Undergraduate study - 2020 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2019/2020

M.A. Joint Honours in Geography and Sociology

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by:
Final award: MA Honours
Programme title: Geography and Sociology MA Honours
UCAS code: LL73
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): Geography, Sociology
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA:

Dr Thor Thordarsen; Sarah McAllister

Date of production/revision: Ocotober 2012

External summary

Geography is the study of the way the world works -  a uniquely diverse and integrative discipline that spans the natural and social sciences while Sociology is the study of society, or the ways in which people produce and reproduce enduring relationships, institutions, cultures and systems, and of how these in turn influence both individual lives and public issues. This joint exploration provides a unique opportunity to integrate both human and physical perspectives - drawing on theoretical and practical approaches from natural and social sciences. In pursuing these complementary disciplines, students are well-placed to address issues of contemporary economics, social, and environmental concerns such as climate change, environmental degradation, cultural identity, social exclusion and economic development. With the opportunity to tailor the programme to suit your personal interests and aspirations, this really is YOUR degree.

The University of Edinburgh is one of the leading teaching and research institutions in the UK with a strongly international perspective and focus.  Students of this course benefit from being part of a research environment recognised for its excellence in the 2008 national Research Assessment Exercise, with 55% of research in ‘Geography and Environment Studies’ identified as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.  Don’t just take our word for it - the Guardian’s latest university league tables placed Edinburgh sixth in the UK for Sociology (based on teaching, student satisfaction and employability).

With more and more employers placing emphasis on breadth of knowledge as well as depth, students at Edinburgh are offered a broad fundamental education - students pursue a curriculum for two years within at least two subject areas, in order to encourage interdisciplinary study. There are close links in teaching with other subject areas and a wide variety of societies draw together undergraduate and postgraduate students and staff offering a dynamic forum for both intellectual stimulus and social development.

Educational aims of programme

The combined programme aims to develop:

  • A sound knowledge of the major fields of study and fundamental concepts within Sociology and Human and Physical Geography;

  • The ability to understand, evaluate and use a range of theoretical frameworks from both disciplines;

  • The ability to use quantitative and qualitative methods to collect, evaluate and interpret empirical evidence, and undertake independent research;

  • The capacity to apply knowledge to the understanding and evaluation of issues and problems in the contemporary world;

  • The ability to use research expertise as a resource for teaching excellence at an institution which prides itself on its research prowess;

  • Practical skills in fieldwork;

  • Key generic skills in critical thinking; evaluation of evidence; conceptual analysis, logical argument and oral and written communication, increasing students’ employability and enthusiasm for lifelong learning.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

On completion of the joint programme students should be able to:

 

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key concepts and theoretical approaches within both disciplines

  • Use a range of research strategies and methods to gain knowledge of both disciplines;

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the methods and value of comparative analysis;

  • Demonstrate awareness of the distinctive characters of both Sociology  and Geography in relation to other forms of understanding;

  • Display an understanding of the development of both disciplines and the different schools of thought informing research;

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the social processes underpinning social change and social stability;

  • Understand the relationships between individuals, groups and social institutions; sociological argument and empirical evidence and the reciprocal relationships between human and physical aspects of environments and landscapes;

  • Appreciate the ways in which the distinctiveness of place is constituted and re-made by human and physical processes, and the influence of place-specific characteristics on such processes;

  • Know about the ways in which physical and environmental systems shape the earth’s surface and how these systems change over time;

  • Understand the concept of spatial variation and the social and cultural, political and economic dynamics which construct geographical inequalities in human life;

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the diverse and politically-contested manners of representing the both the human and physical worlds.

 

How is this accomplished?

  • Course handbooks, lectures, lecture handouts, tutorials, seminars, and presentations, delivered face to face, hard copy or electronically through websites, blogs and wikis, are the key channels for dissemination of knowledge and guidance to further reading and research;

  • Content and assessment of courses and the requirements of the compulsory project/dissertation ensure cumulative knowledge and critical engagement with key concepts, theoretical approaches and research strategies;

  • A comprehensive curriculum ensures issues and understanding are developed and a wide appreciation of the subjects chosen garnered.

  • Essays, examinations, oral presentations and project work require independent reading and research beyond knowledge and understanding provided in the classroom and encourage application of alternative and comparative learning and the weighing of evidence and argument;

  • Discipline-specific skills are promoted through the practical and project work undertaken in all four years of the Honours Degree including training especially developed for both human and physical Geography.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

Graduates will be able to create new knowledge and opportunities for learning through the process of research and enquiry, including the abilities to:

  • Evaluate, critique, and build on the work of scholars;

  • Discuss and assess empirical evidence and theoretical argument in a clear and reasoned way;

  • Select and use appropriate methods of enquiry, to identify a range of different research strategies and methods and to comment on their relative advantages and disadvantages;

  • Creatively and constructively identify and design ways of solving problems;

  • Successfully complete an extended and complex piece of independent research presented as a final year dissertation / Plan and carry out a research project and report its findings appropriately;

  • Understand the ethical implications of sociological enquiry;

  • Formulate sociologically informed questions including competence in using major theoretical perspectives and concepts in Sociology, and their application to social life;

 

How is this accomplished?

 

In addition to the above these will be accomplished through:

  • Guidance on literature searching and web-based information sources in lectures and seminars;

  • Specific assessed tasks in compulsory courses (e.g. textual analysis, production of research Proposal);

  • Requirements for seminar exercises and projects;

  • Peer and tutor feedback on tasks, exercises and projects;

  • Production, supervision and assessment of the honours research project.

  • Additional practical skills promoted on optional courses and research electives and the opportunity for the achievement of more specialist laboratory, computing and qualitative skills including options for exploration of different types of human and physical Geography training.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

Graduates will be able to work independently and sustainably, in a way that is informed by openness, curiosity, and a desire to meet new challenges, including the abilities and dispositions to:

  • Be independent learners who take responsibility for their own learning and are committed to continuous reflection, self-evaluation and self-improvement;

  • Be able to sustain intellectual interest by remaining receptive to both new and old ideas, methods, and ways of thinking;

  • Be able to make decisions on the basis of rigorous and independent thought, taking into account ethical and professional issues;

  • Be able to use collaboration and debate effectively to test, modify and strengthen their own views;

  • Be able to respond effectively to unfamiliar problems in unfamiliar contexts, displaying creativity, flexibility and adaptability;

  • Have a personal vision and goals and be able to work towards these in a sustainable manner;

  • Understand contemporary world issues with empathy and critical insight with an awareness of personal responsibilities as a local, national and global citizen;

 

In addition to the above these will be accomplished through:

 

  • Requirements for tutorials to focus on students’ own reading and reflection;

  • Requirements for completing written and oral coursework assignments independently and planning, carrying out and writing up the research project within a given timetable;

  • Requirements for self-directed study guided by course reading;

  • The assessment of written coursework and examination scripts is designed to gauge the extent to which students have demonstrated these skills. 

  • Some courses use an innovative system of class assessment which does not count towards the degree result, enabling students to practice and experiment with their intellectual, and other, skills without worrying that mistakes will jeopardise their eventual degree result.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

Graduates will recognise and value communication as the tool for negotiating and creating new understanding, collaborating with others, and furthering their own learning, including the abilities to:

  • Make effective use of oral, written and visual means to critique, negotiate, argue with clarity, logic and coherence and create and communicate understanding;

  • Use communication as a tool for collaborating and relating to others;

  • Further their own learning through effective use of the full range of communication approaches;

  • Seek and value open feedback to inform genuine self-awareness;

  • Recognise the benefits of communicating with those beyond their immediate environments; for example in explaining complex issues to those outside of the School;

In addition to the above these will be accomplished through:

  • Requirements for and feedback on effective individual and group oral presentation and communication in tutorials and seminars;

  • Assessed tutorial participation in some tutorials;

  • The requirements to communicate and present quantitative evidence effectively;

  • The requirement to design, carry out and report on a research project, and feedback on it;

  • Written communication skills are directly assessed on all courses and feedback on essay and report writing is continuous throughout. 

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

Graduates will be able to effect change and be responsive to the situations and environments in which they operate, including the abilities to:

  • Transfer their knowledge, learning, skills and abilities from one context to another;

  • Have the confidence to make decisions based on their understandings and their personal and intellectual autonomy;

  • Be able to work effectively with others, capitalising on their different thinking, experience and skills and understanding and promoting effectively the values of diversity and equity, while also recognising possible trade-offs between these;

  • Effectively plan, and possess the confidence to, undertake and to present scholarly work that demonstrates an understanding of the aims, methods and theoretical considerations relevant to both fields;

  • Work independently on the creation of essays, research reports briefing documents, posters and research-based dissertations using the standards current in the academic fields;

  • Make constructive use of analysis skills in personal, professional, and community life;

  • Apply understanding of social risks, in relation to diverse stakeholders, while initiating and managing change;

  • Be both adaptive and proactively responsive to changing social contexts;

  • Understand and act on social, cultural, global and environmental responsibilities, and help others to do the same;

How is this to be accomplished?

By the combination of skills acquired listed above

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

Through this degree, students will develop sought-after, transferrable skills, most prized by future employers. These include skills in:

  • Library, information location and retrieval skills;

  • Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) and other data processing and presentation software;

  • Word processing and presentation packages (e.g. PowerPoint).

  • Qualitative and quantitative methods;

  • Fieldwork
  • Using on-line resources critically and effectively;

  • Conducting literature reviews, and
  • Undertaking group and team working

Programme structure and features

SQCF credit points and levels for each constituent course and each year of programme

NYT (Normal Year Taken)

Course

Schedules

Level

Credit Total

1

  • Human Geography

N

8

20

  • Sociology 1A: The Sociological Imagination: Individuals and Society

J

8

20

  • Earth Surface Systems

N

8

20

  • Sociology 1B: The Sociological Imagination: Private Troubles, Public Problems

J

8

20

Course Option - Select exactly 40 credits from Level 8 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W,

 

A,Q,T,W

8

40

2

  • Sociology 2: Transformations of Self and Society

J

8

20

  • Social and Political Theory 2

J

8

20

  • Social and Political Enquiry 2

J

8

20

Course Option - Select a minimum of 40 credits and maximum of 60 credits from the following list of courses, as available

 

  • Economic and Political Geography  
  • Environmental Sensitivity and Change  
  • Geomorphology  
  • Social and Cultural Geography  

 

 

 

 

 

N

N

N

N

 

 

 

 

8

8

8

8

 

 

20

20

20

20

Course Option - Select a minimum of 0 credits and maximum of 20 credits from Level 8 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W, as available

A,Q,T,W

8

 

 

*(Overarching rule collection group: A   Select exactly 60 credits from these collections) 

 

Note – entry to third year normally requires successful completion of the first two years of the curriculum and a mark of 50% or higher in Sociology 2; Social & Political Theory and Social & Political Enquiry 2 at the first attempt

3

Course Option - Select exactly 20 credits from the following list of courses, as available

 

  • Geography Matters  
  • The Nature of Geographical Knowledge

 

 

 

 

N

N

 

 

 

9

9

 

20

20

Course Option - Select exactly 20 credits from the following list of courses, as available

 

  • Designing and Doing Social Research  
  • Doing Survey Research  

 

 

 

J

J

 

 

20

20

Course Option-  Select exactly 20 credits from Geography Level 10 courses, as available

 

Notes:Students wishing to take the Geography Dissertation must taken Research Design in Geography (10 credits) AND EITHER Quantitative Methods in Geography OR Qualitative Methods in Geography (10 credits each) in their 3rd year.

 

OR Select exactly 20 credits from the following list of courses, as available

 

  • Research Design in Geography  
  • Qualitative Methods in Geography  
  • Quantitative Methods in Geography  

 

Notes:Students wishing to take the Geography Dissertation must take Research Design in Geography AND EITHER Qualitative Methods in Geography OR Quantitative Methods in Geography in their 3rd year

Course Option - Select 20 credits for Sociology Level 10 courses as available

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

N

N

N

 

 

 

 

 

J

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

9

9

 

 

 

 

 

10

20

 

 

 

 

10

10

10

 

 

20

AND*  

 

Select a minimum of 0 credits and maximum of 40 credits from Geography Level 10 courses, as available

 

Select a minimum of 0 credits and maximum of 40 credits from Sociology Level 10 courses, as available

 

 

 

N

 

 

 

J

 

 

10

 

 

 

10

 

 

*(Overarching rule collection group: A   Select exactly 60 credits from these collections) 

4

  • Social Theory

J

10

20

Course Option - Select exactly 40 credits from the following list of courses, as available

 

  • Geography Dissertation
  • Sociology Project

 

 

 

 

N

 

 

 

10

 

40

40

Select exactly 40 credits from Geography Level 10 courses, as available

N

10

40

 

AND

 

Select exactly 20 credits from Sociology Level 10 courses, as available

 

 

J

 

 

10

 

20

*Students are expected to use part of the summer vacation of their third year on research for their Project.

†Students are allowed but not required to take up to 40 credits of honours options in other subject areas within the School of Social and Political Science. Students are allowed to take courses outside the School only with the approval of Head of Sociology, and the Head of the subject area offering the course.

Students who achieve marks of 50% or more at the first attempt, for all required second-year courses for their registered degree, are entitled to progress to honours.

 

Progression Requirements:

 

Y1

Students must pass all subjects totalling 120 credits.

Y2

A pass in six courses overall, with a mark of 40%-50% (Dependent on course) or more in required courses.

Y3

End of semester degree examinations

 

Students with sufficient credits may exit at end of Year 3 with BA Humanities and Social Science.

Students who choose not to continue after year 3 of the Honours programme may also, with the discretion of the examination board, be awarded the BA.

Y4

Degree classification based on performance in 240 credits courses taken in Y3 and Y4, assessed in the year they are taken.

Notes - Normal progression requires the completion of 120 credits each year

 

The academic progress of students who do not achieve 80 credits is reviewed by the School Curriculum Approval Officer on a case by case basis.

 

Modes of study

Full time and part time study available.

 

Exit awards available at the completion of specific stages of the programme

Degrees lasting 3 years

There are a range of degrees lasting three years that are open to students. Students take 120 credits per year, thus graduating with a total of 360 credits. There are two main types of curriculum:

 

  1. In the 3rd year, the student can follow the full Geography and Sociology third year – just as if they were taking a four-year degree, except that they graduate at the end of third year (BA Humanities and Social Science).

  2. In the 3rd year the student can follow a curriculum similar to that of other degrees in their 1st and 2nd year, and continue to take a diverse range of subjects in their 3rd year, rather than specialising in just one (BA Humanities and Social Science).

BSc (General)

This programme allows students to study a diverse range of courses for the full duration of their degree. At least 240 of the total 360 credits taken over three years are taken from subjects in the College of Science and Engineering (including Geography and Sociology). 60 credits must be taken at level 9 or 10 (3rd year or higher).

BSc Ordinary Degree in a Designated Discipline

This is similar to the General Degree in that it also requires students to take at least 240 of the total 360 credits taken over three years from subjects in the College of Science and Engineering (including Geography and Sociology). However, in the 3rd year they take at least 80 out of 120 credits in the 3rd year of their ‘Designated Disciplines’.

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Teaching and Learning strategies a variety of different methods appropriate to the programme aims. The graduate attributes listed above are met through a teaching and learning framework which is appropriate to the level and content of the course.

In Year 1

  • Lectures

  • Tutorials

  • Seminars

  • Problem based learning activities

  • Group work with peers

  • One to one meetings with personal tutors

  • Practical classes

  • Feedback sessions

  • Careers talks

In Year 2

  • Lectures

  • Tutorials

  • Seminars

  • Problem based learning activities

  • One to one meetings with personal tutors

  • Practical classes

  • Feedback sessions

  • Careers talks

  • Skills sessions

  • Group work with peers

In Year 3

  • Lectures

  • Tutorials

  • Seminars

  • One to one supervision (Sociology Project)

  • Workshops to develop data collection and analysis skills (Sociology Project)

  • Workshops to develop bibliographic and presentational skills (Designing and Doing Survey Research)

  • Field work

  • Feedback sessions

  • Career talks

  • Skills sessions

  • Group-work with peers

  • Computer lab-based work (Doing Survey Research)

  • One to one meetings with personal tutors

  • Problem based learning activities

In year 4

  • Lectures

  • Tutorials

  • Seminars

  • One to one meetings with personal tutors

  • Problem based learning activities

  • Group work with peers

  • One to one supervision (Sociology Project)

  • Feedback sessions

  • Careers talks

  • Skills sessions

  • Workshops to develop research skills (Sociology Project)

  • Practical activities – poster development (Project Presentation – optional)

  • Conference / Poster workshops

Facilities

The School of GeoScience is equipped with a range of state-of-the-art facilities to support learning and research including computing equipment, analytical laboratories and field equipment. The Drummond St site where Geography teaching is based houses two student computer suites and the University hosts a full range of IT facilities including mobile networking, video-conferencing, High-Performance Computing and data repositories.  The School has a range of analytical laboratories to support sample analysis and it maintains close links with and access to facilities at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Laboratory at East Kilbride. The School supports a very wide range of equipment for field research including up-to-date surveying and remote sensing equipment, sediment and geochemical sampling, audio and video recording equipment.

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 158420
Year 220800
Year 314860
Year 411890

Assessment methods and strategies

Assessment:

Courses can be assessed by a diverse range of methods and can take the form of formative work which provides the student with on-going feedback as well as summative assessment which is submitted for credit.

 

In Year 1

  • Essays

  • Written Examinations (unseen)

  • Assessment of participation in tutorials

  • Online assignments

  • Multiple-choice tests

In Year 2

  • Essays

  • Written Examinations (unseen)

  • Assessment of participation in tutorials

  • Online assignments

  • Multiple-choice tests

In Year 3

  • Essays

  • Written Examinations (unseen)

  • Group Project

  • Research Proposal

  • Oral presentations

  • Exercise applying social theory to everyday news

  • Assessment of Online Journal

  • Online Notice-board Multimedia

  • Online assignments

  • Multiple-choice tests

  • Field work reports

  • Data analysis report

  • Research project planning exercises

In Year 4

  • Essays

  • Written Examinations (unseen)

  • Take-home exams

  • Assessment of original research work (Honours Project)

  • Assessment of research-based poster (Project Presentation option course)

  • Oral presentations

  • Poster presentations

  • Dissertation

  • Research project planning exercises

  • Assessment of oral presentation

  • Assessment of Online Journal

  • Online Notice-board Multimedia Exercise

  • Online assignments

  • Multiple-choice tests

  • Field work reports

  • Data analysis projects

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 137360
Year 239259
Year 310090
Year 410090

Career opportunities

One of the best things about studying a combined degree is the variety and options available to you upon completion, as graduates of this course acquire many valuable transferable skills that can lead to a wide range of careers or personal development in an ever-changing market, drawing upon your core understanding of human and physical Geography and Sociology.

Choices of recent graduates have ranged from teaching, planning, surveying, environmental consultancy and cartography to finance, marketing and law. Our students have worked across all sectors including local and central government; the voluntary sector and even within media and journalism. Many graduates also go on to study postgraduate study or choose an academic career.

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