While applying to Oxford, I was very aware that I was giving up my job and making a leap into academia, so I wanted the transition to give me what I wanted: independence, paired with intellectual guidance.
Mansfield has been one of Oxford’s major Geography colleges since the early 1970s. The College admits 8 or 9 Geographers each year, and there are usually about 12 postgraduate Geographers as well. Geographers have long played a leading role in sporting, social as well as academic aspects of College life. There is a flourishing Geographical society, the 1887 Society, which organises a variety of social and other events including an annual dinner to which many former Mansfield Geographers return.
Mansfield is the nearest college to the School of Geography and within five minutes’ walk of the Bodleian Library, Rhodes House (for Commonwealth books and journals) and the Radcliffe Science Library (for human and physical geography). Mansfield’s own library has one of the best College collections of Geography books.
The three Geography tutors all have rooms in college and are readily available to students who need help or support. Dr McCormack's interests lie in the area of cultural geography - i.e. he is interested in the many ways people experience and make sense of spaces. His work focuses in particular on the affective/emotional dimensions of this process. Dr Berry is a biogeographer with interests in plant ecology and the ecological impacts of climatic change. Dr Powell's research and teaching interests encompass geographies of science, political economies of resources and the geopolitics of territory. They share the tutorial teaching of those parts of the geography course which are common to all students, whilst each student is normally assigned to one of the three Mansfield tutors for guidance concerning his or her undergraduate dissertation. College tutorials, normally in pairs, are supplemented by classes where appropriate. Those parts of the course which are a matter of choice - Special Subjects in the second and third years - are taught by the appropriate specialist tutors inside and outside the College.
Since 1992, the second and third year Geographers have joined in `reading weeks’, usually in the Lake District. A former geographer has generously endowed most of the cost of renting and a large house. These combine private reading, seminars and classes, walking and other pursuits. All Mansfield Geographers have the chance to participate at least once.
Thanks to the generosity of former students, Mansfield also has a travel fund to assist undergraduates who choose to do their dissertations overseas. The Henty Fund exists to assist ‘ambitious or unusual travel’ and to finance a prize for the best 2nd year performance in Geography.
We find that most employers welcome an Oxford Geography degree as evidence of a broad intellectual training, development of specific IT and other skills, and understanding of many important social-economic, political and environmental issues. Some Mansfield Geographers go on to do research degrees or more vocationally orientated postgraduate degrees including law conversion courses. Many pursue careers in management, consultancy or commercial research, others in teaching, health administration and local government. A significant proportion take challenging posts overseas.
We are very happy to discuss potential applications and to meet applicants at open days or other times. Provided that you have taken Geography at A level or equivalent, the precise combination of other academic subjects is not important. Applications are welcome from both pre and post A2 (or equivalent) candidates from all kinds of schools and backgrounds. We are happy to make deferred offers to candidates with worthwhile ‘gap year’ plans.
We ask you to submit two pieces of recent work - preferably essays or similar pieces of AS or A2 marked coursework (or equivalent), rather than field or project work. We interview everyone who has a chance of success. You will meet all three of the geography tutors in the course of two interviews, with a chance of a further interview if you feel that you have not done yourself justice. We are interested in assessing potential and ability to think and develop arguments, rather than just factual knowledge. The emphasis in interview is on encouraging you to do justice to yourself and reveal your potential. Commitment to and enthusiasm for Geography are important qualities.
In the event of the College having more deserving Geography applicants than places, we try hard (usually with some success) to find places in other Colleges.