26 May 2022

Geography students publish research article

A paper by students in the Department of Geography has been published in a major international journal, The Geographical Journal.

A student holds a stress ball with a globe pattern

The students may be the youngest authors to appear in the journal, published by The Royal Geographical Society (RGS).

A group of students, from first years to postgraduates, worked with Professor Richard Phillips to investigate student experiences of lockdown. The designed and developed the research together, agreeing on research questions and methods. Each student interviewed three peers and also conducted a self-interview, exploring student life under
lockdown conditions, and exploring what became of friendships and experiences of loneliness.

The team also worked with curators at the Science Museum in London, contributing to the National Covid Collection, which the Museum had launched. The Museum has now acquired items collected by the students including handwritten notes from interviews in books, and objects that participants provided, representing their experiences of lockdown. These include a tin of yeast, contributed by a student to represent their time baking bread to share with housemates, and a ‘globe stress ball’ that a student received as part of a care package from their department, during a period of self isolation.

"The project was really awarding to work on," said Edward Walker, one of the published students. "I enjoyed understanding greater what goes into the production of the journal articles we so frequently read as part of the course. It was good to be able to work beyond the restrictions of assessed work and produce something more relevant to current affairs. Interviewing my peers was a good reflective process for us all and has given more confidence for producing my dissertation."

Rose McEnroe, co-author of the paper, said of her experience: "Being a fresher in 2020/21, with the lockdowns, endless guidelines and the aftermath of 2020, shaped our first experiences of university in such a massive and unique way I wanted our stories to be told to people outside the bubble of locked-down halls. The experience of recording this period through our research was really rewarding and important as without it I think we would have forgotten the resilience students had to show during that time."

The paper - Student loneliness through the pandemic: how, why and where? - is free to read online.