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Emily Cooper Staff Q&A

Lecturer in Human Geography

Can you please tell us a little about your background in Geography and the path that led you to working at UCLan?

I have always been passionate about Geography, and as I moved from studying from A Level to degree level, I realised the potential it has for understanding and finding solutions for so many different world issues.  Teaching it and inspiring the next generation of geographers is a privilege to do.  I have been a Lecturer in Human Geography at UCLan since 2016 after holding lecturer roles at Northumbria University and Lancaster University following my PhD graduation in 2014.

What was it about UCLan that appealed to you?

For me, I found the strong widening participation focus really attractive; for example the fact that Foundation routes are routinely offered across many subjects and that degree schemes consequently recruit a real range of students from various backgrounds and personal circumstances. 

What is your career highlight to date?

I think it has to be publishing my first journal article, which was an executive summary of my PhD thesis.  My doctoral research centred on the impacts of sex work on residential communities, and the article itself ended up prompting my first encounter with local and national media.  Speaking on local radio was both terrifying and exciting!

Which area of Geography fascinates you the most and why?

I am a social geographer, with particular interest in crime.  I find the socio-spatial distribution of crime patterns, and exploring the reasons for such patterns, especially interesting. 

Are you involved in research and how does this relate to the teaching?

My research activities straddle both the Geography and Policing departments here at UCLan.  My research to date continues to centre on sex work and residential communities, including best practice for local and national regulatory strategies by authorities.  I am also involved with projects relating to female ex-offenders re-entering employment, and other evaluation work with local police forces.  Students are given the opportunity to hear about such case studies in several modules, and to visit and benefit from research partner organisation guest lectures.  They are also given the opportunity to pursue individual projects in these topic areas

What are your teaching responsibilities?

I am mainly responsible for the research methods and dissertation modules, alongside a new module for this year (2017-18) which is called Geographers in Schools.  This enables students to undertake a work placement in a local school and complete relevant coursework associated with the placement.  I also teach several blocks on the Human Geography courses, including topics such as social exclusion, deprivation, development, and migration, alongside some more specialist teaching in Policing about sex work policy and regulation.  

What is the best part of being a University lecturer in general?

I really love that, often, we are the last point of call in the education context for students; some of my favourite days at work are when we get the ‘I got the (dream) job!’ emails, and hearing from alumni about their new adventures.  I also especially love the diversity; one day I am on a fieldtrip somewhere exciting, the next I might be conducting an interview as part of a research project, or spending the day writing/marking.

What would your advice be for any Geography students starting in September?

Really take the time to enjoy your subject! Geography is such a fantastic degree scheme and opens up so many career opportunities.  Take the opportunity to network right from day one in order to explore what aspects of Geography you might want to pursue during and after your degree. 

What are your interests outside of the classroom?

As I’m sure many students who have already had me as a lecturer and/or follow me on Twitter will tell you, I love cats.  They feature in my slides, on my wall, and in my everyday conversations (probably a little too much!).  I also love exploring new places. 

How do you de-stress after a busy day/what are your hobbies?

De-stressing for me usually involves yoga, horse riding or walking.  I also love reading anything I can get my hands on.

What’s your favourite book?

Gone Girl or To Kill A Mockingbird.

What is your favourite holiday destination?

Iceland! It is every geographer’s paradise.