Conferences and workshops

Weekly seminars and reading groups

Both Human and Physical Geography have exciting seminar series, where guest speakers visit to talk on their current research.

The seminars are useful for debating and networking with leaders in their field, for deepening knowledge in specific areas, and for broadening appreciation of the many areas of research that geography encompasses.

There are reading groups on specific themes, problematics, authors and texts. These involve both staff and postgraduates and prove a great way to engage in constructive debate in a supportive, pressure-free environment.

Departmental links

All research groups benefit from having close links with other departments in the University.

Geographers regularly participate in and organise events that draw diverse audiences, such as from: Deaf Studies, Drama, Education, Law, Politics and Sociology (Human Geography); and Earth Sciences, Chemistry and Engineering (Physical Geography).

Hosting events

Members of the school are affiliated with the research groups of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG); this year Bristol hosted the Historical Geography Research Group (HGRG) Postgraduate Training Conference.

The 17th British Cave Research Association Cave Science Symposium was hosted in the school. The school also hosted a British Hydrological Society meeting, focusing on recent South West research on the use of models for environmental decision-making.

There are also opportunities for postgraduates to host their own events. In February, final year postgraduate Charlie Rolfe organised and chaired an interdisciplinary workshop on ‘Creativity: the Word, Concept and Practice’.

International discussion

Bristol Geography regularly collaborates with universities worldwide. There is the lively set of virtual seminars of the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN). Lectures and roundtable discussions take place using video-conferencing facilities, with an international audience and high calibre speakers.

In 2005-6, there were WUN seminars on the theme of globalisation, on GI Science, and on abrupt changes in past, present and future earth systems.

Training and workshops

There are plenty of training events postgraduates can attend in order to learn new skills, deepen their knowledge and produce better research.

In April each year, new human geographers attend the Wessex Consortium training event at Cumberland Lodge, in Windsor Great Park, where they meet PhD students from other universities, attend lectures from invited speakers, discuss academic life and career prospects, meet socially, and present their research intentions.

Likewise, the British Geomorphological Research Group provides a similar workshop for geographers at the same location.

A number of more specialised summer school events are also available to students. The annual QUEST Earth System Summer School hosted in the School of Earth Sciences offers lectures and practical's given by well-known authorities in their fields.

Glaciologists and hydrologists alike also benefit from the interdisciplinary approach to fluid dynamics at the Geophysical and Environmental Fluid Dynamics summer school hosted by Cambridge University.

The school also receives a transferable skills fund from the UK Research Councils, known as the Roberts Skills Fund, which it uses to periodically host skills- and career-based events, the themes of which are chosen by current students to meet their individual, professional requirements.

Recent examples have included courses on career development and graphing and bibliographic software. These seminars are hosted in-house and are additional to the many events which are run at faculty level throughout the year.

Case study

  • Debbie Lister

    “My research investigates the role of nature in tourism. I’m concerned with how nature affects human bodies through mundane and technologically mediated practices, and ultimately how place and self come into being.

    Fieldwork has been the most rewarding part of my PhD. Aside from the knowledge that I’ve gained, it’s given me the opportunity to explore some of the more remote parts of my home country and experience, first hand, its non-human agency: climbing mountains, gazing at the northern lights, driving 4WD super-jeep vehicles on the Vatnajökull glacier, forging mercilessly cold glacial rivers, looking reindeer in the eyes...

    I’m forever grateful for those experiences and to the people I met who graciously shared their knowledge and lives with me. The whole thing has been amazing.”

    Gunnþóra Ólafsdóttir BSc (Iceland)