There are usually eight undergraduates in each year studying Geography at Mansfield.
Geography at Mansfield is a diverse, open, and inclusive community of students, tutors, and alumni. We provide a supportive and academically stimulating environment in which all of our students, regardless of background, can realise their potential as scholars and as people. We share a commitment to Geography as a subject which, by combining the social and natural sciences, provides a particularly relevant university choice for young people interested in understanding and addressing the complex challenges of the contemporary world. Our role at Mansfield is to facilitate your engagement with the wide range of critical, analytical, and technical skills offered by the Geography degree at Oxford. After your three years at Mansfield you will be well placed to pursue the many career pathways opened up by Geography and also more informed of your capacities to transform the world in which you live.
Teaching and Learning
We usually welcome 8 students to Mansfield every year. These figures may seem small but Mansfield is actually one of Oxford’s larger Geography colleges. We are a lively and diverse community of approximately 24 undergraduates. We work to foster an atmosphere and ethos of co-operative and collaborative learning between students. Rather than seeing their peers as competitors, we encourage our students to work with and learn from one another. We think this is the best context within which to support the development of your individual learning throughout your degree.
At Mansfield you will be taught in small tutorial groups, supplemented by slightly larger classes where appropriate. These tutorials are designed to allow you to explore in depth the material covered in the lectures at the School of Geography and the Environment. For much of the teaching on core and compulsory components in years 1, 2, and 3, you will be taught in tutorial groups of between 2 and 4 students, usually with one of our three Geography tutors. Professor Derek McCormack and Dr Amber Murrey will teach you much of the core human geography papers, while you will cover the physical geography material with Dr Ash Parton. In the second and third year you will choose a range of option subjects which are taught by the appropriate specialist tutors inside and outside the College.
While our teaching at Mansfield is centred on the tutorial system, we also realise that learning takes place in many forms and contexts. When appropriate we therefore move beyond the classroom to include more experiential and experimental forms of learning. This has involved, for instance, walking tours of the city of Oxford, during which students have been encouraged to consider the histories of imperialism through the architecture and spatiality of the city and the university. In 2020, Dr Amber Murrey and Dr Ash Parton collaborated to host a ‘Food Journey’ which encouraged students to think across human and physical geography to understand global agri-business, food geographies, and the implications of climate change for European food production and consumption. The event culminated in a multisensory, blindfolded food theatre, curated by a food justice organisation, Community Centred Knowledge. For us these kinds of experiences are an important part of the curiosity-driven teaching and learning that characterises Geography.
At all stages of your time at Oxford your tutors at Mansfield will be available to offer advice, guidance, and feedback. In the second year of your degree we will help you develop your dissertation projects. This involves designing and undertaking a significant piece of independent research. Students often find the dissertation to be one of the most rewarding aspects of their degree, and they pursue a remarkably diverse range of independent research topics that in many cases inform their future careers. In recent years students have worked on projects including climate change, transport infrastructure, healthcare and refugees, social media and tourism, and many, many others. Our students produce excellent work, and we are proud that this is often recognised by their nomination for and award of dissertation prizes by the research groups of the Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers. In addition, our students have in recent years been awarded a range of university prizes for their outstanding performance in first year and final exams.
Life after Mansfield
We recognise that students from a range of backgrounds choose university subjects (and universities) for many different reasons. We understand that at the forefront of many of these choices is employability. We know from experience that Geography graduates are eminently qualified to pursue careers across many different fields. Employers value our graduates’ combination of demonstrable expertise in written and oral communication, analytical skills and understanding of 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. At Mansfield we are as proud of the success of our students after they leave us as we are of their achievements during their studies here. We are also fortunate to be able to meet frequently with members of our extended community at an annual event to which many former students return.
Mansfield has a longstanding reputation as an intellectually rigorous college particularly welcoming of students from state schools and from marginalised and disadvantaged communities. Do not worry if you have not previously studied Geography as it is not an entry requirement – we welcome applications from anyone from whatever background with an interest in understanding why the world is the way it is and how it could be different. For detailed information about how to apply, please see 'Apply' on the website of the School of Geography and Environment.