Geography (Oxford) Personal Statement
Much of my initial enthusiasm for Geography stemmed from the fact that it encompasses so many of the factors that shape both my local area and my life within it. Concerns surrounding rural depopulation and the eventual closure of my former primary school, broadband availability or the siting of wind turbines would have intrigued me in their own right, regardless of further study, yet pursuing the subject has enabled me to develop an understanding of the wider significance of such issues. Learning how all are aspects of challenges which transcend local politics opened my eyes to the fact that Geography not only identifies such problems, be they social, economic or environmental, but is vital in developing workable solutions.
A recent AS unit on population illustrated Geography's interdisciplinary nature. Through exploring not just the distribution of but also the reasons behind particular case-studies, the topic melded together an understanding of politics, culture and history, allowing me to gain insight from both A-level History and Philosophy. The notion of assimilating data from across the spectrum of the social and physical sciences is one that seems common across the field of Geography, and the potential breadth and depth of study this offers is something that has long attracted me to a degree. While I have also enjoyed learning the extent to which models can aid our understanding through conceptualising both demographic change and globalisation, studying the occasional limitations of this abstract approach fascinates me. Reading Richard Dowden's book 'Africa', and indeed the travel writing of Michael Palin and Rory Stewart, underlined how such generalising laws may overlook the unique circumstances of a nation or region, especially in relation to development levels.
My lifetime love of reading means that exploring books, newspapers and periodicals such as National Geographic or The Economist has long been a habit, and an awareness of context heightens my enjoyment of topics encountered in school. It is also rewarding when the overlaps between current affairs and the Geography syllabus grant me a new perspective on issues such as population control, words which even today evoke an uncomfortable response. The frequency at which this occurs reminds me of the diverse and rewarding career paths down which a Geography degree could take me.
Since May, I have worked towards an Open University module entitled 'Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tsunamis' as part of their Young Applicants Scheme. Pitched at an undergraduate level, the absorbing nature of the course affirmed my intention to pursue a Geography degree, while developing my skills of independent study. Similarly, taking AS Computing alongside my GCSEs taught me the importance of good time management, forcing me to prioritise and balance my work and interests outside of school. The emphasis both opportunities placed upon logical, scientific approaches to problems enabled me to continue building upon GCSE science and mathematics, and apply these when tackling complex ideas at A-level.
Volunteering to teach members of the University of the Third Age allowed me to put my interest in IT to use in a team environment. Though adapting to the differing ability levels of class members meant that the lessons offered a constant challenge, I gained confidence in my ability to
communicate difficult ideas successfully on both a one-to-one basis and when leading the group. Taking part in a Young Enterprise company, acting as a defence lawyer in a 'mock trial' and serving on the school council let me advance this further, and will serve me well in my role as a prefect this year.
I am confident that my experiences will enable me to adapt quickly to the pressures of a degree, and thus enable me to make the most of the opportunities university life offers. I eagerly look forward to taking an active role in a Geography department and working with people who share my passion for the subject.
Accepted by: Oxford Bristol St Andrews Exeter Durham