4 August 2017

Working hard, following his passion and taking risks helped Geography graduate Euan Crispin win a top prize after clearing brought him to Lancaster.

Euan was very disappointed when his A level results meant that he narrowly missed out on his top university choices: but then Lancaster University saw his potential and offered him a place to study Geography via clearing.

Three years later Euan has proved Lancaster right. He is back on top form, gaining a first class degree and winning the Lancaster Environment Centre prize for the best overall performance in a BA degree. He’s also been nominated for a prestigious national award for his dissertation.

Today he has only praise for the University that had faith in him.

“It gives you a very broad skill set, offering quite a unique take on different things and encouraging you to think critically about a lot of contemporary issues. I’m very interested in problems like climate change and cities and the course had that relevance.

“There was a great blend of different learning styles and such a variety of assessment including group work activity and presentations, much better than many other degree schemes.

“I have always liked Lancaster because of its campus. It’s a good size: not too small or too large which means you are part of community rather than being overwhelmed. It feels like you are known, at least in the department.”

Euan’s interest in cities was explored in his choice of dissertation project, which focused on an under-researched area: the privatisation of public space in urban areas, and how people experience these spaces day-to-day through their senses and the people they encounter. He did his fieldwork in the city of Lancaster.

“He used really creative methods and theory to investigate this topic, including participatory mapping, walking diaries and in-depth interviews,” said his supervisor, Dr Beccy Whittle.

“By being willing to take risks with the methods and theoretical approach, I’ve done something that is a bit different,” Euan explained. 

His results showed that people are often unaware about which spaces are public and which are private, and that smells and other sensory inputs can have a big impact on how people negotiate and act within such spaces, more than noticeable signs and signals such as CCTV.

His dissertation has been nominated for the Alfred Steers Essay prize, awarded by the Royal Geographical Society for the best dissertation by an undergraduate in a UK geography department.

Euan really enjoyed the freedom he was offered at Lancaster to pursue his interests.

“Intellectually being around so many prominent academics that are actively researching as well as teaching has been a real benefit. The support I’ve had, particularly from Beccy, was really good. She was prepared to let me do what I was passionate about while continuing to give me advice.

“It’s a great feeling to know that hard work pays off, and that A level results are only part of the journey to academic success”

As for the future, Euan is torn between doing more research or pursuing a career in the arts and heritage sector, having volunteered for Lancaster Arts while a student. So he’s decided to take a year out to work, travel and give himself the time to make a good decision.

Learn more about studying for a Geography degree at the Lancaster Environment Centre. Lancaster has been rated consistently as one of the Top Five places in the UK to study Geography and Environmental Science in the Guardian University League table.