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Department of Geography


Computing and IT information

For purchasing a laptop, hard disk size should exceed 120GB (SSD (solid state) drives being faster but generally smaller in the 128GB-256GB range: traditional spinning disk (SATA) drives will generally be larger (500GB-1TB) and cheaper, but slower) a memory of 4GB is a good minimum amount, (but 8GB is preferable). For Intel machines a Core i7 processor is the fastest and most expensive, Core i5 the most cost-effective and Core i3 the slowest.

Very small screen machines although relatively inexpensive and highly portable, with good battery life, may prove tiring to work in front of for an extended period – the same applies to tablets, which are good for quick note taking, document viewing or web browsing but not ideal for editing large documents or serious development work. For all laptops, an external mouse, and possibly also keyboard/monitor may improve ease of use considerably.

An external hard drive is a must for backup purposes. In addition USB sticks can now be purchased at up to 64GB reasonably cheaply and are very useful in conjunction with a laptop for transferring files.

Cloud storage is also helpful, but be mindful that storing things “in the cloud” means “on someone else’s computer” and requires network access, so having your own backup copy is important. A level of free cloud storage and backed-up departmental server storage is also available for use during your studies.

Printing facilities are provided in a number of locations throughout the department, with a free quota available up to a given page limit.

The Department cannot generally supply all applications to run on laptops so students will need to have at least an office package, OpenOffice (can be downloaded for free), LibreOffice or the usual Microsoft offering (which is now available without charge via the university wide campus agreement. Please note that not all departmental machines can be expected to be running the most recent version of Microsoft Office at present.

Other packages may be available without charge depending on the application – please contact IT staff if you need more information.