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Student Diary | A Day in the Life of a Geography & Planning Student

Student Diary | A Day in the Life of a Geography & Planning Student

by Hannah

Curious to find out what a typical day is like for a Geography and Planning student? Find out why Hannah chose to study her subject, and what she thinks of the reality of student life...

University life is about so much more than just your studies and your degree. For many of us, it is the first time we are living away from home, so is a new and exciting experience where we develop new skills, pursue new hobbies and make new friends. I have chosen a day in my life which I hope captures a few different aspects of university life, beyond simply the academic part.


Most days I set an alarm at least 2 hours before my first lecture of the day, allowing myself time to get up, take a shower, make a healthy breakfast and prepare for the day ahead of me. Once I’ve had breakfast, I mull over the lecture slides on Blackboard (the University’s virtual learning hub) with a cup of tea and make brief notes, looking up any terms that I don’t understand so that I can go into the lecture feeling more prepared to take in the topic. Today I have two morning lectures, both of which are for Geography modules.


I set off for university around 20 minutes before my lecture starts, which is plenty of time to get almost anywhere on campus in good time. The walk usually takes between 10 and 15 minutes, so setting off early leaves me plenty of time for a leisurely stroll with my headphones on and my favourite songs playing. Today is a pretty chilly day, so I wrap up warm with a big coat, hat and gloves. I would recommend these as essential items for students living in Newcastle.


The first lecture of the day begins! It is for the module ‘Geographical Analysis’, where we are currently looking at semi-structured interviews and how to conduct them, as our piece of assessed work for this module requires us to carry out ethical geographical research based on qualitative, rather than quantitative data. This lecture is very engaging, and everyone enjoys a clip on the ‘Jedi Census Phenomenon,’ which demonstrates how unreliable quantitative (or numerical) data can be in representing the experience of a population. I recommend looking up this example as it is quite a fun way to learn about the shortfalls of depending on numbers alone.


My second lecture is about boundaries, borders and nationalism, within the political geographies block of the module ‘Human Geographies of the UK’. It’s interesting to learn about the effect of politics on the way we view and can navigate the rest of the world, and the implications that the current UK political scene has upon our identities as citizens and our status within the world.


Me and a couple of my friends head off to the Architecture Building to pick up our marks for one of the reports we submitted for assessment last semester. We are pleasantly surprised at having done well, and head out to brave the cold winds once more on our walk home. Most Tuesdays I choose to stay on campus between 11 and 1, opting to do some reading or seminar work between lectures, having bought or packed myself some lunch. However, this week I have decided to go back to my flat for a nice hot lunch to warm me up.


I read Part 2 of the RTPI’s ‘Handy Guide to Planning’ and make a mind map based on my reading. This guide is an amazing place to start if you’re interested in what planning is and what the planning process entails. You can find the guide online, so I would highly recommend this as a resource for anyone looking to take a planning course at university. This section of the guide is good preparation for this afternoon, as it is about development management/control, which is the subject of my 13:00 lecture.


It's time for lunch, which is tomato soup with a grilled cheese toastie. This combination warms me up considerably. I look outside my window and notice it is snowing – something I haven’t seen before in my time at Newcastle. Sadly, the snow is short lived and not dry enough to lie.


I have returned to campus for my third and final lecture of the day, this time from ‘Planning Processes’. Today is rather special as we have two guest speakers to lead the lecture, talking about the development control process in practice. One of these guest speakers is the Regional Head of the Royal Town Planning Institute, and he tells us about the process of development control from varying perspectives, including planners, architects and others. He also draws further on what a job in planning might involve – and demonstrates how diverse a career in planning can be.

This lecture leaves me feeling motivated and interested to learn more about the planning process. I make a note to look at some example planning applications before next week's lecture.


Back to my flat, where I spend some time relaxing and reflecting on the day so far. I schedule a job interview for Thursday, ring up my parents for a chat and afterwards take a 30-minute power nap to try to recharge my batteries before my next task of the day.


I meet the other members of the Oxfam Society for a casual meeting at a local tea-house. We discuss our campaign plans for the next semester, and take the time to catch up on what we’ve all been up to since December. I get some insights and tips about uni and housing from the third-year students, whilst asking about their dissertations and their plans once they graduate. Most Tuesdays I would go to A Capella Society between 6 –7:30, but today I feel quite worn out and decide to head home instead.


I'm back in my flat and decide to make dinner. It’s a little earlier than usual, but I am rather tired this evening, so I opt for my homemade vegetarian chilli con carne with rice, as it is a quick and healthy meal to make. Luckily, I made a batch ahead of time, so I cook some turkey meatballs, and add the pre-made chilli to the pan to heat up once they are cooked.


I decide to wind down after dinner by watching a film on my laptop.


Time to sleep. It’s been a long and busy day, and tomorrow will be just as busy!


I hope you enjoyed reading about a day in my life as a university student. University is an experience unlike any other – so I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to get involved with all that university has to offer whilst I can.

Best of luck on your journey to university,



Interested in finding out more about studying Geography and Planning at Newcastle University? Discover the practicalities of our degrees, career prospects, and opportunities to study abroad in our Geography and Planning subject page.