part of my role.”


Ambitions for the future

“I hope to never leave this field! I’m really keen to travel and visit more factories and growers in global supply chains, I’d like to work between fashion and food as the similarities and differences are so interesting to me. I really want personally to look into ways technology can support us to help workers better and get more opportunities to heard their experiences.”


Amelia Harper works in Corporate Social Responsibility/Ethics at New Look.

“I enjoyed geography at school as I found it interesting learning about the world – especially places I hadn’t visited. I chose to focus on Human Geography because I wanted to learn more about human relationships with the world, different cultures, international development and University of Reading was one of the universities that offered just a Human Geography degree. On the Open Day, I got the impression that there was so much opportunity for me at Reading and the modules that they offered were so diverse. I also had never been to Reading before so was excited to experience somewhere new.”


Career Inspiration

“Throughout my studies I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do after graduation, but I always knew I wanted it to be centred around sustainability or helping people. My interest in sustainability developed at quite a young age – I remember that in year 7 I was on the green council and would spend my break times talking to the headmistress about recycling bins!

During my time at university, I chose modules which looked at environmental issues, development, labour markets, economic geography, and cultural geography. Sally Lloyd-Evans’s third-year module Global Justice, Labour and Development first introduced me to the idea of corporate social responsibility/ethical trade. In the module we looked at the responsibility that corporations have for their complex supply chains, welfare of all workers (head office to factory workers) and their impact on the environment. I was shocked to learn about the environmental and ethical issues within supply chains and as I was now aware of these issues, I wanted to be a part of solving them. It was this, and Sally’s passion, that inspired me to work in CSR – I wanted to help those that are often invisible to consumers/corporations and not given an opportunity to voice inequality.”


Meeting Heather

“In one of our lectures Sally mentioned that she knew a Reading graduate that now worked at M&S in the ethical trade department, so I asked to meet her. I met with Heather and I asked her what she did day to day and how she got into ethical trade. After our coffee, Heather would check how I was getting on and send me any job roles/work experience that she felt I would be interested in; I eventually landed work experience at New Look in their CSR department soon after graduation.

During my work experience, I was shown the basics such as the Ethical Trade Initiative Base Code (the ethical trade/CSR Ten Commandments!), different country risks, registering factories and suppliers, getting to know the supply base, looking at factory audits, looking at country minimum wages and minimum working ages etc. After two weeks, I was offered a job and have been working at New Look since August 2018. It is definitely an interesting area to work in as there are new challenges emerging all the time and I think as consumers become more aware, ethical trade and sustainability jobs will become vital to all businesses.”


Working for a better future

“I’m fortunate that I have been involved with both ethical trade and sustainability aspects of CSR. Most recently my role has focused on the sustainability side of the business, which has involved looking for more sustainable alternatives for our most used materials such as cotton, polyester and viscose. I have spent time engaging with the product teams to educate them on the positive impacts of these alternatives and encouraging them to increase their uptake of more sustainable alternatives in their products.

During my lectures with Sally, I remember learning about the inequalities that female farmers are often subject to, such as financial exclusion and reduced access to land, fertilisers, seeds, training and education. So, by increasing our organic cotton uptake, we are encouraging local farmers to use less toxic pesticides/fertilisers which are damaging to their health. We have also been working with Better Cotton Initiative, a not-for profit, which invests in projects that educate local farmers with better agricultural methods such as more efficient irrigation systems that ultimately increase their cotton yields and provide farmers with a better wage to provide for their families. This impacts women as in many developing countries the majority of agricultural workers are female.”


Paying it forward: student mentoring

“In the talk Heather and I recently gave to students, I discussed all the projects that we work on at New Look and what a normal day would be like for me. I think it was interesting for students to see the differences between my job in fashion, more sustainability-based, to Heather’s role in food, more ethical trade based – it highlighted that there is not a one size fits all approach to CSR, each corporation takes a slightly different angle. I also talked about how I got into CSR and what students could do to improve their CVs for a CSR job.

After giving the talk at Reading, I connected with students on LinkedIn so that I could forward job roles/ work experience to them and make sure I was available for students to ask me any questions they may have. Heather and I are hoping to return to Reading in the future to give lectures to more students to help them understand the realities of the industry and give advice on how to get into it. Or at least, raise awareness of the industry and encourage people to make more sustainable and ethical decisions in everyday life.

I think a part of being a mentor is often just being a friendly face as leaving university can be daunting if you don’t know what you want to do or where to start. Most students just need a push in the right direction of where to look for jobs or what a sort of job to apply for then everything falls into place. I also think it’s useful to be in contact with someone that you can relate to as it is likely that you will experience similar setbacks and you are also more likely to approach them for advice. I hope in the future when I am more experienced and established, I could potentially offer students a job or work experience to get them started in the industry. I just feel so grateful for Heather and Sally helping me get to where I am today that I wanted to support other students in a similar way.”


Ambitions for the future

“I plan to continue working in ethical trade/CSR within the fashion industry for a few more years as I think so much will change in the near future and enjoy the fast-paced environment. But I think looking further into the future, I would like to work for an NGO or charity which works directly with those in the supply chain such as, farmers, factory workers or homeworkers, as I would love to be involved with the projects that can positively impact them and create fairer working conditions.”

SAGES PGR Conference 2018

It is nearly that time of year again for the SAGES PGR Conference. May the 11th and 12th will see 17 third year students present their research to PGR students and staff from the whole school. There will also be posters and powerpoint slides on display from a total of 48 second and first year students. These presentations will be on a range of topics fitting into all of the University’s research themes; Prosperity and Resilience, Food, Health, Environment, and Heritage and creativity. This year in addition to these themes, the conference committee have also introduced sub-topics from the United Nation Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). Many of these goals encapsulate key aims of research across the School and exemplifies the global outreach potential of our School’s research. These sub-topics include; Climate Action, Life on Land, Life Below Water, Responsible Consumption and Production, Clean Water and Sanitation, Good Health and Well-Being, Sustainable Cities and Communities, and Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure to name a few.

Given the disparate topics of research covered in the Conference, the Committee have also invited two external speakers, to reflect the broad academic interests of our research community. We also wanted these talks to reflect different aspects of post-PhD life including securing post-docs, interacting with external and government bodies, and securing funding and grant money to fund research projects. Therefore, Dr Jess Neumann will open the conference on the Thursday morning. Jess completed her PhD in Woodland Biodiversity and Agriculture at the University of Reading in 2014, and currently has a postdoc position looking at whether improved meteorological forecasts lead to more skilful flood forecasts in the Thames at seasonal timescales. To close the conference on the Friday afternoon, Professor Naomi Sykes from the University of Exeter will join us. Professor Sykes’s work has focused on reconstructing bio-cultural histories with an emphasis on presenting her research in a palatable and creative format. She has collaborated closely with a range of non-academic organizations worldwide and has worked with the United Nations towards the sustainable development goals.

We hope this year’s programme will be of great interest to our students and staff alike and showcase the interdisciplinary and world-leading research of our PGR community. For further updates and information on the conference, follow #SAGESPGR18 on Twitter and read the abstracts of talks below.

PGR Conference Abstracts 2018

Congratulations to GES PhD students Anna Freeman and Rebecca Emerton for winning prizes in the 2016 Graduate School Research Image competition and Graduate School Research Poster competitions respectively.

Anna Freeman

Congratulations to GES PhD student Anna Freeman (supervisor Andrew Wade), who won First Prize in the Graduate School Research Image competition 2016, for her entry ‘Big world in a small drop’, which featured a stunning microscope photograph of zooplankton from Farmoor reservoir, near Oxford. Anna received her award at the Graduate School Doctoral Research conference in June. Well done Anna!

The Universirty of Reading Graduate School Doctoral Conference 2106.

The University of Reading Graduate School Doctoral Conference 2016.


Rebecca Emerton

Congratulations to GES PhD student Rebecca Emerton (supervisor Hannah Cloke), who won First Prize in the Graduate School Research Poster competition 2016, for her poster entitled ‘El Nino as a predictor of flood hazard’. Rebecca received her award at the Graduate School Doctoral Research conference in June. The standard of posters in this competition was extremely high, but the judges were impressed by the clarity with which Rebecca was able to present complex science. Well done Rebecca!

The Universirty of Reading Graduate School Doctoral Conference 2106.

The University of Reading Graduate School Doctoral Conference 2016.

GES Field Classes 2016!

Over the Easter break more than 100 students and staff from the Geography & Environmental Science department set off to explore Berlin, Naples or Crete for their annual field classes. Topics discussed ranged from the social production of history, contested urban space and the ‘transition’ movement in Berlin; exploring the volcanic activity near Mount Vesuvius; and the interaction between humans and the environment, tourism and biogeography in Crete.

Our staff and students documented their adventures on social media, so check out the Storify posts below for a real taste of what they got up to!





Reading student visits Madagascar with WaterAid and Scouts to help get water for all

UK Scout Jack Abrey, a first-year Geography student at Reading University, has recently embarked on an adventure with a difference – travelling to Madagascar with international charity WaterAid to help improve access to clean water and safe toilets across the country.

WaterAid works with the Scout Movement in Madagascar to campaign for water and toilets for all, and increase understanding of the importance of good hygiene among communities.

UK Scout Jack Abrey helps build a tippy tap at Kiadin'i Madagasikara Scout camp in Mantasoa, Madagascar. Credit to WaterAid/ Ernest Randriarimalala

UK Scout Jack Abrey helps build a tippy tap at Kiadin’i Madagasikara Scout camp in Mantasoa, Madagascar. Credit to WaterAid/ Ernest Randriarimalala

Jack, 19, and fellow Scouts Hannah Kentish and Becky Alexander, took the trip in conjunction with the ‘A Million Hands’ campaign to link with their Malagasy counterparts and see first-hand the impact of life without access to clean water and sanitation.

They will share their eye-opening experiences with 65,000 Scouts from across the UK, who have committed to ensuring everyone everywhere has access to clean water and sanitation as part of A Million Hands.

The trio camped with their fellow Malagasy Scouts, rising early for sports and ending the days around the campfire. They joined sessions on the importance of clean water, good sanitation and hygiene, and helped to build facilities at the camp, such as ‘tippy taps’ – a cheap way to wash hands where there is no tapped water. They also worked towards breaking down the taboos that shroud periods by joining discussions on menstrual hygiene and ways to educate others, even incorporating the subject into their campfire songs.

The participants will use these activities with Scouts back in the UK to help them gain an understanding of these important issues.

The young Brits also helped pass on the lifesaving messages to the wider community through performances and demonstrations at a ‘Dobodoboka’ – a type of festival organised by the Scouts with WaterAid on a busy market day.

Jack Abrey, 19, is Chair of the Community Impact Group at the Scouts Association, which is leading on the partnership. He said: “It was great to see how Scouts are working with WaterAid in Madagascar to transform lives by educating people about good sanitation and hygiene, as well as advocating for more investment in these basic facilities. I’ve been energised to take action on this important issue in the UK the ‘A Million Hands’.”

Jack saw why the work of WaterAid and the Scouts is so important when they visited Ambonidobo, a village that relies on dirty unsafe collected from a dirty pond. Lalasoa, 13, explained how she has to collect water twice a day, carrying 20 litres at a time up a treacherous hill.

Lalasoa said: “Fetching water is really tough because we have to climb up a very steep slope, and carrying the water gives me neck and head pain. The water is muddy and dirty.” 

WaterAid is set to start work imminently in the community to introduce clean water, toilets and good hygiene practices. 

The UK Scouts saw the difference these basic resources can make when they visited Manakasina, a community where WaterAid has worked to help transform lives

Jack added: “It was mind-blowing to see the changes clean water and good sanitation can bring. These basic resources are vital for a healthy and prosperous life, and I’m so proud that Scouts in the UK have chosen to take action on this important issue. Even by taking small actions, together we really can make a difference in poor communities in Madagascar and across the world.

UK Scouts Jack, Hannah and Becky join Tatiana, Tendry and Dylan to collect clean water from a new water point in their village, Manakasina, Madagascar. Credit to WaterAid/ Ernest Randriarimalala

UK Scouts Jack, Hannah and Becky join Tatiana, Tendry and Dylan to collect clean water from a new water point in their village, Manakasina, Madagascar. Credit to WaterAid/ Ernest Randriarimalala

“We learned so much about how we can join together with our Scout family in Madagascar, and across the world, to help get clean water and toilets for everyone everywhere.”   

A Million Hands gives half a million Scouts the opportunity to keep their promise to help other people and take action on four social issues they feel strongly about.

Keith Dunmall, Youth Engagement Manager at WaterAid, said: “It’s easy for us to take clean water and toilets for granted, but far too many young people in developing countries live without these basics, impacting on their health, dignity, and education.

“The UK Scouts visit to Madagascar demonstrated how young people really can drive change by uniting across the world.”

You can view a short video about their experiences here.


About A Million Hands campaign:

The A Million Hands campaign is enlisting half a million Scouts to work with some of the UK’s biggest charities – Mind, The Alzheimer’s Society (Dementia Friends), WaterAid, Guide Dogs for the Blind and the Leonard Cheshire Disability Trust – over the next four years.

The charities were chosen by Scouts themselves:

  • Ensuring everyone everywhere has access to clean water and sanitation.
  • Improving the lives of those affected by dementia.
  • Improving the lives of those disabled by society.
  • Improving the mental wellbeing and resilience of families.

A total of 209,000 young people have signed up to support A Million Hands; 34% selected water and sanitation as their issue, meaning around 65,000 will take action for WaterAid.  
For further information, visit: https://www.amillionhands.org.uk/

WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation.  The international organisation works in 37 countries across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific Region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities.  Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 23 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 21 million people with sanitation.  For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @WaterAidUK on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.

  • Around 900 children die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation.
  • Over 650 million people (around one in ten) are without safe water
  • Over 2.3 billion people (around one in three) live without improved sanitation
  • Just £15 can help provide one person with access to safe water.

Second year Environmental Science Students investigate soil fertility and fertiliser inputs on local gardens and allotments

By Georgina Smith, Rhys Bolt, Robyn Plummer, Alan Monk and Eleanor Wright


A group of five second year students have been set the task of investigating how people use fertilisers and pesticides in their gardens and allotments and the impact on soil fertility as part of a 20 credit real-life environmental consultancy module on the BSc Environmental Science and Geography degree programmes. This study will focus on the Earley area, which is located within the Loddon catchment.

How will this research help the wider community? This is an ideal opportunity for residents to get their soil tested for free. Phosphorus, nitrogen, pH and organic matter will be measured.  All factors are important for plant growth, and therefore knowing these soil properties will help residents understand their current soil fertility to inform their choices about the amount of fertiliser to apply.

How will students use the data?  The data obtained from the door-to-door survey and the analysis of soil samples will provide the students with information to produce quality analysis of soil in gardens in Earley and further information on the level of fertiliser and pesticide use.  Soil fertility will be compared to soil samples collected from the University of Reading farm at Arborfield to see if gardens are more or less fertile than farmers’ fields used for crop production. It is important to stress that all data will be anonymised and presented as aggregated values for the area, as strict data protection procedures in place.

“This is an exciting project as we know almost nothing about soil fertility, fertiliser and pesticide use within people’s gardens and allotments” says Dr Joanna Clark, module convenor.  Many urban areas were not mapped when the Soil Survey produced soil maps for England and Wales. Gardens and allotments are not subject to the same regulatory controls as agricultural land.

The project is being run in collaboration with Hampshire and Isle of Weight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT) who host the Loddon Catchment Partnership (LCP).  The LCP is part of a national network of Catchment Partnerships established to enable communities to take action to improve the quality of their water environment.

Please get in touch with Dr Joanna Clark (j.m.clark@reading.ac.uk) if you live in Earley and would like to take part in the survey.

Climate Change Talk at Fulham Preparatory School

In the latter part of November 2015, one of the SAGES doctoral researchers, Saeed Abdul-Razak, had the immense privilege to deliver a presentation to kids of the Fulham Preparatory School in London. The presentation was on the ethical dimensions of climate change and sustainable development with over 120 students in attendance. The talk employed interactive approaches including videos (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRLJscAlk1M), pictures and questions to the audience.

Harvey Glover presents fair trade chocolates to Saaed

Harvey Glover presents fair trade chocolates to Saaed

The kids were introduced to the causes of climate change, development problems around the globe, the new 2015 -2030 sustainable development goals and the role of climate change in achieving these goals. There were case studies from Ghana on climate change mitigation (precisely REDD+) and climate change adaptation (for coastal communities) to explain the ethical implications of climate action.


The ethical dimensions aspect of the topic was treated in light of decision making and processes between developed and developing countries at the international level; elites/authorities and citizens at national level; and for the community level, it focused on the vulnerable such as women, children, the poor, etcetera. The presentation concluded on a positive note by encouraging the students to go green, to think globally but act locally as the earth’s resources are finite and human action/inaction are important factors that impact everyone.

Letters from kids of FPS

Letters from kids of FPS

In appreciation for the talk, the school’s current head boy, Harvey Glover, presented Saeed with a jug of fair trade chocolates. A couple of weeks after the talk, the kids wrote lovely letters appreciating the talk and Saeed’s time; some expressed their new inspiration to be green; others had follow-up questions and the remaining expressed how informative the presentation was and how they shared the new knowledge on sustainable actions with their parents, families and friends in order to ‘save the future’.

Undergraduate Environmental Science students contribute to cutting-edge research

studentsBSc Environmental Science students Valentin Meneveau and Jennifer Lam present posters at the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP) conference.

Jennifer’s research worked to improve the resistance and resilience of soils to extreme flooding events. She discovered that by diversifying farming practices, soils could resist disturbances to a greater extent.

Valentin’s project investigated the genetic basis for arsenic accumulation in the leaves of vegetable plants and was able to identify specific genes that allowed the vegetables to resist elevated levels of arsenic in the soil.

UROP provides exciting opportunities for undergraduates to work with staff on research projects across the University, contributing directly to the creation of knowledge, building new skills and strengthening the link between teaching and research.

The UROP scheme gives undergraduate students in the middle years of their degree* the chance to work on real research projects alongside academic researchers, contributing to the creation of knowledge. UROP placements last six weeks over the summer break and are paid- students receive a bursary of £1,320.

#iwill Ambassador Blog

Abrey5On the 24th November 2015, I travelled to the Wayra Academy in Central London for the #iwill announcement event – where my new role as an ambassador officially began.

So, what is the #iwill campaign?

“#iwill is a national campaign that aims to make social action part of life for as many 10 to 20 year-olds as possible by the year 2020. Through collaboration and partnership it is spreading the word about the benefits of youth social action, working to embed it in the journey of young people and create fresh opportunities for participation.” –Step Up To Serve

The campaign is all about harnessing the energy and talents of the UK’s young people and using that energy to undertake positive social action, be it locally, nationally or internationally. It recognises the dual benefit of social action: you help others and in doing so, you help yourself! Be it personal satisfaction, skills development, employability etc. social action truly is a dual benefit activity. I believe EVERYONE should get involved from helping to break the wholly unacceptable stigma surrounding mental health (especially in young people), fighting for clean water and sanitation globally, to reducing social isolation in those living with Dementia – the opportunities and possibilities are endless. Find your cause and get cracking!


During the event I had the honour to meet and chat social action with none other than HRH The Prince of Wales (a patron of the campaign). He is a true believer in the power of young people and has invested hugely in ensuring our media image improves – we’re not all ‘yobs’ despite being referred to as such 591 times in national newspapers in 2011.

Change affects our generation in a big way. But we’re going to be the generation that affects change in an even bigger way.

#iwill, will you?!


Jack Abrey, Geography (Human and Physical) 1st Year

If you want to read more about why I’m an ambassador you can follow this link to my Ambassador profile.

Somerset Field Class

Students happy to see some autumn sunshine!

Students happy to see some autumn sunshine!

145 Geography & Environmental Science students visited Somerset during Enhancement Week for their first field class! Dr Steve Musson gives the details below…

Students often tell us that field classes are one of the most memorable and enjoyable parts of their University experience. At the University of Reading, we are always looking for ways to get beyond the lecture theatre, where we can put research skills into practice. Our first year students have just come back from Somerset, on a brand new three-night field class that developed new skills and left plenty of time for students to get to know one another – and our teaching staff – better.

We travelled to Kilve Court Field Centre, near Bridgewater in Somerset, during the mid-term Enhancement Week, in which students take a break from their normal teaching routine and develop new skills. Somerset is an ideal place to encounter a wide range of geographical and environmental processes and our research activities covered cultural and social geography, biogeography and quaternary science.

Reaching the top of Glastonbury Tor

Reaching the top of Glastonbury Tor

We arrived at Kilve Court in dramatic fog, which made it difficult to get a sense of the surrounding landscape that included the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. After dropping off our bags and checking in to the accommodation, we made the short climb up to Quantock Common and were delighted when the fog cleared above 180 metres. We emerged onto warm, sunny heath land, while the fog remained in the valleys below us. Students discussed the vegetation change we had seen during the short climb and the cultural significance of this special place.

Over the next two days, we divided into smaller groups, with each rotating through four half-day fieldwork activities. In Glastonbury, Dr Steve Musson led a climb up the famous Tor and students spoke to local people about the myth and legend associated with the area. Professor Hannah Cloke shared her expertise in hydrology to explain the recent flooding of the Somerset Levels and the special role water plays in the local culture of the Isle of Avalon.

At nearby Shapwick Heath, Dr Nick Branch and Dr Hazel McGoff gave students their first experience of sediment core sampling. Analysis has continued back in our labs at Reading, to reconstruct the environmental history of the area over tens of thousands of years. Dr Geoff Griffiths introduced students to landscape ecology, modelling the impacts of woodland planting on flooding. Again, we are using sophisticated spatial analysis software to interpret our results back in Reading.

The Somerset Field Class is the first part of the Research Training Pathway that runs through our degrees in Geography and Environmental Science. There are more field class opportunities in the Second and Third Years, to places like Berlin, Crete, Naples and Almeria. These develop advanced-level skills that build on the work we did in Somerset and allow students to plan and carry out their own fieldwork as part of their Third Year dissertation.


Check out the Storify of the trip for the best tweets & photos!