Geography BA (Hons)
BA Hons Geography
If you’re fascinated by the relationship between human society and the natural world, this BA (Hons) Geography degree, accredited by the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), provides the skills and knowledge you need to help shape the future of the planet.
You'll investigate how we can preserve both the natural environment and the social and economic wellbeing of human populations. When you graduate, you'll have what you need to work in a wide range of areas, such as within urban or environmental planning, the energy sector, teaching or research.
- Create your own bespoke final year to match your interests and career ambitions by choosing from a fully optional list of modules, including environment and society, gender and development, and transport and sustainability
- Use industry-standard laboratory tech, including laser survey technology, drones, GIS and photogrammetry equipment and our environmental simulation cabinet – a controlled lab area that simulates different environmental conditions
- Experience some of the societies, cultures and landscapes you’re studying through fieldwork, including in places such as Berlin, Malta, Sicily and Uganda
- Choose to study abroad at one of our partner universities in Canada, Australia, Germany, Malta, Slovakia, Hungary and France, or build experience on a work placement at an organisation like the Environment Agency or Natural England
90% of graduates in work or further study 15 months after this course (HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2018/19)
This course is accredited by the Royal Geographical Society. This shows the teaching on this course is of the highest quality and has been approved by an independent body of academics and industrialists.
Students and staff discuss studying geography at the University of Portsmouth.
Dr Caroline Day: The broad subjects you might cover are things like geographies of development, the creative economy, transport and sustainability and society and place.
Dr Mark Hardiman: Here at Portsmouth it’s not just about being in a lecture, it’s about going out there and experiencing sometimes quite extreme environments and that’s best exemplified by our field trips. You get to see where global warming is happening now, very rapidly.
Lydia: What I learnt from the field trip was how to work in a team with a group of people and how to manage my time.
Luke: Going on field trips, such as to Finland, has helped me see different cultures and different environments very different to the UK and I think that helps me build as a person.
Lydia: Portsmouth gives me the ability to develop professionally and personally. I’ve learnt a lot from being at the University.
Dr Caroline Day: Coming to Portsmouth will offer students a real sense of geography in action.
BA (Hons) Geography degree entry requirements
- A levels – ABB–BBC
- UCAS points – 112–128 points (calculate your UCAS points)
- BTECs (Extended Diplomas) – DDM–DMM
English language requirements
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.
We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.
If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
Facilities and specialist equipment
GIS and remote sensing lab
Discover more about the planet's physical structures and scientific processes, such as glaciers and coastal flooding, using drone data, aerial and satellite remote sensing and geographic information systems.
Physical geography and meteorology lab
Use specialist analytical equipment and simulation facilities in this lab, including laser particle size analyser, rainfall simulator, sediment flume and 2 Campbell Scientific weather stations.
Environmental technology field stationConduct tests and analyse samples currently in the ecosystem at our ETFS, complete with microbiology and environmental chemistry labs, and located in a fully-operational waterworks in nearby Petersfield.
Explore the station
Careers and opportunities
On this BA (Hons) Geography, you’ll learn how to sustainably develop urban areas, and how governments, business and individuals can help protect the planet for future generations. You’ll examine themes such as conservation, sustainability, geopolitics, and economic and urban development, and hunt for answers to big questions about the world and society.
Geography graduates are valuable in all sorts of job roles. As well as learning skills to help you understand and engage with the world, you’ll develop as a professional. You’ll come away as a confident communicator, able to solve problems, make good decisions and work well with others.
When you graduate, you'll be ready for a career in a wide range of important fields and sectors, with technical and professional skills many employers are looking for. Our previous students have gone onto work in areas such as transport planning, engineering, civil services, teaching and research.
As the Royal Geographical Society state, 74.8% of geography graduates enter professional-level jobs after graduation, compared to an average of 60.8% for the social sciences in general.
It also notes data from the Department for Education that puts geography among the top subjects for graduate earnings.
Our BA (Hons) Geography focuses on human geography – the ways in which communities, cultures and societies interact with the environment, while BSc (Hons) Geography is more to do with the science of the natural physical world.
Whichever you choose, you'll study both types of geography in your first year, before picking modules on either (or both) in years 2 and 3.
Your module choices will determine whether you graduate with a BA or a BSc Geography, so it helps to know which area interests you most and suits your career aspirations better before choosing which degree to study.
What jobs can you do with a geography degree?
Roles our graduates have taken on include:
- geo-environmental consultant
- transport planner
- urban planner
- GIS analyst
- spatial analyst
- operations watchkeeper
- geography teacher
Organisations our graduates have gone on to work for include:
- Mott McDonald
- Department of Business and Energy
- Thames Water
- Hampshire County Council
You could also go on to study at postgraduate level.
Ongoing careers support
After you graduate, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability Service as you advance in your career.
Placement year (optional)
Either before or following your third year, you can opt for a work placement year to gain valuable longer-term work experience in the industry. Placements give you the opportunity to apply what you've learnt so far in a real workplace, boosting your employability and making you attractive to employers after graduation.
You can work for a company or organisation here in the UK or overseas – some Geography students have chosen Australia, Spain or Malta for their placement year.
Whichever route you choose, you'll receive support and guidance. Our specialist team of Science and Health Careers advisors can help you with finding a work placement and improving your employability skills. They'll provide you with a database of placement vacancies, support with your job search – including help with applications and interviews – and support throughout your placement year.
You'll also hear guest speakers from potential employers and get support from students who have returned from their placements.
Previous students have taken placement roles such as:
- environmental scientist
- research scientist
- environmental assessment officer
- flood risk assessor
They've completed placements at organisations including:
- Atkins Global
- Pfizer Research and Development
- Hampshire Ecological Services
- The Environment Agency
- Natural England
You’ll also have the chance to study abroad at one of our partner universities in Canada, Australia, Germany, Malta, Slovakia, Hungary or France, which is a fantastic opportunity to explore a new destination and experience the world as an international student.
Many of our students describe their time spent studying overseas as truly life-changing, as well as an excellent way to stand out to future employers.
What you'll study on this BA (Hons) Geography degree
Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
In each year, you need to study modules worth a total of 120 credits. For example, 4 modules worth 20 credits and 1 module worth 40 credits.
Core modules in this year include:
- Academic Communication Skills – 20 credits
- Environmental Processes and Hazards – 20 credits
- Global Environmental Challenges – 20 credits
- Practical Fieldwork Skills – 20 credits
- Society and Place – 20 credits
- Tools for Geographical Enquiry – 20 credits
There are no optional modules in this year.
Core modules in this year include:
- Research, Fieldwork and Professional Skills – 40 credits
Optional modules in this year include:
- Environmental Change – 20 credits
- Geographies of Development – 20 credits
- Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing – 20 credits
- Glaciers and Glaciation – 20 credits
- Introduction to Teaching – 20 credits
- Modern Foreign Language (Institution-wide Language Programme) – 20 credits
- Regional Economic Development and Inequality – 20 credits
- River Processes – 20 credits
- Sustainable Environmental Management – 20 credits
- Uneven Cities – 20 credits
On this course, you can do an optional work placement year between your 2nd and 3rd years to get valuable experience working in industry.
We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your situation and ambitions. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.
Core modules in this year include:
- Dissertation – 40 credits
Optional modules in this year include:
- Climate Change – 20 credits
- Cold Environments – 20 credits
- Conservation Biogeography – 20 credits
- Creative Economy, People and Place – 20 credits
- Environment and Society – 20 credits
- Environmental Auditing and Assessment – 20 credits
- Environmental Pollution and Waste Management – 20 credits
- Gender and Development – 20 credits
- Hazardscapes – 20 credits
- Introduction to Teaching – 20 credits
- Practical Boating Skills (geog) – 20 credits
- Quaternary Geology & Geomorphology – 20 credits
- Scientific & Technical Diving Techniques B (geog) – 20 credits
- Scientific & Technical Diving Techniques a (geog) – 20 credits
- Transport and Sustainability – 20 credits
- Weather Science – 20 credits
We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.
Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional modules may not run every year. If a module doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.
How you're assessed
You’ll be assessed through:
- contributions to electronic discussion forums
- web page design
You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.
You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.
The way you’re assessed will depend on the modules you select throughout your course. Here's an example from a previous year of how students on this course were typically assessed:
- Year 1 students: 50% by written exams, 14% by practical exams and 36% by coursework
- Year 2 students: 20% by written exams and 80% by coursework
- Year 3 students: 7% by written exams, 8% by practical exams and 85% by coursework
Teaching methods on this course include:
- one-to-one tutorials
You can access all teaching resources on Moodle, our virtual learning environment, from anywhere with a Web connection.
How you'll spend your time
One of the main differences between school or college and university is how much control you have over your learning.
We're planning for most of your learning to be supported by timetabled face-to-face teaching with some elements of online provision. Please be aware, the balance between face-to-face teaching and online provision may change depending on Government restrictions. You'll also do lots of independent study with support from staff and our virtual learning environment, Moodle. Find out more about how our teaching has transformed to best support your learning.
A typical week
We recommend you spend at least 35 hours a week studying for your Geography degree. In your first year, you’ll be in timetabled teaching activities such as tutorials, lectures, practical classes and workshops and external visits for about 11 hours a week. The rest of the time you’ll do independent study such as research, reading, coursework and project work, alone or in a group with others from your course. You'll probably do more independent study and have less scheduled teaching in years 2 and 3, but this depends on which modules you choose.
Most timetabled teaching takes place during the day, Monday to Friday. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings and at weekends.
The academic year runs from September to June. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter.
Supporting your learning
The amount of timetabled teaching you'll get on your degree might be less than what you're used to at school or college, but you'll also get support via video, phone and face-to-face from teaching and support staff when you need it. These include the following people and services:
Types of support
Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.
As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.
You'll have help from a team of faculty learning support tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.
They can help with:
- improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
- understanding and using assignment feedback
- managing your time and workload
- revision and exam techniques
As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK) for one-to-one support in areas such as:
- academic writing
- note taking
- time management
- critical thinking
- presentation skills
- working in groups
- revision, memory and exam techniques
If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.
They'll help you to:
- discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
- liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
- access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
- liaise with external services
Library staff are available in person or by email, phone or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from the faculty librarian for science.
The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.
Course costs and funding
Tuition fees (2022 start)
- UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 a year (may be subject to annual increase)
- EU students – £9,250 a year, including our Transition Scholarship (may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £18,300 a year (subject to annual increase)
You won't pay any extra tuition fees to another university for taking part in a study/work abroad activity if you choose to do it for the whole academic year. During a year abroad you'll only have to pay a reduced fee to the University of Portsmouth.
Funding your studies
Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students.
Additional course costs
These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.
Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.
You’ll study up to 6 modules a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.
You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.
Your course fees cover the cost of travel and accommodation for compulsory fieldwork, but you’ll need to budget for meals and subsistence costs.
On some of the optional units in the final year of the course, you’ll need to contribute to the cost of field trips. These costs are often £300–£2000. You can take optional units in your final year that have no field trips.
If you take a placement year, you’ll need to budget for the travel, accommodation and subsistence costs associated with the placement. These are generally £50–£1000, depending on destination and duration.
How to apply
To start this course in 2022, apply through UCAS. You'll need:
- the UCAS course code – L700
- our institution code – P80
If you'd prefer to apply directly, use our online application form.
You can also sign up to an Open Day to:
- Tour our campus, facilities and halls of residence
- Speak with lecturers and chat with our students
- Get information about where to live, how to fund your studies and which clubs and societies to join
If you're new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.
How to apply from outside the UK
See the 'How to apply' section above for details of how to apply. You can also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.
To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.
If you don't meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
Admissions terms and conditions
When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.