Undergraduate study - 2019 entry

Subject area: Geography

Why choose Geography at the University of Edinburgh?

  • We’re ranked 14th in the world for geography in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017.

  • Edinburgh is a perfect location to study geography, combining the physical environment of the ancient volvano Arthur's Seat, with the human geographer's interests of a capital city and economic hub.

  • Each year, you will have fieldwork opportunities not only in Scotland but further afield. Recently, our students have undertaken fieldwork in Iceland, Greece, Germany, South Africa and Wales.

  • You will be taught by staff whose research and teaching interests span the discipline and who are at the leading edge of research in the field.

  • You will have the opportunity to go abroad in Year 3 and study in Europe, Canada, the US, Australia or New Zealand.

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

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 2nd year MA (Hons) Geography
Evan Goss 2nd 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

Your programme begins with a broad grounding across geographical topics focusing on global economic, social and environmental problems and change. You will participate in a field trip to the Scottish Highlands, training you in geographical methods and offering opportunities to begin getting to know geography staff and students.

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

Year 2

You will study at least two, but up to four, of Economic & Political Geography, Environmental Sensitivity & Change, Social & Cultural Geography, and Geomorphology. As in Year 1 you will have significant flexibility in your option choices.

Field trips are also offered, with Greece, South Africa and Wales among recent destinations.

Year 3

You will focus on the aspects of geography that interest you the most. Courses in geographical research skills and research design lead you through the process of planning independent research for your dissertation in Year 4 and teach important transferable skills.

You will also choose option courses from either of, or both, human and physical geography. Fieldwork opportunities as you move into Year 4, subject to demand, include Iceland, the Western Isles of Scotland, Germany, and the Scottish Highlands.

Year 4

A large focus will be on your dissertation, an independent, original piece of geographical research in your chosen specialist field. You will also take additional geography courses, including options in physical or human geography that can include fieldwork.

A compulsory course for all students, at the end of your programme, will summarise the breadth and value of geographical research as well as its practical applications to your future career.

Are there additional costs?

We will subsidise at least 50 per cent of the costs of core fieldwork courses for all students. Other awards are also available for eligible students

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 Year 3, 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 Year 4.

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.