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Degree type

BSc

Course length

3 years full-time

Location

Durham City

UCAS code

F800

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Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level AAA/A*AB
BTEC DDD/D*DD
International Baccalaureate 37/36

Course details

Geographical science is leading the way in tackling global challenges, from climate change to environmental risk mitigation. Studying this research-led modular degree in physical geography will help you develop the necessary skills and experience you’ll need for a broad range of employment opportunities.

Our flexible study programme at one of the world’s leading centres for geographical research puts you in control.

The BSc degree begins with a broad foundation, during which you are introduced to both human and physical geography. Year 1 commences with three compulsory modules and residential fieldwork.

In the second and third years, our modules lead progressively to increasing specialised content focused on the cutting-edge of physical geography and environmental research. There is also the opportunity to study integrated modules that span the human/physical geography interface and optional overseas fieldwork. You can also apply to add a placement year or a year abroad to your degree, increasing the course from three years to four.

In the final year, you will undertake your own research project.

There is no such thing as a typical Geography career but if you want to make sure that you are highly employable with a variety of transferable skills, but also want to leave your options open, then Geography is a great choice.

Course structure

Year 1

Core modules:

Human Geography: Space and Place in a Changing World introduces the core concepts of human geography along with the approaches used to understand these concepts in response to specific societal challenges. A variety of case studies is used to illustrate the content.

Introduction to Geographical Research (BSc) covers a variety of methods for research and analysis used in human geography and how to select the appropriate methods for a range of geographical contexts.

Physical Geography covers a broad range of interlinking themes in physical geography, using scale, from global to local, as the organising framework.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Geographies of Crisis
  • Introduction to Climate Change

Year 2

Core modules:

Scientific Research in Geography provides the skills needed for good research design, interpretation, presentation and evaluation of research findings. You will acquire practical experience through residential fieldwork in the UK.

Handling Geographic Information provides students with essential skills in acquiring, modifying, analysing and displaying geographical data.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Carbon and Biogeochemical Cycles
  • Glaciers and Glaciation
  • Handling Geographic Information
  • Managing River Catchments
  • Mountain Landscapes
  • Reconstructing Environmental Change

Year 3 (Year 4 if undertaking a year abroad or placement)

Core module:

The Dissertation is a substantial piece of independent geographical research. It develops your ability to plan and manage your own learning and provides you with an opportunity to research a specific topic in greater depth and present your findings and conclusions.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Alpine Landscapes and Processes
  • Iceland: Field Research in Glacial Environments
  • Mountain Hazards
  • Natural Hazards, Risk and Resilience
  • Oceans Past and Present
  • River Dynamics
  • Sea Level Change and Coastal Evolution
  • The Arctic

Additional pathways

Students on the Geography BSc can apply to be transferred onto either the ‘with Year Abroad’ or ‘with Placement’ pathway during the second year. Places on these pathways are in high demand and if you are chosen your studies will extend from three years to four.

Placement

You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.

Learning

Lectures, seminars, workshops, practical classes, tutorials, fieldwork, group projects, student presentations are supported by increasing emphasis on self-directed learning – research, reading, and writing – as you move from first to final year.

Classes are small enough to allow regular one-to-one interaction with our staff, while practicals and fieldwork allow hands-on experience of the work of professional geographers. You can also attend an extensive programme of research-focused seminars where staff and visiting scholars present their cutting-edge research.

This emphasis on research-led, small-group and practical teaching reflects a conscious choice to enhance the quality of the learning experience, transforming you from a consumer of knowledge in the classroom to a generator of knowledge, as you prepare for professional or postgraduate life.

Assessment

Along with a final-year dissertation, modules are assessed by a diverse range of coursework, including essays, field work reports, practicals, presentations and posters, and some may also have an examination.

We believe your portfolio of work should be something you carry with you and are proud to showcase after graduation.

Entry requirements

A level offer – AAA or A*AB including Geography or a science subject.

Contextual offer – BBB/ABC including Geography or a science subject.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – DDD and an A level science or Geography at grade A.

IB Diploma score – 37 with 666 in higher level subjects, including one science subject or Geography.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We also consider other level 3 qualifications, including T-levels.
  • If you do not satisfy our general entry requirements, the Foundation Programme offers multidisciplinary degrees to prepare you for a range of specified degree courses.
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

Science A levels

Applicants taking Science A levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A levels with an English examination board.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

The tuition fees for 2025/26 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Our degree courses will stimulate and challenge you while providing first-class support for your academic and personal development. You will graduate with a unique understanding and experience gained during your degree and a set of transferable skills – problem solving, teamwork, project planning and management – that are highly regarded by employers across a broad range of careers and sectors.

Many of our graduates have taken up roles that make a real difference to people and communities, such as environmental policy and climate science, urban planning, energy, tourism and local development. Examples of high-profile employers include Transport for London, the Met Office, Skanska, Ordnance Survey and KPMG.

Of those students who graduated in 2020-21:

  • 90% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 93% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £30,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here www.graduateoutcomes.ac.uk)

Department information

Gain an understanding of real-world problems and how to address them, explore today’s global challenges and their relationship with society, and enhance your knowledge of the world around you when you study at this world-leading Department.

Geography at Durham is an exciting and diverse discipline that addresses some of the most significant challenges that confront the modern world – from climate change, natural hazards and sea-level change to urbanisation, geopolitics and culture. Our research-led approach to learning means you will be taught by human and physical geographers with specialisms that span a broad range of global social and environmental issues.

The Department is an inclusive world-leading centre that offers BA and BSc degrees with flexible pathways to suit your interests and career goals. Whether you lean more towards Physical Geography (BSc) or Human Geography (BA), you will receive expert teaching and guidance from internationally renowned academics through a variety of teaching and learning methods which include plenty of opportunities to get involved in workshops, presentations, fieldwork and project-based work. If your interests span both Human and Physical Geography, our courses include a range of integrated modules that incorporate both the environment and society.

Combining hands-on work with traditional academic teaching, you will have the opportunity to study human activity and the physical environment, as well as the interactions between them, in real-world contexts with a range of field trips. Putting theory into practice, you’ll gain valuable practical experience around the world – from the Arctic to Cape Town, Nepal to Iceland – as well as closer to home to discover the rich and varied features of the UK.

For more information see our department pages.

Rankings

  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2024

  • 5th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024
  • World Top 10 in Shanghai Global Ranking of Academic Subjects for five years
  • World Top 20 for 12 consecutive years in the QS World University Subject Rankings

Staff

For a current list of staff, please see the Geography Department pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • Ranked Joint 1st nationally (REF 2021)

Facilities

The Department of Geography is located on the main campus at Lower Mountjoy. Founded in 1928, the Department is one of the leading centres of geographical research and education in the world.

Over the past few years, we have invested £1.7m in new, cutting-edge equipment. Our laboratories contain an extensive suite of analytical and geotechnical instruments which are overseen and supported by a team of dedicated technical staff. Facilities also include a workshop, top-class IT facilities, a virtual library, one of the few dedicated cartographic units in the region and an extensive field equipment store.

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Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:

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F800

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

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