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About this subject

  • About this subject
  • Is this the course for me?
  • Career prospects
  • Studying Geography
  • Where to study?

Known for being the study of the earth and its inhabitants, the subject of geography is split into two main strands; physical geography which outlines the structure and formation of the earth itself and human geography which explored civilisation, the distribution of society and the impact that this has upon the world.

The practice of geography has been around since 600BC, but it is only recently in the 16th and 17th century that it has become recognised as an academic subject when the discovery of new lands by men such as James Cook, Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus led to a revival in the demand for geographical information. These days the study of geography complete with technological developments is continuing to change the way in which we see the world.

Is this the course for me?

If you’re passionate about understanding the way in which the earth works, and you’ve a fascination with both the rural and urban environment then you really ought to consider applying to study Geography.

However, as part of your course, you will be expected to attend lectures as well as collect and process geographical data. A geography course is ideal for those who are self-motivated, hard-working and enjoy working in the outdoors.

Career prospects

There a wide range of employment opportunities available to those with a degree in geography and many graduates opt to work in careers that include report writing, field work and research. Graduates are also frequently taken on for consultancy work within engineering and production industries as employers not only appreciate their analysis skills but can make use of their knowledge of environmental morals and ethics.

There is also the opportunity for many Geography graduates to find work in industries that are un-related to their course of study such as finance, marketing or even sales and some graduates opt to take further study courses training in subjects such as law or teaching. The average starting salary for a geography graduate in the UK is £19,844 per year, however this will vary depending upon the country in which you work.

Studying Geography

There are a number of different universities offering courses in geography many of which will have different entry level requirements. However, all universities will expect applicants to have a Geography A-level or an equivalent qualification for undergraduate qualifications. For those wanting to study at a post-graduate level you will be expected to have a minimum of a 2.1 grade in your honours degree. In addition non-native English speakers will be expected to sit the IETLS test and to achieve a grade of 6.0 or above.

As a result of climate change, sustainability debates and technological developments, the modern-day study of geography is a fascinating subject that will cover a wide range of topics. The majority of courses last only 3 years, but given the practical nature of the degree programme many universities offer students the opportunity to study abroad for a year, or undertake a work placement for an extra year between the second and the final year of study.

The method of assessment will very much depend upon your University of choice, your level of study and your modules. Most modules will require you to complete a written assessment such as an exam, an essay or a geographical report. Similarly, you will also be expected to actively collect and analyse data collected for the purpose of research.

Where to study?

There are a number of factors to take into consideration when making your application to study, one of which is the prestige of your chosen university. Many of the more prestigious Universities not only have fantastic facilities, but also offer networking opportunities with key industry figures. Cambridge, Oxford, Durham, Bristol and LSE all offer geography courses which have a fantastic reputation amongst students and employers.

However, competition among students for places on geography courses is tough, so it is vital that when making your application you consider whether you are likely to meet the entry requirements. If you’re predicted to achieve high grades in your exams, then it is definitely worthwhile looking at the geography courses offered at the top universities. However, just because a course isn’t ranked one of the top 5 in the country doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider applying. Many courses with lower entry requirements still offer fantastic learning opportunities for potential students, particularly those that are willing to work hard.

It is also important that when you make your decision you take a look at the modules available to study on the course. While the majority of courses will have similar core modules, most degree programmes will require students to take a number of optional modules in order to complete the BSc qualification. These will differ depending upon which university you attend, so check that the optional modules available are similar with your area of interest. Your fees will also need to be considered, along with the cost of living in the surrounding area. If you’re struggling to secure your finances, you may want to consider applying for extra funding or a scholarship in order to give you that extra financial support.