Choosing environmental science at Reading
Before starting her BSc Environmental Science degree at the University of Reading, Raquel Jurado had never lived in the UK. Making the choice to relocate was aided by online research as to what the Department and University offered.
“When looking at where to study I saw that the BSc Environmental Science course at Reading has a really strong reputation. The field class offerings were also attractive and the summer or full year placement information looked good. The lovely campus is a real bonus, as is its proximity to London."
Raquel fully embraced life in the Department of Geography and Environmental Science at Reading, where she significantly developed both her academic and life skills. Raquel was a passionate ambassador for the Department, regularly speaking to prospective students about what it's like to study at Reading, including Open Days and as a course rep.
Choosing topics of personal interest
As a student in the School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science at Reading, Raquel also had the opportunity to study alongside students and academics in schools such as Agriculture, Policy and Development and Biological Sciences, benefiting from leading academic expertise across the University and a healthy culture of collaboration.
The University of Reading is ranked in the top 100 in the world for Environmental Sciences (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022).
“One of the reasons I love Environmental Science is that it's so broad and you can do any subjects ranging from physical science to management. It allowed me to identify an area I'm passionate about; the agricultural field of environmental science including food, climate, science and sustainability."
In the Department of Geography and Environmental Science students benefit from working with internationally recognised academics researching and teaching global topics. The range of teaching expertise and methods is something that really stood out to Raquel.
“I enjoyed learning from passionate academics who made the sessions interactive. I remember a module on soil science that I was originally hesitant about, but the academics were so engaging that I really liked it. Each lecturer provides different methodologies and ways of teaching so we don't just get one way of looking at things.
"One highlight was a second-year module on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) which helped me learn about digital mapping, landscape assessment and forecasting climate. This was challenging but really enjoyable. The teaching and support on GIS from Dr Jess Neumann and Dr Rob Fry here was fantastic."
Field classes are a key part of training for students in the Department of Geography and Environmental Science, enhancing subject knowledge with real life experience. The Department is situated on Whiteknights campus, and its green space and wildlife provides a living laboratory for students.
“The field trips were a real highlight. Here I was able to use the skills I'd learnt from my studies, for example analysing old marine sediments in Spain. Interacting with others and the environment was a great experience, and being able to use our campus for practicals was definitely a bonus.”
Field classes also offer students a great way to get to know their fellow classmates.
"In the first year we had a field trip to Somerset in our first term. This was such a great way to meet people from the Department and spend more time with them.
"I met more people on the BSc Environmental Science course and with only 20 or so of us on the course we all knew each other, started hanging out, and working on our assignments together.”
Raquel's field trips in her final year were unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19, however the Department quickly came up with an alternative.
“Through the use of apps such as StoryMap, Google Maps and YouTube I was able to virtually visit Naples! It was a fantastic alternative and a way of exploring a city from a different perspective.
"I have developed other fieldwork skills such as virtual weather modelling and satellite imagery which complement the skills I have gained from other field trip experiences.”
Career and employability support
Our course helps to equip students with the experience and skills required to progress into further study or employment. Support is offered both by the Department and by the wider University.
“The Department has their own employability and skills session to help students. During my second year I took a module called Research Training which helped us build a CV based on applying for certain types of jobs as well as other items.
"The Careers Centre also offers support and I've attended CV sessions and employability talks, including international development. There are so many resources available for students to choose from."
Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP)
Following the completion of her second year Raquel spent a six-week summer placement with the Department of Meteorology through the UROP. Raquel became so intrigued by the research she worked on in this time, that she would eventually write her dissertation on it.
The UROP offers undergraduate students the chance to gain hands-on research experience on projects covering all disciplines across University.
After attending sessions with Alexandra Baker and Rob Batchelor, who support the Department of Geography and Environmental Science with placements, Raquel made an application to UROP.
“The programme sounded interesting and a great chance to look into research as a career as I'd been working on this in my first and second year.”
Following an interview process, Raquel linked up with Professor Keith Shine, from the Department of Meteorology at Reading.
“The amount of knowledge Professor Shine has is incredible and being able to ask questions and spend time with him was really valuable. During the programme I was an Assistant Data Researcher looking into UN policies of greenhouse gases and how they have changed through time and could be improved.
"Some of the data I helped to produce will be published in the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report (2021), in which Professor Shine plays a key role. Having this research placement is very useful for my CV, especially if I look to progress my career in research.
"I'm very excited to see what I'll do following the completion of my degree.”