Guide to Studying Geography & Environmental Science

What is Geography?

Tropical .ciclone .of .southern .brazil
  • Contrary to popular belief, geography is not a degree in colouring in. Not entirely anyway. Geography is the study of Earth's landscapes, peoples, places and environments.
  • There are two primary disciplines in geographical study: human geography, which is why and how people live in certain places; and physical geography, which is what makes up the places where people have settled.

Why study Geography?

  • Geography teaches you all about, in the words of Paul McCartney, the world in which we live in. It is the study of the world's societies, and gives you insight into economies and cultures far flung from your own.
  • The old chestnut of 'transferable skills' is brought out again today for an extra polish, but it remains relevant. Geography teaches how to work to a deadline on your own or in a team, as well as how to assess data.
  • A running joke in the ancient BBC sitcom Porridge was that studying Geography leads to one career - geography teacher. Not so nowadays. Geography boasts a high graduate prospects rate among the social sciences.
  • If you're an outdoorsy type, for whom a primary fear of going to university is being cooped up in a classroom for three years, then physical geography is a good choice. There will be field trips aplenty.
  • You won't just be shivering in an English country field either. Studying the cultures and climates of the world require going to visit those same environments, so pack your bags for the US, Iceland, Australia and more.

Coursework, assessment and exams

  • Assessment is through a combination of examination and coursework. A lot of geography departments are also a little more imaginative in their techniques, with podcasting, oral presentations and posters also used.
  • Contact time is often low, with ten hours an absolute maximum in class. One-to-one work with tutors in the case of dissertations and individual project work is common practice.

What degree can I get? 

  • BA Geography (Social Sciences)
  • BSc Geography (Natural Sciences)
  • BA Physical Geography
  • BA Human and Social Geography

What qualifications do I need?

  • Most combinations of A-levels will get you on a Geography course.
  • Always confirm the entry requirements for the particular university/course you are interested in.

Use our Course Chooser to search through Geography & Environmental Studies courses.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  • There is an exciting range of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level.
  • Examples include a straight MA or MSc in Geography, Life & Environmental Sciences, Ecology, Meteorology and Climatology, Aquatic Science, Climate Chnage and Sustainability, and Land Management.

Graduate job prospects



*Professional employment refers to a job or occupation which normally requires a degree.
**Non-professional employment refers to a job or occupation which doesn't normally require a degree.

What are the job opportunities?

  • Geography gets a bit of a bad rap for being a pointless degree without an obvious career pathway at the end. A lot of courses have strong graduate prospects however, and there are many applicable and relevant jobs.
  • Particular job areas include cartographer, surveyor, planning and development, teacher, town planner, international aid and development, landscape architect, and market research.
  • Several professional organisations offer specialised positions for Geography graduates, such as Amey.