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Charlie Mariner first explored the University of Reading at an Open Day. The green campus, friendly atmosphere and modern facilities immediately stood out, and after receiving an offer to study BSc Geography (Physical), accepting his place was a "no brainer".

“The University of Reading's campus was unlike anything I had visited, as it felt like a home away from home. The campus is at the heart of everything, while the proximity to London meant real ease of access.”

Diverse, relevant degree

“The Physical Geography course gave great flexibility on the modules you could choose, and this meant that I could find what I enjoyed the most and focus towards that for my final year.”

For Charlie, studying a relevant, diverse subject was something that appealed and allowed him to study global issues that he is passionate about.

“The diversity that the subject brings is exciting, from volcanoes and floods to the political implications of climate change.

"During my studies I identified water as my main area of interest. I was able to study a module on water politics looking at how world powers manoeuvre around the water issues of today. In my final year I completed my dissertation, which focused on critiquing a flood-flow model.”

Inspiring academics

The Department of Geography and Environmental Science is made up of internationally renowned and award-winning academics, whose research expertise feeds directly into the topics studied throughout the degree.

This allowed Charlie, with his passion in water, access to academics such as Professor Hannah Cloke, who is making significant global contributions in flood forecasting and Professor Andrew Wade who specialises in hydrology.

“During my dissertation, supervised by Professor Andrew Wade, I could often find out more about what he was studying. A second-year module on hydrology along with Andrew's expertise were a key reason in me becoming so interested in water processes.

"The lecturers were fantastic at transferring their detailed knowledge of their specialist subjects, and this helped to reinforce the learning throughout my studies.”

Field class experiences

For students studying in the Department of Geography and Environmental Science, field classes are a key part of the learning experience. During these classes students can develop skills in field techniques and observation, data analysis and presentation, field observation skills, and teamwork and life skills.

"These trips were some of the best experiences of my life as they allowed me to study what I was interested in with some great people in some great places. These trips gave variety to the course and helped break up classroom-based learning by carrying out fieldwork."

Developing key skills

Charlie acknowledges that the jump to university was challenging, but found the support from academics in the Department, University online tools such as referencing help, his fellow classmates and personal determination the key to his success.

“My confidence in my ability increased during my studies. I was actively involved in the course, which helped me to meet like-minded people. Work included essays, diaries, presentations and fieldwork, which taught me a wide range of skills I can apply moving forward.”

Following graduation, Charlie took a job as a catastrophe risk analyst with Willis Towers Watson, a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients manage risk. Here, Charlie is able to apply learnings from his studies at the University of Reading.

“Data analysis and technical skills are highly important in my current role, and something I was able to study back in a first year Meteorology module.

"I also developed technical skills, including use of R programming language and the WALRUS model - used during my dissertation. I currently use a similar programming language to analyse data at Willis Towers Watson.

"Presentation skills are also important and developing these at Reading has aided me in explaining data to clients.”

Career opportunities

In his role with Willis Towers Watson, Charlie focuses on catastrophe events and modelling losses experienced by clients during these events.

Charlie explains:

“The way we normally work is that we receive exposure information from our clients, we then must refine this information before running it through models which give loss estimations for natural catastrophe events based on their exposure. These loss movements from year to year then must be explained.

"I am passionate about what I do and I am looking to continue my professional development moving forward.”

Discover our BSc Geography (Physical) course