Undergraduate study - 2018 entry

Subject area: Geography

Why choose Geography at the University of Edinburgh?

  • You will be taught by top-rated academic staff who are leaders in their fields. The School of GeoSciences was identified in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 as having the greatest concentration of world-leading and internationally excellent researchers in the UK.

  • You will have access to excellent facilities, including laboratories for physical geography, specialist computer work, geomatics, image processing and more.

  • We offer an exciting programme of fieldwork that may include trips to Iceland, Turkey, Berlin, Cape Town, Wales and across Scotland, as well as local day trips.

Study abroad

The flexibility of the programme was a massive draw for me. The option to pick courses and continue my other interests made the University really attractive.

Evan Goss 1st year MA (Hons) Geography
Evan Goss 1st year MA (Hons) Geography

Geography is the study of the way the world works. As such, it is a uniquely diverse and integrative discipline that spans the natural and social sciences.

Geography can be studied as a natural science resulting in a BSc (Hons) award, or as a social science or humanities subject for the MA (Hons) award. As a natural science, geography focuses on the environment, examining such issues as landscape formation, natural hazards and climate change, and the evolution of these processes through space and time.

If you study it as a social science or humanities subject you will learn about the relationships between people and their social, cultural, political and economic worlds. In both cases, the relationship between the human and physical environments is recognised to be important, and both BSc and MA students may choose human geography or physical geography options or a combination of both.

Year 1

You will study the compulsory courses Human Geography and Physical Geography, which introduce key geographic ideas. They focus on global economic, social and environmental problems and change.

You can also choose courses from other academic areas. BSc students will target courses that expand their scientific grounding while MA students often focus on humanities. The range of courses offered gives you a chance to try something new.

Year 2

You will take Fundamental Methods in Geography which includes a field trip to the Scottish Highlands. You will also take at least two from Economic & Political Geography, Environmental Sensitivity & Change, Social & Cultural Geography and Geomorphology. As in Year 1 you will have significant flexibiity in your option choices.

Year 3

You will focus on the aspects of geography that interest you most, Compulsory courses, Nature of Geographical Knowledge, Research Skills, and Research Design lead you through the process of planning independent geographical research for your dissertation in Year 4 and teach important transferable skills.

Field trips are also offered, with Athens, Cape Town and Wales among recent destinations. You will also choose option courses in geography.

Year 4

Your final year has a central focus on developing and producing your dissertation – your opportunity to produce an independent and original piece of geographical research. Your topic will be supervised by a member of academic staff operating at the research frontier of your chosen topic.

You will also choose three further optional geography courses, as in Year 3 being drawn from across the whole field of geographical research, and including fieldwork opportunities that, subject to demand, include Iceland, the Western Isles of Scotland, Berlin, or the Scottish Highlands.

Your programme is completed by studying Geography, Science and Civil Society, a course that showcases the many applications geographical research has in addressing and solving real-world challenges.

Are there additional costs?

The School provides a 50 per cent subsidy for all fieldwork courses. You will have the opportunity to take part in field courses both within the UK and abroad. See degree programmes for more detailed information.

Our facilities

Geography is based in a spacious and historic building on Drummond Street, in the University’s Central Area campus.

The building contains well-equipped lecture and seminar rooms and laboratories for physical geography, image processing and geographical information science and modelling.

Study abroad

You have the opportunity to join the European exchange programme Erasmus in your third year, or to study in Canada, the US, Australia or New Zealand.

How will I learn?

Teaching is through a mixture of lectures, tutorials, practical classes, field components and project work. You will complete a dissertation in your fourth year.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed on the basis of coursework and exams. In addition you will have classwork that is assessed and will provide formative feedback.

Studying geography at Edinburgh prepares you for a range of careers, including scientific and humanities research, planning, surveying, environmental consultancy, conservation, energy, teaching, non-governmental organisation work and geospatial data analysis.

A significant number of graduates also move on to careers such as finance, marketing and law, or go on to further postgraduate study and research.