Ever seen a strange rock formation and wondered how it got that way? Or watched a documentary about an overcrowded slum and wanted to understand why people were living in such poor conditions? If you choose to study geography at university, you’ll have a chance to explore these types of question, and much, much more. Indeed, geography degrees are some of the most varied out there; it’s more apt to consider this as a broad academic field, rather than a single subject.
In general, geography is considered a science which attempts to explain the world around us and the impact of both natural and manmade factors and events. Those who choose to study geography will typically opt to focus either on physical geography (the study of physical processes and natural environments) or human geography (concerned with human societies and the relations between people and planet). The first of these strands is closely related to Earth sciences, and the second to social sciences such as sociology, anthropology andpolitics.
What do geography degrees cover?
The geography topics you cover will largely depend on whether you’ve opted for a degree focused on physical geography or human geography, though at undergraduate (bachelor’s) level it is often possible to cover aspects of both before choosing a specialization.
Human geography is concerned with the study of human societies – how they operate, develop, and the challenges they face. So if you choose a human geography course, you may cover issues such as population change, cultural and religious practices, or various aspects of globalization. Physical geography, on the other hand, is about understanding the Earth’s physical processes – from climates and weather systems, to earthquakes and rock formations, right down to what’s happening on the ocean floor.
Reflecting the broad scope of geography degrees, you’ll find them titled either as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc), or at postgraduate level, a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MSc). Often the BA and MA options correspond to a human geography focus while BSc/MSc are in the physical geography field – but this isn’t always the case, so always check the course details.
Entry requirements for geography degrees
Again reflecting the diversity of geography topics, entry requirements for geography degrees can vary, and are often relatively flexible in terms of the academic background required. Applicants will typically be expected to have studied some aspects of geography and achieved good grades at secondary level. Related science and social science subjects may also be an asset, including physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, sociology, economics, politics and history. You’ll need to be able to explain why you want to study geography, perhaps with reference to potential future geography careers or topics you’re especially passionate about. You may be asked to attend an admissions interview, while international students may need to submit proof of proficiency in the language used to teach the course.
Course structure and assessment methods
An undergraduate-level (bachelor’s) geography degree will usually last three or four years, depending on the country of study, while master’s programs take one or two years. Teaching methods will include lectures, seminars and field work, often involving extended trips to different locations. As geography is such a broad subject, students have the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of optional modules. This doesn’t necessarily mean simply choosing between physical geography or human geography; often it’s possible to combine elements of both. Assessment is based on exams, course work, and field work projects. At the end of the course, students are usually expected to write a dissertation on a topic of their choice.
Source by topuniversities