UCAS code: F800
Duration: 4 years
College: Science and Engineering
Introducing BSc Geography
Do you have a love of the outdoors, the environment, and a hunger to understand how our planet works?
Are you concerned about how climate change impacts our atmosphere, oceans, and environment?
Geography may be for you.
What is geography?
Geography is the study of the way the world works. You can explore the physical processes of our planet, such as:
- climate change
You can also address human issues such as:
- social justice.
Understanding geography is becoming increasingly important in today's world. Our planet, and humanity, face some of the biggest challenges we have ever known.
Making a difference starts here. Are you ready?
You can explore geography:
- as a natural science through physical geography, or
- via the social sciences and humanities, through human geography
What will I learn?
The Bachelor of Science (BSc) Geography is an environmental geography degree. It specialises in physical geography. Using natural science, you will learn about the Earth's surface processes.
Discover and study the forces that shape our ever-changing world, including:
- glaciers and ice sheets
- environmental degradation
- natural hazards such as flooding
- landscape geomorphology
- climate change
We will examine the changes happening to our planet. These changes can occur naturally or as a direct result of people's actions around the world.
You will also study aspects of human geography. We believe it is important to understand the ways we live in the world, as well as our impact upon it.
Our degree enables you to learn sought-after quantitative skills like:
- computer modelling
- data presentation
- using Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
Demand is growing for these data skills across a range of employment sectors.
This degree is also flexible. You will be able to build your degree around topics you are curious or passionate about.
Open to a world of possibilities
We are one of the largest and most successful groupings of geographers, Earth and environmental scientists in the UK. Many of them are world experts in their field. Our staff will incorporate the latest research in your teaching, and share our discoveries with you.
Join us and help tackle today's greatest challenges.
- We are 16th in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2022.
- We are ranked 17th in the world and 6th in the UK for geography in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022.
- Learn from geographers at the forefront of their fields. We are delivering world-leading research in a range of areas.
- Enjoy access to a world of experience with our research and industry networks.
- Get advice and guidance with our dedicated careers service.
Life changing field trips
Field trips are at the heart of this programme.
We know that getting out in the world is essential for understanding how it works.
We will take you beyond the classroom so that you can apply your learning to real-life situations.
Our hands-on approach to learning helps build your confidence and practical experience. It also gives you valuable field skills prized by employers.
What do you do on a field trip?
Oh, the places you will go! The real world is your most important classroom. So, we place a great deal of emphasis on delivering practical and field-based experiences.
But, what do you actually do on a geography field trip? The answer is...a lot!
Our field courses and day excursions are hard work and fun. Often they will provide some of your most memorable moments. So you will have many opportunities to get your hands dirty!
For example, you could be:
- conducting project group work on a biogeographical evaluation of local woodland in Scotland
- investigating the impacts of people, climate and volcanism on the Icelandic landscape
- meeting with community groups about the impacts of urban racial segregation
- examining approaches to mental health in rural areas
Field experiences will deepen your sense of community within your group. You will engage in a dynamic learning experience through peer learning where knowledge, ideas, and discoveries thrive.
Working on multidisciplinary problems prepares you for the real world, where collaborative solutions are crucial to solving local and global challenges.
We also want to you gain in-demand skills by using as many types of field equipment as possible. So, we will introduce you to a range of tools and methods, and help you develop skills in landscape and data interpretation. Applying geography techniques in the field is rewarding and brings your subject to life.
The locations and experiences of each trip will vary. We want to enrich you with a broad understanding of how the world works.
Our compulsory field trips or field courses are free, including travel and accommodation.
To ensure our degrees are accessible and inclusive, we offer alternative learning experiences.
Want to know more?
You can find more information about field trips within our courses by accessing them through the 'Programme Structure' link.
You can also access our blog posts and videos about fieldwork experiences on the School of GeoSciences website.
What is it really like to study with us?
No one knows what it is like to study here more than the students themselves.
Our students are sharing their experiences - from studying to living in Edinburgh and everything in between.
Get social with us:
Edinburgh is your ideal base
Edinburgh is ranked 2nd in the UK and 12th in the world in the QS Best Student Cities 2022.
Edinburgh is not only a fantastic city to live in - it is the perfect location to study geography. Our vibrant capital is an irresistible blend of history and modern city life.
You could find yourself in the most remarkable places - researching Scotland’s 7000 miles of coastline, the Gaelic culture of the Highland and Islands, or the challenges of restoring our upland ecology.
Immerse yourself among rugged coastlines, misty mountains, forest glens and sparkling freshwater lochs.
It is no surprise we are regularly voted one of the most desirable places to live in the world!
This programme is accredited by the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers.
This accreditation recognises that the programme delivers the knowledge, skills and other attributes expected of high-quality geography graduates.
The exciting nature of geography means you will have a diverse learning experience during your years with us.
For example, you could be discussing climate change and activism in a lecture one day - or splashing in rivers measuring water flow the next.
What (and how) you learn will depend on the courses you take, and the nature of the topics explored.
You can find details for individual courses through the 'Programme Structure' link.
Our geography degrees provide opportunities to switch between degrees in your early years. You should discuss your interests with your Personal Tutor to ensure that these options are still available to you.
One of the most exciting things about a Scottish undergraduate degree is option courses. You have the opportunity to take a significant number of courses outside your degree in Years 1 and 2.
You can choose courses related to your degree. Or you can try something completely different and new to you.
Changes to teaching and learning
We are committed to offering high-quality education to all our students. However, please be advised that there may be changes to course options and delivery. All decisions are made to ensure we can provide the highest standards for your educational experience.
Although we endeavour to provide a wide range of optional courses to choose from, these can be subject to change or cancellation at short notice. Places on optional courses can be limited due to course capacity and timetabling constraints. It may not be possible to guarantee every offer holder their top choice of optional courses.
Changes to field trips
Field course locations may change for a variety of reasons, including due to Covid-19. Where suitable, fieldwork will be relocated, rescheduled or alternative arrangements provided. Decisions will be made to safeguard the health and safety of our students, staff and community - and to ensure the highest standards of educational experience.
Accessibility on field trips
We are committed to making our degree as accessible and inclusive as possible. In the event that you cannot attend all trips or only some of them, we will provide similar alternatives.
The course offers an array of learning opportunities and is particularly accommodating to different learning styles. Now in my third year, I have acquired a detailed and well-rounded skill set regarding the physical components of our world – which was facilitated by the high standards of teaching throughout the vast range of compulsory and optional courses on offer. All in all, I couldn’t recommend this degree enough.
Erin Mills, BSc Geography
Your programme begins with a broad grounding across geographical topics. For example:
- environmental issues
- climate change
- Earth surface processes
- global economic and societal problems
In Year 1, all geography students take the same foundational courses in physical and human geography.
Approximately half of your courses will be in geography on the BSc programme. The other half will be your chosen option courses.
From Year 2, you will focus on physical geography topics. For example:
- global change
- environmental geography
In addition, you can also choose human geography courses.
You will also gain research skills in physical geography and take part in field trips.
As in Year 1, you will have significant flexibility in your option course choices.
In Year 3, you will focus on specialised aspects of physical geography that interest you the most.
There will be courses in geographical research skills and research design. These will:
- guide you through the process of planning independent research for your dissertation in Year 4
- teach you important transferable skills
You will also take part in fieldwork opportunities. Fieldwork will equip you with additional analytical skills for higher-level study in geography.
You can also choose from a wide range of option courses in physical or human geography. You will have opportunities to specialise in either or both disciplines.
A significant focus will be on your dissertation. This is an independent, original piece of geographical research in your chosen specialist field. You will receive individual supervision from an academic with experience in your chosen subject area.
You will also take additional geography courses. These include options in physical or human geography that can involve fieldwork.
Fieldwork opportunities in Year 4 can be in a variety of locations and are subject to student interest and demand.
There is a compulsory course at the end of your programme. It will summarise:
- the breadth and value of geographical research
- its practical applications to your future career
Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.
To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.
You will have access to the University's facilities across all University sites.
- study spaces (some study spaces are open 24 hours)
- computing facilities
- social spaces
- leisure facilities
Institute of Geography
The Institute of Geography building is part of our Central Area campus. It is on Drummond Street, bounded by the 16th Century Flodden Wall.
You will have access to:
- well-equipped lecture, seminar and tutorial rooms
- a state-of-the-art IT laboratory with software for image processing, geographical information science and modelling
- labs for physical geography, including soil, pollen and sediment analysis
The Institute is also close to many teaching spaces and facilities within the Central Area campus. For example, the Main Library and gym.
Depending on the option courses you choose, you may also study at various campus locations in Edinburgh.
Take a virtual tour
You can take a closer look at the School of GeoSciences and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.
Discover our city's landmarks, our campuses, accommodation and get video tours - all in one place.
There are exciting opportunities to study abroad as part of the University's exchange programmes.
Many of our students spend their third year abroad in Europe or further afield. A year abroad can give you invaluable academic and life skills.
How will I learn?
The exciting nature of geography means you will have a diverse learning experience throughout your years with us.
The types of learning styles depend on the courses you choose and the nature of the topics explored.
You will learn from a wide range of experienced academics at the forefront of their field. Our research-led, industry-informed teaching incorporates the latest developments. Our staff will ensure the latest research in your teaching and share our discoveries with you - keeping your degree up-to-date, diverse, and exciting.
Teaching can be through a mix of:
- practical classes
- field trips and field courses
- project work
You will also design and execute your own project dissertation in your final year.
You can find more information about teaching methods for individual courses by accessing them through the 'Programme Structure' link.
How will you support me?
We will support you with individual guidance from an academic with experience in your chosen subject area.
A Personal Tutor will support you during your studies. We also have Student Support Coordinators for additional pastoral support.
How will I be assessed?
You will be assessed in a variety of ways. The types of assessment depend on the courses you choose and the nature of the topics explored.
Assessment can be through a mix of:
- computer modelling exercises
- mapping or data presentation using Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
- written or practical exams, including multiple-choice exercises
- practical evaluation in the field or field notebooks
- coursework such as essays
- individual or group projects and presentations
Details about assessment methods for individual courses can be found through the 'Programme Structure' link for this degree.
Our geography graduates are highly prized for their:
- independent research skills
- ability to assess quantitative and qualitative data
- analytical understanding of environmental and societal challenges
By studying with us, a range of career opportunities are open to you. Our students have embarked on a diverse range of occupations after graduation.
For example, you could work in:
- environmental consultancy
- conservation and natural heritage management
- environmental and social justice advocacy
- natural science, social science and humanities research
- planning and surveying
- the financial services sector
- charitable organisations
- corporate environmental management
- geospatial data analysis
You can also move into areas such as:
Where do our graduates find employment?
Our graduates have gained employment in roles such as:
- Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP)
- Advisor to the COP26 President
- Head of transport
- Documentary Filmmaker
- Data Journalist
- Political Advisor
- University Academic
- Carbon Management Project Officer
- United Nations Refugee Partnerships Officer
- GIS Technologist
- Science Engagement Officer
- Land Use Advisor
Our graduates work in a variety of organisations, including the:
- UK civil service, local government and the Scottish Government
- United Nations
- BBC, CNN and other broadcasters
- Ecometrica Space Programme
- Centre for Sustainable Energy
- Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
While many have pursued successful careers with:
- Barclays Bank
- National Museums of Scotland
- satellite and mapping organisations like Geocento, esriUK, and MapAction
- several world-leading universities
A sustainable future
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a call for action to address the significant global challenges of our generation.
There are seventeen overarching goals with a timeline set to 2030. Nearly all countries in the world have committed to this plan.
They address challenges such as:
- climate change
- food inequality
- protecting our planet
Changes are taking place in every sector, including government, civil society, and the private sector.
With this degree, you can work in fields that directly contribute to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
By studying geography with us, you will join one of the largest groupings of geographers in the UK.
This means you will have access to our wide range of research and industry networks. We have excellent relationships with various organisations. These range from local communities to government, industry, and academia.
They can help you gain valuable real-world experience to effect meaningful change. Our links also provide you with valuable networking and potential employment opportunities.
All of this ensures your degree has real-world relevance.
We support you to recognise the wealth of possibilities ahead.
Our award-winning Careers Service plays an essential part in your wider student experience. We also support you after graduation.
- tailored advice
- individual guidance
- internships and networking opportunities (with employers from local organisations to top multinationals)
- access to the experience of our worldwide alumni network
We invest in your future beyond the end of your degree. Studying here is about laying the foundations for your future success. Whatever shape that takes.
Our programmes also prepare you for competitive entry into relevant postgraduate degree programmes. A significant proportion of our students progress to further postgraduate study and research.
Standard entry requirement
The standard entry requirement is:
- SQA Highers: AABB - ABBB by end of S5 or AAAB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
- A Levels: AAA - ABB.
- IB: 34 points with 555 at HL - 32 points with 555 at HL.
Minimum entry requirement
The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:
- SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
- A Levels: ABB.
- IB: 32 points with 555 at HL.
The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:
- SQA: Highers: two of Geography, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Mathematics, or Physics at B. We don't accept Higher Applications of Mathematics in place of Higher Mathematics. National 5s: Mathematics at B and English at C. We accept Higher Applications of Mathematics at C in place of National 5 Mathematics at B.
- A Levels: two of Geography, Biology, Chemistry, Electronics, Environmental Science/Studies, Geology, Mathematics, or Physics at B. GCSEs: Mathematics at B or 6 and English at C or 4.
- IB: HL: two of Geography, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) or Physics at 5. SL: English at 5 and Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) at 5 (if not at HL). If you do not have Mathematics please contact the College of Science and Engineering Admissions Office via the Enquiries link below.
We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.
For direct entry to second year the standard requirements must be exceeded, including the following:
- SQA Advanced Highers: AAB to include Geography and one of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, or Physics. Applicants with more than one science or Mathematics are preferred.
- A Levels: A*AA in one set of exams to include Geography, and one of Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Mathematics, or Physics.
- IB: 38 points with 666 at HL to include Geography, and one of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) or Physics at 6.
Other entry pathways
Entry to many degrees in Science & Engineering is possible via other qualifications (eg HNC/D, Access, SWAP).
You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.
SQA, GCSE and IB
For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:
- SQA National 5 at C
- SQA Standard Grade at 3
- GCSE at C or 4
- Level 2 Certificate at C
- IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)
English language tests
We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:
- IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
- TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
- C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
- Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
- PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.
We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.
English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.
This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.
It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.
Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.
The School of GeoSciences does not charge extra fees for compulsory field trips or field courses.
This degree involves a significant element of field study. We are proud to be able to support you as you learn practical and highly-prized skills.
Costs of travel, accommodation and subsistence on compulsory field trips are covered by the programme, thanks to the continued support of our generous alumni community.
- you are responsible for any incidental/personal expenses
- excursions as part of optional courses entail extra fees, which vary depending on the nature of the field trip
For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.
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