Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

BSc Geography

UCAS code: F800

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: GeoSciences

College: Science and Engineering

Accreditation
Study abroad
Placements

Introducing BSc Geography

If you:

  • love the environment

  • are eager to understand how our planet works

  • have a keen interest in cultures and societies

  • are concerned about the impact of climate change

Then geography may be for you.

What is geography?

Understanding geography is very important in this day and age.

Geography is the study of the way the world works. The subject covers the natural and social sciences which helps you understand and tackle important environmental and societal issues.

You can explore the physical processes of our planet, such as:

  • volcanoes
  • flooding
  • climate change

You can also explore human issues such as:

  • sustainability
  • health
  • social justice

You can study geography in two ways:

  • as a natural science through physical geography
  • as a social science or humanities subject, 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 and their complex interactions.

You will also study some human geography. We believe it is important to understand the ways we live in the world, as well as our impact on it.

We will study the changes happening to our planet caused by both natural processes and people's actions around the world.

Discover and study the forces that shape our ever-changing world, including:

  • volcanoes
  • glaciers and ice sheets
  • environmental degradation
  • natural hazards such as flooding
  • landscape geomorphology
  • climate change

Our degree teaches you important quantitative skills like:

  • computer modelling
  • mapping
  • data presentation
  • using Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • coding and programming languages

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 interested in.

An extraordinary reputation

We are one of the largest and most successful groupings of geographers, Earth and environmental scientists in the UK. Many of us are world experts in our field.

Our staff will incorporate the latest research in your teaching, and share our discoveries with you.

  • We are 22nd in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2024.
  • We are ranked 19th in the world and 7th in the UK for geography in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023.
  • 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 field skills valued by employers.

The real world is your most important classroom. Therefore, we deliver practical and field-based experiences.

Our field courses and day excursions are challenging and fun. Often they will provide some of your most memorable moments.

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
  • exploring approaches to mental health in rural areas

You will gain relevant skills by using field equipment. 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. You will also gain experience presenting your findings to your peers and research staff.

A dynamic learning experience

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 help to solve local and global challenges.

Your field training will prepare you for the opportunity to conduct your independent project in Year 4. We will support you with the supervision of an experienced academic in your chosen topic.

The locations and experiences of each trip will vary. We want to give you a broad understanding of how the world works. Our goal is to reduce our carbon footprint while providing you with the best training opportunities.

Our compulsory field trips or field courses are free, including travel and accommodation. To make sure our degrees are accessible and inclusive, we offer alternative learning experiences where necessary.

You can also find our blog posts and videos about fieldwork experiences on the School of GeoSciences website.

School of GeoSciences website: field trips

Edinburgh is your ideal base

Edinburgh is ranked 2nd in the UK and 16th in the world in the QS Best Student Cities 2024.

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.

Explore 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.

What is it really like to study with us?

No one knows what it is like to study here better than the students themselves.

Our students are sharing their experiences, from studying to living in Edinburgh and everything in between.

Get social with us:

Accreditation

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.

Visit the Royal Geographical Society

The exciting nature of geography means you will have a diverse learning experience studying 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.

The way you learn will depend on the courses you take, and the topics explored.

You can find details for individual courses through the 'Programme Structure' link below.

Switching degrees

Our geography degrees provide opportunities to switch between degrees in your early years. You should discuss your interests with your Cohort Lead to make sure these options are still available to you.

Option courses

One of the best things about a Scottish undergraduate degree is the number of electives (called 'option courses') you can study. You have the opportunity to take 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, there may be changes to course options and delivery. All decisions are made to make sure we can provide the highest standards for your educational experience.

We try to provide a wide range of optional courses to choose from but these can be changed or cancelled at short notice. Course capacity and timetabling constraints can limit places on optional courses. Therefore, we cannot guarantee every offer holder their top choice of optional courses.

Changes to field trips

Field course locations may change for various reasons, including the health and safety of our students, staff and communities, and to make sure we can maintain the highest standards for your educational experience.

Where suitable, fieldwork will be relocated or rescheduled. We will also look at alternative arrangements that will make sure you achieve the quality learning outcomes of your degree.

We will announce any changes as soon as possible.

Accessibility on field trips

We are committed to making our degree as accessible and inclusive as possible. If you cannot attend all trips or only some of them, we will provide alternatives with similar learning outcomes where necessary.

Year 1

Your programme begins with a broad foundation 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.

About half of your courses will be in geography on the BSc programme. The other half will be your chosen option courses. You can still choose to focus on environmental courses on topics offered by the School of GeoSciences such as:

  • ecology

  • oceanography

  • atmospheric science

Year 2

From Year 2, you will focus on physical geography topics. For example:

  • global change
  • environmental geography
  • geomorphology

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 flexibility in your option course choices.

Year 3

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, which 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 analytical skills for higher-level study in geography and more opportunities to develop your oral presentation skills.

You can also choose from a range of option courses in physical or human geography. You will have opportunities to specialise in either or both disciplines.

Year 4

The main 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.

Previous students have researched a wide range of topics, for example:

  • ice sheet change
  • water resources
  • ecological landscape degradation

They have also researched topics that address society’s resilience to increasing natural hazards as a result of global change, for example:

  • coastal erosion
  • sea-level rise
  • landslides
  • volcanoes
  • deforestation

You will take extra geography courses. These include options in physical or human geography that can involve fieldwork.

Fieldwork in Year 4 can be in a range of locations and depend on student interest and demand.

There is a compulsory course at the end of your programme which brings together both physical and human geographers.

It will summarise:

  • the wide scope and value of geographical research
  • its practical applications to your future career

Our facilities

You will have access to the facilities across all University sites.

For example:

  • libraries
  • 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, coding 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 different 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.

Take a virtual tour of the School of GeoSciences

Placements

Your research dissertation project provides the opportunity to collaborate with an external partner.

Study abroad

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 both academic and life skills.

Visit: what are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

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 draws on the latest developments.

Our staff will include the latest research in your teaching and share our discoveries with you, keeping your degree up-to-date and exciting.

Teaching can be through a mix of:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • practical classes
  • workshops
  • field trips and field courses
  • project work

You will also design and carry out your project dissertation in your final year and will present your findings at our annual dissertation conference.

Our experts

Our teaching draws on different external experts, leaders and thinkers who can give insights into the application of geographical ideas in professional and community contexts.

They may:

  • be invited as external speakers on our field courses
  • deliver guest lectures
  • contribute to discussions
  • highlight links between in-class materials and real-world projects
  • provide possible dissertation opportunities

How will you support me?

We want to help you make the most of your studies with us.

You will have access to a range of resources and activities to support you during your studies. You will be assigned a Student Adviser for the duration of your degree, who will be your main contact if you have any questions related to academic or pastoral support.

The Student Adviser works with academics in your degree and the wider University support services. They can also help you with a wide range of administrative and practical issues, and can direct you to relevant resources or people.

Find out more about student support

You will also be assigned a Cohort Lead who will organise activities to help you get to know the other students on your degree.

They will also advise and support you on a range of topics including:

  • course choices
  • how to develop and improve your academic skills
  • how to effectively use feedback
  • advice on your future career opportunities

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed in different ways, depending 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

Our geography graduates are valued 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 taken up a range of jobs 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
  • government
  • the financial services sector
  • charitable organisations
  • corporate environmental management
  • geospatial data analysis

You can also move into areas such as:

  • marketing
  • law
  • communications
  • media
  • teaching

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:

  • 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)
  • Barclays Bank
  • Nestle
  • Accenture
  • NatureScot
  • National Museums of Scotland
  • satellite and mapping organisations like Geocento, esriUK, and MapAction
  • many world-leading universities

A sustainable future

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a call for action to address global challenges of our generation.

There are 17 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
  • environment
  • water
  • 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.

Further study

Our programmes also prepare you for entry into relevant postgraduate degree programmes. Many of our students progress to further postgraduate study and research.

Explore School of GeoSciences postgraduate degrees

Careers Service

We support you in recognising the many possibilities ahead.

Our award-winning Careers Service plays an essential part in your student experience. We also support you after graduation.

We provide:

  • 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.

Visit our Careers Service

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: 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 in one set of exams.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL - 32 points with 655 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 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: two of Geography, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Mathematics/Applications of Mathematics, or Physics at B. National 5s: Mathematics at B and English at C.
  • A Levels: two of Geography, Biology, Chemistry, Electronics, Environmental Science, 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).

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

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
  • 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. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

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.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for BSc Geography

Additional costs

The School of GeoSciences does not charge extra fees for compulsory field trips or field courses.

Costs of travel, accommodation and general upkeep on compulsory field trips are covered by the programme, thanks to the continued support of our generous alumni community.

However, you are responsible for any incidental/personal expenses. This may include suitable outdoor clothing and footwear.

Excursions as part of optional courses have extra fees, which vary depending on the nature of the field trip.

Dissertation costs

There may be some costs associated with your dissertation research project, including field costs.

You can design your dissertation project to reduce costs.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding

More information

How to apply

School: GeoSciences

College: Science and Engineering