Study geography at university

What is geography?

Geography is the study of the physical aspects of earth’s surface and mankind’s relationship with the environment. It covers climate, landforms, oceans and atmosphere and how human activity influences these. As a geographer, you will be interested in geographical features and look at how and why they change over time.

The two main fields of geography are human geography and physical geography. Human geography deals with people and their distribution across Earth and their interaction with Earth’s surface. Physical geography covers all of Earth’s physical aspects.

There are a variety of speciality areas within the fields of both human and physical geography, such as:

  • Biogeography - focuses on the distribution of plants and animals across the Earth’s surface
  • Climate geography - concentrates on the study of long-term weather patterns and how they affect the climate of different regions
  • Cryosphere geography - examines ice, particularly glaciers and ice sheets
  • Population geography - studies the distribution, growth and migration of people
  • Urban geography - covers the growth and decline of cities and built-up areas.

Why study Geography?

There are a number of benefits to studying Geography at university:

Studying geography at university will provide you with a context that will allow you to understand the world around you. Gain cultural awareness as you study human geography and learn how people live in other parts of the world.

The study of geography incorporates many different subjects into one. You will use physics, politics, biology, sociology, economics, chemistry and history for example, within the context of Earth, environment and people.

Everything geography covers is an important part of our world. We rely on the environment for our crops, water, livestock and power. Studying geography helps us understand our environment, from helping us to predict natural disasters to implementing changes in response to issues such as global warming. From how weather systems work to natural phenomena, global population and migration, you will develop a strong knowledge of how the world works.

Why study Geography at Durham University?

Choosing to study Geography at Durham means you will get to be part of the Department of Geography, which has been ranked in the top 10 for six consecutive years in the QS World University Rankings by Subject.

The department is one of the leading centres in the UK for geographical research, ranked 1st in the country for research power (Research Excellence Framework 2014).

Taught by world-leading researchers, you will develop your skills and knowledge through diverse learning and teaching methods, focusing on some of the world’s most pressing environmental and social problems.

You will also benefit from top-class facilities at the Department of Geography. You will be able to take advantage of:

  • Laboratories
  • Cold storage facilities for the storage of research and teaching samples
  • Field equipment
  • Cartography

1st in the UK

for Geography and Environmental Sciences (The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019)

2nd in the world

for Geography and Environmental Studies (The Guardian University League Tables 2019)

What makes Geography at Durham great?

Key skills from studying Geography

Studying a Geography degree will help you develop skills that are highly desirable by potential employers:

  • Problem solving
  • Analytical skills
  • Techinical skills
  • Communication
  • Organisation
  • Time management
  • Report writing
  • Data presentation

What Geography degree can I study at Durham University?

If you are looking to follow a Geography path after a foundation year, you can choose between BSc Geography and BA Geography.

BSc Geography focuses mainly on physical geography. Students study the impact of humans on the environment, as well as the differing lifestyles of societies around the world and elements of physical geography.

BA Geography focuses mainly on human geography. Using a range of research methods, including fieldwork overseas, students study the impact of humans on the environment. You will look at different societies around the world and elements of physical geography such as glaciers and mountain landscapes.

In the third year of your Geography degree, you will complete an in-depth personal research project (dissertation).

Degree preparation at the International Study Centre

Our International Foundation Year in Humanities, Law and Social Sciences prepares international students for their Geography degree at Durham. The programme will help you develop the study skills, knowledge and English language level needed to pursue a Geography degree at Durham.

This pathway lasts for three terms and, alongside core modules, you will study designated modules related to your progression degree. These include:

  • Introduction to Earth Science and Physical Geography
  • Introduction to Science
  • Geography
  • Numerical Skills with Statistics

Geography career opportunities

A geography degree will give you the skills and knowledge to pursue a range of different career paths. Whether you want to directly follow a career in a geography-related field or head into a completely different industry, you will have that option. You could also continue your education with a Masters degree and specialise in a specific area of geography, or go straight into a research or field role.

Some of the jobs you could pursue include:

  • Cartographer
  • Environmental manager
  • Geomatics/land surveyor
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Logistics and distribution manager
  • Nature conservation officer
  • Climate change analyst
  • Hydrologist
  • Soil conservationist
  • Pollution analyst
  • Town planner
  • Meteorologist
  • Climatologist