Undergraduate study - 2022 entry
Open to the world

MA Geography and Social Anthropology

UCAS code: LL76

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: GeoSciences

College: Science and Engineering

Introducing MA Geography and Social Anthropology

This joint honours programme combines your study of Geography with Social Anthropology, allowing you to understand the world from the perspective of both academic disciplines.


Geography is the study of how our planet works. Through geography, you can explore biophysical processes, from volcanic eruptions to flooding and landslides.

You can also study the human processes that give shape to cities, states, and communities - all against the backdrop of a changing climate.

You can explore geography:

  • as a natural science that examines the Earth's surface processes through physical geography, or
  • through the social sciences and humanities as human geography

The MA Geography

The Master of Arts (MA) Geography, enables you to specialise in human geography. This discipline is key to understanding and resolving many of the most pressing problems faced by society.

Human geographers study many different aspects of the modern world. They bring their research to inform on topics such as:

  • migration
  • mobility
  • public health
  • deprivation
  • urban justice
  • indigenous struggles
  • land rights
  • climate emergency
  • everyday life

You'll learn about the relationships between people and their social, cultural, political, and economic worlds.

Our MA in Geography also includes aspects of physical geography, as it is important to understand our impact on the world and our ways of living within it. The programme is flexible, so you will have opportunities to build your degree around areas that you are most curious or passionate about.

Social Anthropology

Social anthropology is the study of human conduct and thought. Societies around the world vary enormously socially, culturally and politically. The study of these variations, and the common humanity that underlies them, is at the heart of social anthropology.

There are close links between social anthropology and:

  • sociology
  • human geography
  • development studies
  • history
  • archaeology
  • philosophy

Year 1

As a joint honours student, your programme begins with foundations in both human and physical geography.

You will focus on a wide range of topics, including global, economic, social and environmental problems.

You will also study introductory courses in social anthropology.

Option courses

As well as your compulsory courses, you can choose option courses in areas that interest you.

You can choose to take courses that are closely related to your degree or try something completely different and new to you.

Year 2

From Year 2, you will focus on human geography in areas such as:

  • economic and political geography
  • social and cultural geography

You will also study compulsory courses in Social Anthropology.

You will also have a choice of option courses, giving you flexibility in your studies.

Year 3

In Year 3, you will focus on the aspects of geography and social anthropology that interest you the most. There will be a wide range of option courses for you to tailor your degree to your interests.

You will also receive training in research skills and research design in either geography or social anthropology. This will lead you through the process of planning independent research in preparation for your dissertation in Year 4, and teach valuable transferable skills.

Year 4

A significant focus in your final year will be on your dissertation, which is an independent, original piece of research in your chosen specialist field.

You will also take additional option courses in either geography or social anthropology, providing the opportunity to shape your degree around your interests.

Programme structure

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.

Programme structure (2021/22)

Our facilities

The Institute of Geography building is part of the University’s Central Area campus. It is on Drummond Street, bounded by the 16th Century Flodden Wall.

The building contains:

  • 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 of the teaching spaces and facilities within the University’s central campus, such as the Main Library and gym.

Social Anthropology and option courses

For your Social Anthropology courses, you will be located within the University's Central Area which has excellent teaching and study facilities.

Depending on the option courses selected in your programme, you may also study at various University campus locations in Edinburgh.

Virtual Visit

Why not pay a Virtual Visit to the University? Our interactive platform takes you on a guided tour through Edinburgh and helps you explore the campus for yourself.

Start your journey here

How will I learn?

The exciting nature of geography means you will have a diverse learning experience throughout your years with us.

Teaching can be through a mix of:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • practical classes
  • workshops
  • project work

Study commitment

Through your degree, you will be expected to study for approximately 200 hours per 20 credit course. How this time is divided varies, and is dependent on the courses you choose to study as well as the nature of the topics explored.

Typically you will study three courses each semester. Each course will have around 30 hours of contact time (on average, three to four hours each week). This contact time could be through lectures, tutorials, practicals or field trips.

You will also:

  • undertake independent learning (reading, preparing for lectures and tutorials, completing assessments, and developing your study skills)
  • learn to give presentations, getting to practice in front of both academics and your peers

Option courses enable you to select areas of study in areas you are most passionate about. In your final year, you will design your own project dissertation with guidance from our expert academics. This helps you to develop skills to become a researcher in your own right.


One of the main ways we teach is through lectures, and these are the main form of contact you have with academic staff. Most lectures last 50 minutes.


Practicals allow you to apply the knowledge acquired in lectures and tutorials and develop a range of practical skills.

The skills you learn in practicals are transferable beyond the immediate course. They can be applied in other courses, in dissertations, and even beyond your degree.


Many courses include tutorials. Tutorials are a form of small group teaching that is facilitated by a tutor. These are an essential opportunity for you to:

  • discuss specific topics in more depth
  • develop skills in critical thinking
  • communicate your understanding
  • work as part of a team
  • receive feedback
  • ask questions

Self-directed study

Emphasis is placed on independent work, and you will need to be well-motivated and organised.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed in a variety of ways, depending on the courses you choose to study in your programme and the nature of the topics explored.

Assessment might include:

  • written or practical exams and quizzes
  • coursework such as essays
  • individual or group projects
  • presentations

In your final year, you will complete a dissertation.

Studying geography gives you a wide range of career opportunities, and is reflected in the diversity of occupations our students take up after University.

You can seek employment in a variety of areas, including:

  • scientific and humanities research
  • environmental consultancy
  • conservation
  • planning and surveying
  • teaching
  • government
  • charitable organisations
  • environmental management
  • geospatial data analysis

Graduates have also moved into areas such as finance, marketing, law, and communications and media.

Social anthropology careers

Graduates in social anthropology have gone on to careers in:

  • social development
  • healthcare
  • journalism
  • film
  • non-governmental organisations, including with international organisations such as Oxfam

Further study

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.

Careers Service

Our Careers Service plays an essential part in your wider student experience at the University, offering a range of tailored careers and personal development guidance and support.

We support you to recognise the wealth of possibilities ahead, while at University and after graduation.

Careers Service

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAA - AAAB (achievement by end of S5 preferred). BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAA - ABB.
  • IB: 37 points with 666 at HL - 32 points with 555 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: AABB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 32 points with 555 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. Applicants with Geography are preferred. National 5s: Mathematics, Applications of Mathematics or Lifeskills Mathematics at C and English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. Applicants with Geography are preferred. GCSEs: Mathematics at C or 4 and English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. Applicants with Geography are preferred. SL: English and either Mathematics or Mathematical Studies at 5 (if not at HL). From 2021, both the Mathematics Analysis & approaches and Applications & interpretation pathways will be accepted.

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

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.


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
  • SQA Intermediate 1 at A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 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 module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition) 92 or above with 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components

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, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

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 MA Geography and Social Anthropology

Additional costs



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