What do geographers do on their Christmas holidays?

It’s the first ‘full’ week back after Christmas, and many of us in the department have been talking about what we did over the holidays. Lots of eating, drinking and being merry, of course (see the picture below – member of staff asked not to be named!), but people did lots of exciting things too. To give a sense of the kind of things that geographers can get up to, here are only a few of the activities

Eat drink and be meery, but "Hoppy Christmas"?! And is that a game of thrones mug?!

Eat drink and be merry, but “Hoppy Christmas”?! And is that a Game of Thrones tankard?!

Sam Wong

Sam spent his Christmas break in Africa, doing participatory research in Uganda. He visited the African Jewish community in Mbale, and worked with a local group in Northern Uganda who are concerned about a potential ‘land grab’ which could affect their community.

Mbale, Ugana (Photo by Isak Aronsson)

Mbale, Ugana (Photo by Isak Aronsson)

Alex Nurse

Keen cyclist Alex braved the weather and explored some of Merseyside and Lancashire:

“After a spending a week enjoying a wide selection of dinners, buffets and cakes, I went for a 50 mile/3 hour spin on my bike through the Lancashire Lanes in some of the finest weather the North West had to offer us this festive season.  Climbing Moss Bank and Shaley brow and returning to Liverpool through a warren of quiet, Belgium-esque lanes via Skelmersdale, the weather meant that the top of each big hill was wrapped in the clouds – with stinging rain making each descent that little bit more difficult than usual.  The description might not seem like it, but it was some of the most fun I’ve had on my bike in a good while!”


Beverley Todd

Bev took a well-earned break from her PhD research:

” Just over three and a half years into my desk-based PhD on drought events in the UK I decided to put the colouring pencils down and switch off the computer for a proper Christmas break, and to avoid the temptation to sneak into the Roxby over the holiday period I jumped on a (crowded!) Ryanair flight to Rome for two weeks. I managed to explore southern Italy’s mountains, coasts, ruins and (perhaps equally as important) the local food! Luckily I got to travel with some native Italians and got a real insight into Italian culture, cuisine, history and geography – what a fun place to discover and a real treat for every geographer, with volcanoes, stretching coastlines and archaeological relics for you to track down. And as well as the fun stuff there are some real opportunities for real geographical research, which our very own Professor Lang and Dr Mauz conduct using stalagmites from some of Italy’s caves. As for me, its power on, pencils at the ready and the small matter of a PhD to finish by Christmas 2013… I may just need to book a return trip!”

The Salerno Coastline, Southern Italy

The Salerno Coastline, Southern Italy

Richard Chiverrell

Richard had a normal Christmas, apart from the moment he learned to walk on water while seeing the effects of some of the recent flooding that has affected the UK in Bidford on Avon!

Who says geography doesn't have spiritual power?

Richard demonstrating a skill you can learn by doing geography!

Dan Schillereff

“Daniel enjoyed a slightly different Christmas period to previous years by spending three weeks with Lee Bradley (a member of staff until recently) exploring the reasonably high hills of Nepal. Ten days trekking took us to Annapurna Base Camp (photo) and our first ever look at an 8000 m peak (Annapurna I; in the background of our group shot). The fact the other peaks surrounding us were 6000 – 7000 m was not lost on us either… Truly stunning scenery. Every element of geography is covered in this small country, from rivers to landslides, geopolitics to glaciers, development to demography. This meant one thought was continually on our minds… To what funding source shall we apply in search of financial support to conduct field work in Nepal??”

Dae, Lee and their guide, Nalam

Dae, Lee and their guide, Nalam, at Annapurna Base Camp

All in all, it’s good to see everyone back safe and sound, and the Roxby Building is coming back to life as students return back to the University Campus and prepare for the new semester. Here’s wishing everyone safe travels and geographical journeys in 2013!

Essay writing for exams (and more)

A blog on how to write academic essays by Andy Davies, one of our Lecturer’s, which he was asked to write by some students recently.

Andy Davies's Blog

So, it’s that season when exams are just around the corner and someone asked me to put some advice for students on how to write essays during exams up here. I’m pretty sure that most people will know this stuff, or have further suggestions, but here is a list of things that I think are important. This also means that other people may value things differently  – but as we shall see, that is why we all write differently! I may add more as time goes on, and feel free to add suggestions in the comments below. I’ve split them up into some broad categories to help.

On writing

1 – Firstly,writing is something which is very personal. We all write in different ways and as a result, I don’t think there is such a thing as a ‘model’ answer – each person will structure things differently and write things…

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3 sides to this argument – Argentina, the Falkland Islands and the UK

This blog by Dr Matt Benwell on the Falkland Islands appeared on the University of Liverpool website earlier this week – it appears here with some added links:

The latest chapter in deteriorating Anglo-Argentine relations caused by territorial disputes in the South West Atlantic and Antarctica appears at face value to cover familiar diplomatic ground. One might justifiably ask, ‘Haven’t we been here before?’ Argentina thinks of a ‘creative’ way to present its claim to what it calls Las Malvinas, as it has done on previous occasions through television and newspaper advertisements released on significant anniversaries associated with the sovereignty dispute. The UK government robustly responds in kind, by restating its support for the Falkland Islanders and reaffirming their legitimate rights to self-determination. The nature of these diplomatic exchanges would seem to, once again, overlook the third and arguably most significant party in this geopolitical feud: the Falkland Islanders themselves. Indeed, it would be hard not to have some sympathy with the at best, consistent marginalisation of Islander’s perspectives and at worst, denial of their legitimate rights to exist as a community. Notwithstanding these challenges the Falkland Islanders are fighting back. On a diplomatic level the Falkland Islands Government is to hold a referendum in March 2013 which will give every Islander the ability to choose how they wish the territories to be governed. The referendum, fully supported by the Foreign Office and to be supervised by international observers, is symbolic because it will emphasise the agency of Islanders to project their voices in a dispute that has so often been dominated by politicians in Argentina and the UK. Citizens of the Falkland Islands are also increasingly taking it upon themselves to express their agency personally through social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook. The words #Falklands and #Malvinas have been trending on Twitter in the days following the publication of the Argentine President’s open letter to the Prime Minister, as citizens, politicians and organisations from around the world engage in the debate. Borges’ rather dismissive claim that the territorial dispute in the South West Atlantic was akin to ‘two bald men fighting over a comb’ has never looked further from the truth, particularly when the potential riches underneath the South West Atlantic are factored into the equation. Most interestingly, the Falkland Islanders through their @falklands_utd Twitter account have written a collective open letter to the Argentine President. In their riposte they state, “Our home is a British Overseas Territory, not a Colony as you seemingly wish to convince people. Through our right to self-determination as enshrined by the United Nations we can choose to associate ourselves with whomever we so choose. We choose to maintain our relationship with the United Kingdom in this way.” While Argentina continually refuses to engage with the Islanders and recognise the legitimacy of their government, the Island’s citizens, politicians and support groups are taking to online platforms to undertake their own forms of ‘digital diplomacy’. If we wish to acknowledge, listen to and understand all sides of this complex geopolitical issue into 2013 and beyond, social networking will become an increasingly critical tool.