As a geography student, you’ll study the world and how humans interact with it. It’s largely a science, but you’ll also gain insight into other subjects including politics and sociology.
If you’re interested in studying geography, there are two routes to choose from:
- Physical geography: The study of the earth and its natural elements. Volcanoes, earthquakes, atmosphere, climate, landscapes, and erosion. Most of the time, this will be a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree.
- Human geography: How we (humans) interact with the world. Economics, tourism, population, globalisation, and more. This will likely be a Bachelor of Arts (BA).
But you don’t have to focus on just the one. You can opt for a combined course.
A qualification in geography will definitely help your application for further study, but it’s not always a requirement.
If you’re studying physical geography, a science qualification could support your application. For human geography degrees, subjects like politics and sociology will help.
Many universities look for the right type of character, rather than the right academic background. So, you should demonstrate an open mind, along with a passion for problem-solving and analysis in your personal statement. And, of course, a strong interest in the natural and man-made world.
A levels – Entry requirements range from CCC to AAA, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for BBB.
Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from BBBB to AAABB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring AABBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for AB.
Vocational courses – Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma, or an SCQF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative to A levels/Highers by some providers. It’s essential that you check alternative entry requirements with universities or colleges.
- Apply by 15 January
- Submit a personal statement
- Submit a portfolio
- Take an entry test
- Show work experience
- Audition for a place
Whether you want to help prevent climate change and natural disasters, or improve quality of life and overpopulation, a geography degree will equip you to make a difference in the world. Your understanding and interpretation of complex issues will stand you in good stead if you choose to specialise in a specific geographic discipline, but equally allow you to work in other careers and industries. Some modules you may study are:
- Environmental change: Past and present
- Health, space and justice
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
- Wilderness and habitats
- Natural resource management
- Water science and management
- Sustainable development: Nature and city
- Globalisation and regional development
Geography is considered one of the broadest subject areas. And, it has one of the highest employability rates of all undergraduate degrees!
As a graduate you’ll be an attractive candidate for most jobs thanks to your range of transferable skills, including problem-solving, critical thinking, data analysis, technical computing, and team working.
If you want to put your degree to direct use, you could work in:
- town and transport planning
- conservation, sustainability, and geoscience
- tourism, ecology, and environment
- international aid and development
- cartographer and GIS consultancy
But, don’t forget all those interdisciplinary skills you’ll be learning, which could set you up for a career in:
You won’t be surprised to hear that studying geography is more varied than most other degrees. You’ll undertake a mix of coursework and exams, but it’s the type of content that makes geography so interesting:
- conducting fieldwork and experiments
- research and analysis
- travelling and studying abroad
- writing reports and essays
It’s likely that you’ll have about ten hours of classroom time per week, a little less than other subjects, so you’ll have to be good at managing your own workload. Geography also offers a lot of group projects, allowing you to learn from your classmates as well as the tutor.
And don’t expect to be sitting in rows making notes for three years. Presentations, digital mapping, and computerised analysis are all common tools of a geography degree.
If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.
Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.
Higher apprenticeship (Level 4)
- Associate project manager
- Aviation operations manager
- Financial adviser
- Historic environment advice assistant
- Junior management consultant
- Passenger transport operations manager
- Port marine operations officer
- Professional accounting/Taxation technician
Degree apprenticeships (Levels 5 – 7)
- Academic professional
- Accountancy/Taxation professional
- Chartered town planner (degree)
- Cultural heritage conservator
- Environmental practitioner (degree)
- Ecologist (degree)
- Geospatial mapping and science specialist (degree)
- Learning and skills teacher
- Operations/Departmental manager
- Project manager (degree)
- Transport planner (degree)