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Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

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Course details

The MA in Geography (Research Methods) provides a thorough grounding in the practical and theoretical techniques used in both social sciences and the study of human geography.

Recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the course combines skills training with opportunities to reflect on relevant personal experience, which you will then be encouraged to draw on in further study. Learning takes place in small groups in a supportive environment and focuses on discussion and debate around current issues in the field. 

Core modules, developed and delivered by specialist academics in line with the ESRC's requirements, range from philosophy and theory in contemporary human geography to interdisciplinary perspectives and practices across social research. You also choose from a selection of optional modules in topics such as advanced ethnographic research, multilevel modelling and computational social sciences as well as completing a dissertation in an area of interest.

Facilities in the Department have benefitted from around £2m of investment in recent years. They include well-equipped laboratories, a workshop, an extensive field equipment store and a cartographic unit, all managed by a team of skilled technical staff.

The course is one of a suite of methods-based postgraduate degrees delivered by departments from across the University. It enables you to immerse yourself in a vibrant and enthusiastic postgraduate community which provides a social, as well as academic, experience.  We operate a ‘buddy system’ which brings together new postgraduate researchers with more experienced researchers who will be able to give you advice, information and support. 

Outside of scheduled learning time there are further opportunities to attend departmental events and talks and take part in the annual research conference.

Course structure

Core modules:

Philosophy and Theory in Contemporary Human Geography provides an in-depth knowledge of some of the key trends in philosophical thought and theory in contemporary human geography. This module also sharpens your abilities to evaluate and critically appraise such trends.

Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Practices across Social Research introduces you to the nature of contemporary social scientific research and its methods of practice. You will look at the issues associated with studying social complexity and consider the ethical issues in the conduct of social research, including issues of power and equality.

Research Frontiers in Human Geography looks at Durham University’s own work into some of the emerging research in human geography and develops your awareness of the wide range of research and opinion in the subject. Your skills in the critical analysis and the communication of research will also be enhanced.

Quantitative Methods and Analysis is designed to develop your knowledge, critical understanding and skills in quantitative data analysis. You will understand how to use statistical techniques for the exploration and description of data sets and make appropriate statistical inferences about associations between social phenomena.

Qualitative Methods and Analysis equips you to understand and assess qualitative social sciences research, including different approaches to research and design and analysis of qualitative data.

Using Geographical Skills and Techniques provides applied  training in the use of geographic techniques with the aim of enabling you to develop a set of transferable skills that are relevant to your professional and personal development. It explores some of the issues involved in the design and conduct of working with geographic information; and provides hands-on experience working with data sources and methods in a human-geography context.

The Dissertation is the chance for you to undertake a substantial piece of scholarship into an area of interest to you and develop a sound understanding of applying the right research tools and methods.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Advanced Ethnographic Research
  • Multilevel Modelling
  • Simulating Data in R
  • Systematic Review
  • Advanced Statistics for Psychology and the Behavioural Sciences
  • Computational Social Science
  • Participatory Action Research


This course is offered jointly by the Department of Geography, the Department of Anthropology, the Department of Psychology and the Department of Sociology. You will be mainly taught in small groups in the form of seminars and workshops, supported by lectures. There are also talks by guest speakers and you will carry out your own independent study in order to prepare for seminars. The course structure gives you plenty of opportunities to share ideas which help you to get the most out of learning sessions. 

You will also research and write a dissertation on a subject of interest, with support and guidance provided through a series of workshops, as well as individual meetings with a dissertation supervisor who has expertise in your area of study.


Assessment is rigorous and ongoing throughout the course and is designed so that you are able to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of a subject. Modules are assessed through the production of essays, portfolios and assignments as a response to seminars. You will also undertake written and verbal critiques of presentations. 

Much of the third term is spent researching and writing your dissertation, this substantial project makes up one-third of your final mark.

Entry requirements

A Bachelors degree or higher in an arts or social science subject, of the required standard, to train in preparation for studying for the PhD.

This course is partly taught and partly research-based and, if University conditions are met, leads to graduation with an MA degree. It is an approved course of the UK's Economic and Social Research Council. Full-time students must study for one year.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £10,400 per year
EU students £24,750 per year
Island students £10,400 per year
International students £24,750 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £5,800 per year
EU students £13,700 per year
Island students £5,800 per year
International students £13,700 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of 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


Studying in a department with a global reputation for the quality of research, our postgraduates are well placed to continue research at a higher level or progress into a rewarding professional career.

Taught courses are designed to develop the transferable skills that are highly sought after by employers such as the ability to analyse and communicate information and make decisions, and our postgraduates are much valued in areas such as government, non-governmental organisations and the charity sector.

Other roles in which postgraduates make a real difference to people and communities include property and surveying, environmental consultancy and management, conservation, town planning, geopolitical risk, market research, development work, health, public policy, social research, logistics, youth and community work, education, energy, utilities, tourism, banking, law, PR, IT, publishing, journalism and the media.

For more information visit our department pages.

Department information


The Department of Geography is a global academic centre for the study of physical and human geography. Our high-quality research and our industry connections combine to create a learning experience underpinned by the theory and practice to take on the challenges we face as a result of natural events and human activity.

We provide a leading-edge environment in which to study, giving a learning experience that is tailored to suit particular interests. We offer MA and MSc degrees in Climate, Risk and Society and in Environmental Hazards and Risk, and MAs in Geography (Research Methods) and in Risk, Security and Politics.

Our academic staff are experts in their field with research activity in the Department divided into seven clusters comprising Politics-State-Space, Economy and Culture, Urban Worlds, Geographies of Life as well as Sea Level, Ice and Climate, Catchments and Rivers, and Hazards and Surface Change.

The postgraduate community plays a crucial role in contributing to the Department’s research goals, by conducting original research and by learning from research-led teaching about understanding and implementing the process of turning policy into practice. An in-house conference provides the opportunity for postgraduates to present ideas.

For more information see our department pages.


  • Top 15 For Over a Decade in The QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 5th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024


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

Research Excellence Framework

  • Ranked Joint 1st Nationally based on GPA (REF 2021)


The Department of Geography is located on the main campus of Durham University at Lower Mountjoy, not far from the historic centre of the city with UNESCO World Heritage status.

Facilities are state-of-the-art after a £1.7 million investment and our laboratories are equipped with an extensive suite of analytical and geotechnical instruments which are overseen and supported by a team of dedicated technical staff.

Also available to postgraduates are a dedicated computer lab, world class library and research facilities, one of the few dedicated cartographic units in the region and field and labwork support.

More information about our facilities and equipment.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
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