Reasons to study geography

04 January 2021
Teacher talking to students at Durham University international Study Centre

Benefits of studying geography

Varied academic knowledge

Studying geography at university means you will gain a wide variety of knowledge that encompasses different subject areas. Although you will primarily be learning about human and physical geography, you will also be touching on history, economic, cultural, social and science subjects. You will gain a varied knowledge that will allow you to keep your options open in regards to any further studies you want to pursue or the career you want to follow.

Shape the direction of your degree

Geography degrees, such as those at Durham University, typically offer a variety of optional modules for you to choose from, both at undergraduate and postgraduate level. From the first year of your undergraduate geography degree, you will be able to start personalising your degree and what areas you want to specialise in, whether you want to learn more about the pressures on the planet or earth’s principles, the choice is yours.

Postgraduate degrees also offer optional modules, but you will typically already be following a specialism from the course you choose to study.

Highly desirable transferable skills

Alongside the varied knowledge you will learn, you will also develop a range of transferable skills that are highly desirable by potential employers. Many degrees help you develop transferable skills, but geography gives you a broad range of skills that will help you in any career path you choose to follow. Some examples of the skills you will develop with a geography degree include:

  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving
  • Advanced analytical skills
  • Communication
  • Data evaluation
  • Data collection
  • Planning
  • Creative thinking
  • Time management
  • Self-motivation and self-reliance
  • Report writing and data presentation
  • Adaptability

Broad choice of future careers

Thanks to the transferable skills and academic knowledge you gain from studying geography at university, you will have an abundance of career paths to choose from. If you want to pursue a career directly related to your degree you could go on to become a cartographer, environmental manager, town planner or a secondary school teacher to name a few. Other careers you could look at pursuing include astronomer, landscape architect, international aid worker or meteorologist.

You could look at working in the private or public sector, or for a charity or non-governmental organisation and work in industries such as property, environmental, international development, military, business and engineering as a few examples.

Geography is a highly employable degree, with 89% of Durham University geography graduates securing employment or going on to further study within six months of graduating (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education 2016/17).

Gain practical experience with fieldwork

Geography degrees give you the opportunity to put what you learn into practice before you graduate. You'll have the opportunity to take part in fieldwork to enhance your studies – as well as conducting your own, related to what you're interested in. Fieldwork is an excellent tool that allows you to gain practical real-world experiences, develop new skills and immerse yourself in your studies.

Prepare for an international career

Students that study geography tend to be more open-minded and show a clear interest in the world. You will typically have international opportunities throughout your degree. At Durham University, you have the option to conduct fieldwork abroad, which will help you experience other cultures and environments to help expand your global perspective. Alongside this and your academic knowledge, transferable skills and world view, you will be highly prepared for an international career and will stand out in the global employment market.

Make a difference

Graduating with a geography degree means you know about climate change, the environment, sustainability, urban regeneration, human rights, natural disasters, energy and international relations – topics which are becoming more and more important in recent times. With this knowledge, you could pursue a career that can make a difference to human life, whether it’s helping combat global warming, pushing ahead with urban renewal or identifying when a natural disaster may occur.

Postgraduate opportunities

Another great benefit of a geography degree is the choice of postgraduate degrees you will have. With the varied knowledge and skills you will develop, you could apply to study a Masters degree in a range of different subject areas. You could continue to develop your geography knowledge, honing your skillset and interests to specialise in a specific area by studying a degree such as MA Risk (offered at Durham University). Alternatively, you could study a masters research degree.

Or you could study a postgraduate course in an area such as teaching, landscape architecture or even business to take your future career in a different or more specific direction.

Study geography at university in the UK

If you want to study geography at university in the UK then Durham University International Study Centre can help you get there. By studying one of our pathway programmes, such as the International Foundation Year or Pre-Masters Programme, you can develop the skills, academic knowledge and your English language ability to meet the requirements to study at Durham University.

Study Geography at a top ranking university

2nd in the UK for Geography and Environmental Sciences

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021

World Top 10 for Geography for eight consecutive years

QS World University Subject Rankings