Geography

BA (Hons) or BSc (Hons)

Clearing places are available on this course

UCAS code: F840

Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Full time: 3 years

Part time: up to 6 years

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of Law and Social Sciences

Find a course

Expand

Overview

Will you focus on environmental issues? Geopolitics? Do you dream of making a difference in the charity sector, or using your analytical skills to help businesses thrive sustainably? As one of the most versatile degrees you can study, geography opens many doors.

Studying Geography at Oxford Brookes turns you into a problem solver; an independent thinker; a specialist in your field – with a wide range of knowledge in everything from climate change to urban planning. With our field trips, specialist labs, and strong alumni network, we’ll help you build the skills and network you’ll need to succeed in your dream career.

In physical geography, topics include desertification, marine pollution, climate policy and biodiversity loss. In human geography, you could look at international governance, the political geography of borders, the future of cities, disaster management, or environmental hazards.

These topics are all deeply interlinked. You'll explore the connections between people and the planet, learn to understand complex global problems and make a difference in the world.

Order a Prospectus Ask a question Attend an open day or webinar

Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • A broad range of topics
    We cover everything from biodiversity loss to geopolitics; disaster management to heritage conservation. Study the areas that interest you.
  • Practical, career-focused course
    Instead of exams, you’ll complete assignments such as lab experiments and reports, or create presentations, reflecting what you may be tasked with in your career.
  • Small, friendly classes
    Most year groups have around 25-60 students. Tutors quickly get to know students and are there whenever you need support.
  • Widely applicable skills
    You’ll learn skills like data analysis and how to use Geographical Information Systems (GIS) that are valuable across a wide range of job roles.
  • Get hands-on experience
    With frequent field-based exercises included in your course fees (including overseas), and access to our labs, you’ll have lots of practical work to immerse yourself in.
  • Free language courses

    Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

  • Study abroad

    You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are at Oxford Brookes. Although we will help as much as we can with your plans, ultimately you are responsible for organising and funding this study abroad.

  • Accreditation(s)

    This programme has been accredited by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). Accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in geographical knowledge and skills, and prepare graduates to address the needs of the world beyond higher education.

    • Royal Geographical Society

Course details

Course structure

In Year 1, you’ll develop a wide range of skills like river surveying, geomorphological mapping, and social research skills like interview and survey design. You’ll explore both human and physical geography, covering many environmental and sustainability topics.

Your first year includes a UK-based, multi-day field trip, with costs included in your fees.

In Year 2, you can narrow your focus and choose areas that interest you via optional modules. Topics vary across human and physical geography. Example areas of study include geopolitics, environmental change, the carbon cycle, and heritage management.

Year 2 includes an international field trip, with costs included in your fees.

After your second year, you have the opportunity to get international experience in your degree - via either study or an industry placement abroad, or you can progress to the final year of the course.

In your final year, you can specialise further in human or physical geography. Or keep studying a range of topics such as desertification and atmospheric science, or how human culture relates to nature.

Geography students during a practical lesson

Learning and teaching

You’ll learn in many different ways as you study. This will make the most of your skills - wherever your strengths lie and whatever your learning style.

You’ll experience teaching methods like:

  • seminars and lectures
  • field investigations
  • lab experiments and analysis
  • simulations
  • research conferences
  • debates
  • interactive field trails
  • group work
  • visiting speakers.

Assessment

Your learning will be assessed by coursework. And you’ll carry out your coursework both individually, and in small groups. You’ll run project investigations, write reports and essays, create digital stories, compile portfolios and compose learning journals. You’ll also have the chance to use dedicated data analysis software, like Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

Your coursework will be directly relevant to the changing world around you. You might write a report assessing carbon concentrations in our atmosphere. Or you might make a short film on sustainable development and climate action.

Field Trips

On this course, you’ll carry out field work both in the UK and overseas.

In your first year, if you’re a single honours student, you’ll go on a three-day field trip in the UK, where you’ll examine key geographic issues, on-site. You might analyse river quality or river flow. You might explore changing mountain environments - like areas once covered by glaciers. You might examine national identities and sense of place. Or you might learn about urban regeneration and the politics of changing landscapes.

In your second year, you’ll carry out field work overseas. You’ll work with a small project team to research a specific issue. You might examine issues like:

  • coastal erosion
  • water management
  • management of UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • cultural tourism.

You’ll be guided all the way through by one of your tutors - and you’ll emerge with confident research, project-management and team working skills.

You’ll really get to know your coursemates and your tutors well during your fieldwork. You’ll be part of a close-knit course community, and you’ll build supportive relationships with your tutors. You’ll start to feel more comfortable sharing your perspectives, and you’ll become more confident collaborating with your coursemates on projects and coursework.

The costs of travel and accommodation on all compulsory field trips are covered by the University.

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Introduction to Human Geography

    What can geography tell us about what it means to be human and how we relate to the natural world? How can we understand the complexity of human identity and culture? In this module, you’ll gain an understanding of human geography, as you investigate key themes of space and place, environment and society. You’ll gain core analytical skills for your degree, as you consider how society and culture shape our landscapes, and how spatial differences and inequalities are generated. You’ll consider how approaches in human geography can shed light on pressing political issues today.

  • Introduction to Geographical Skills and Techniques

    In this module, you’ll be introduced to the techniques most widely used in human and physical geographical research, including:

    • mapping
    • surveying
    • observational recording
    • focus groups, interviews and questionnaires.

    The module introduces practical geographical techniques and broader academic techniques such as literature work, citations and referencing.  Although the module is largely theoretical, in preparation for the year 2 module ‘Advanced Research Skills for Geographers’, you’ll also undertake local field-based exercises, designed to demonstrate the techniques in action. You’ll be involved in tasks such as:

    • making detailed, empirical geographical observations using widely employed geographical equipment
    • locating and exploring geographical databases and archives
    • using basic digital mapping programmes to investigate the physical and human environment.
  • Investigating Geography

    In this module, you’ll gain core skills you need to succeed in your Geography degree. You will undertake the first steps as a researcher in geography, and report on a range of geographical topics. You’ll learn how to address pressing global challenges through key geographical techniques, as well as scientific, economic and political investigation.

  • Introduction to Physical Geography

    In this module you’ll examine key themes and topics in physical geography, using climate change as an overarching context. You’ll gain a geographical grounding in climate change science and examine core areas that relate to climate change in physical geography, including environmental processes, systems and management linked to climate change. You’ll explore recent and future developments in physical geography.

  • Geographical Perspectives

    What makes a geographer? What does a practising professional geographer do? This module will help you answer these questions, as you discover more about geography as a discipline, a set of spatial practices and a profession. You’ll explore concepts associated with geographical keywords (such as space, place and landscape), and cover topics from geographical histories to contemporary issues. You’ll look at how human and physical geography features in the news and current debates. You’ll learn more about research and writing about geography for a range of audiences.
     

  • Sustainability and Development

    How can we build sustainable environments in which we can live, work and relax? In this module, you’ll learn about sustainability and the three overlapping issues of sustainable development - environmental, social and economic. You’ll examine how infrastructure and resource-use affect the sustainability of England’s built and natural environment.

    You’ll gain knowledge of the land-use planning system in England, and how it can help to deliver a more sustainable environment. You'll explore sustainable development through a broad focus, to consider bio-physical components (land, water, biodiversity, buildings), social issues (such as quality of life and equity) and economic issues (such as how to understand the value the environment brings to a sustainable economy).

Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Geographical Enquiry and Field Research

    Field work is at the heart of our geography course and this module helps you develop the practical and research skills you’ll need. During this module you will develop essential knowledge and skills in research methods and data analysis. With guidance, you’ll undertake a substantive piece of research, which you’ll conduct during the residential field trip. The research capabilities you build will be invaluable, both for your dissertation and your career after Oxford Brookes.

  • Development and Global Change

    Why are some countries rich and others poor? What does development mean exactly - economic growth, social justice, or environmental sustainability? Does development help countries, or stop them growing? How do grassroots movements emerge, and how do they resist global inequality? In this module, you’ll look at geographical approaches to international development (the idea that different countries have differing levels of ‘development’ internationally). You’ll understand issues, including:

    • histories of international development and globalisation
    • political geography and colonialism
    • theories of development
    • international development institutions, such as the United Nations
    • poverty and inequality
    • social development and social justice
    • participatory and community-based approaches
    • sustainable development
    • climate change adaptation
    • vulnerability to natural disasters.
  • Environmental Hazard Management

    In this module you will develop an understanding of the way that environmental processes can become potential hazards. You will study how hazards sometimes become disasters and the measures used to manage disasters and mitigate risk. You will explore contemporary approaches to environmental hazard / disaster management including: the efficacy of Aid; the role of the military in disaster relief; whether forecasting really saves lives; and the role of the mass media and new technology in disaster management. You will get to investigate real case studies and present your work individually and as part of a team.

Optional modules

Biogeography

How can a knowledge of the world’s species help solve climate change and conservation issues? In this module, you’ll get to know biogeography (the study of species and ecosystems through time and space). You’ll explore the scientific background of ecosystem research, focusing on freshwater and terrestrial (land) environments. You’ll investigate the distribution of species and ecosystems in response to past, current and future environmental changes. Your learning will be informed by the latest global research, and your assignments based upon the most recent scientific publications. 

Cities: Geographies of the Urban Experience

In Cities: Geographies of the Urban Experience, you will be introduced to urban geography. Throughout the module, you will explore a range of ways in which cities shape, and are shaped by people. From the modern architectural movement, to protest and public space, you will learn about the central role that cities play in politics and everyday life. Central to the module is understanding the ways in which inequality is built into urban life, and what we can do to challenge it.

Conservation and Heritage Management

In this module, you’ll explore heritage landscapes, and their identity as places of cultural or community value. You’ll study some of the world’s most magnificent heritage as you consider how heritage landscapes have evolved over time. You’ll look at their conservation and management, and the physical and human impact upon them. You’ll get to grips with the core concepts and themes of environmental conservation, heritage management and sustainable development. You’ll understand the rules and regulations, as well as the roles of advisors, in how we protect sites. You’ll also build up knowledge of different ecosystems, their origins and how human interactions impact their development. 

Geographies of Migration

Study and explore one of the most fundamental processes of human-environment relations - migration. You will focus on contemporary examples of migration across a range of contexts. You will develop a critical understanding of the ways in which migration shapes the:

  • social
  • political
  • cultural
  • economic
  • and environmental geographies.

You will also look at the ways in which migration patterns and experiences are shaped by the geographical.

Earth Systems

In this module, you’ll gain an understanding of The Earth as a global system. You’ll consider it in terms of spheres: the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere, each interacting in different scales of time and space. You’ll gain core information needed to succeed in physical geography, as you understand how these spheres underpin the character and behaviour of the global system that we observe. You’ll explore each of these spheres in detail, gaining a whole picture of the global system. To do this you will engage with a range of disciplines, including:

  • geology
  • hydrology
  • micro- and macro-ecology
  • atmospheric chemistry
  • physics
  • computer modelling.

Geographical Information Systems

This module gives you a grounding in the concepts, components and functions of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). You’ll develop knowledge and understanding of spatial data, including methods for data capture and spatial analysis within a GIS environment. You’ll acquire extensive practical experience using the industry standard GIS software, developing skills in creating and editing digital maps and incorporating third party sources of spatial data. You’ll be able to use this data for spatial analysis, modelling and decision support, and gain valuable skills for your future career.

Independent Study: Work and Community Related Learning

In this module, you’ll have the chance to do some work experience closely linked to your Geography course. You might be an intern with a company, or working as a volunteer in the local community, or you might have a role in the university, for example as a student ambassador. Your tutors will advise you, but you’ll be in charge of the direction you take and the learning opportunity involved. 

With careful thinking about what you want to achieve and how the work you do will support your learning, you’ll gain a better understanding of the world of work. You may also develop a stronger sense of the career you’d like after Brookes. Whatever the focus of your independent study, you’ll notice the benefits, whether it’s the satisfaction gained from volunteering, the new knowledge you’ve gained or the skills you’ve improved.

Political Geography: Place and Power

What are the connections between place and power? This module introduces you to political geography and geopolitics. You’ll look at both historical and ongoing debates to enable you to understand the spatial and material relations of political power, including territory, borders, mobility, security, nations, nationalism, sovereignty and environmental politics. You’ll interrogate and challenge common assumptions about geopolitics and explore geographical ideas in the light of current events, emphasising the relevance and real-world application of political geographical thought.

Quaternary Environmental Change

Sea levels are rising; glaciers are melting; Arctic sea ice is thinning and weather events are becoming more extreme. We are in the grip of global warming. But how do these changes compare with the environmental changes that have occurred in the past? What does the past teach us about how natural and human factors may interact to change our climate and environment in the future? 

In this module you’ll examine changes to the physical environment throughout the Quaternary: the last 2.6 million years of geological history and time during which humans have evolved and spread across the earth. You’ll examine the causes of climatic and environmental change over different timescales and the complex interactions between human impacts and natural processes, gaining perspective on current environmental and climatic concerns.

International Year Abroad

Optional modules

International Year Abroad

This is your opportunity to work or study in another country, so you can experience a different culture from the UK. You’ll be able to apply and test your knowledge and skills in new contexts that will significantly develop your employability profile.

Choosing this module will allow you to exhibit the development of self-management and working or studying in unfamiliar contexts, alongside practising cross-cultural communication and interpersonal skills.

You will receive support and guidance to help you find a place in an available partner university, or to find a work placement for your international year abroad. This international year abroad module lasts for one academic year and is taken after the conclusion of your second year of study, once you’ve completed all your level 5 studies. Your international year abroad is not credit-bearing.

The opportunity can be approached in 2 different ways. Please see your options below: 
 

Study in a non UK University Option

You can attend a non-UK higher education institution for a full academic year. You’ll be able to choose modules in your own subject or in a subject you consider would benefit your overall course of study. You may choose to deepen your knowledge of your degree subject or enhance it by developing complementary skills.

By studying in an international university you’ll progress your interpersonal skills through cross-cultural communication with fellow students and tutors, building lasting relationships. Also you’ll further develop your study skills as you focus on your selected areas of interest to you - while developing and progressing an international study experience that will add significance to your CV.
 

Work-based Learning Option

Undertake a work placement or work-related project based on your interests and existing skills. You will create an initial learning contract that shows clearly how your proposed placement or project will link with your academic and/or professional aims.

This pathway helps you to have full control over what your work-related learning looks like. You will advance your skills in a practical setting, gain first-hand experience in a work environment, and begin to create your professional network. Also, taking initiative of your learning in such a way will mean that you will stand out when you apply for jobs after graduation.
 

Final Year

Compulsory modules

  • Geography Dissertation

    This module gives you the chance to do an independent investigation on a topic that fascinates you. Whether you’re creating a field-based, computer-based, laboratory-based or library-based topic, you’ll gain core skills for your future career and shape your project around your passions. 

Optional modules

Sustainable Futures

On this module, you will look at current and future global challenges that face geographers.

You will draw on academic research expertise. You will look at physical, human and environmental geographical issues related to a sustainable future.

You will explore what geographers can contribute using your geographical skills:

  • the geographical imagination
  • ethical subject-hood
  • integrative thinking
  • spatial thinking
  • and a structured exploration of place.

Arid Zone Environments

What is the nature and extent of arid environments and how do they interact with the global climate system? In this module you’ll gain knowledge of:

  • long-term and short-term variations in climate
  • the nature and extent of drylands
  • the rates and types of processes operating in these environments.

You’ll also look at human impacts on drylands, including desertification, salinization (increasing salt content in soils) and deforestation, and consider the impact that future climate change may have on arid systems.

Climate Change: The Physical Basis

You will develop a broad understanding of climate science. By examining evidence from a range of observation, process, modelled and paleoclimate data.

You will explore how the chemical and physical changes. Which is often driven by human activity and has global and regional impacts. You'll also look at how this leads to informing the climate policy-making process.

Cultural Geographies of Nature

What is nature? Where is nature? From gardens and museums to animals and genes, in this module, you’ll examine the social and cultural significance of nature in Britain and North America. You’ll use social and cultural theories to investigate a range of historical and contemporary case studies, exploring diverse topics, issues and locations. You’ll gain important analytical skills for your degree and future career as you interpret a range of media, sources and local field study to gain a critical understanding of the connections between nature, society and space.

Dawn of Civilization

How did the modern world come to be? The answer to this question lies in an understanding of the relationships between climate, landscape and society in Southwest Asia between 20,000 and 5,000 years ago. At the beginning of this period, during the height of the ice age, human communities existed as nomadic hunter gatherers. But by the end of this time, during the warmer Holocene period, many inhabitants of the region were living in the world’s first cities, engaging in agriculture, long distance trade and warfare. 

In this module, you’ll examine the archaeological and palaeoclimatic evidence for these complex transformations. You’ll look at how, when and where they took place, focusing on the role of climate change and landscape on social, technological and economic processes. You’ll develop key skills in evaluating evidence, theories, methods and analytical techniques.

Future Cities

What will cities look like in fifty years? What did thinkers from the mid-nineteenth century to today propose about how to reconstruct and manage urban life? From global warming to ageing populations, you'll examine the trends that are shaping the cities of the future, and gain key analytical skills as you consider how cities might best adapt to these challenges. As with the Year 2 Cities module, we’ll focus on urban society as much as on city form, regarding people and place as inseparable.

Independent Study in Geography

This module gives you the chance to carry out independent research on a topic that fascinates you. You’ll have the help of an expert tutor, as you decide on a topic based on a unique and interesting subject. You’ll gain core research and project management skills for your future career, as you create, manage and complete your own project. 

Oceans and the Marine Environment

In this module you’ll explore the physical nature of oceans, from their chemical composition and circulation to the influence of oceans on the global climate system. By understanding the way in which oceans behave, we can comprehend how all of the components of the Earth’s systems fit together. You’ll explore topics ranging from the physics and biology of oceans to records of past ocean change, from marine pollution to ocean policy and governance of our marine environment.

Political geographies of borders: past, present and future

This module closely examines the complex history, contested present and potential futures of one of the most important and consequential geographic devices in today’s world: borders. It traces the historical development of territorial and sovereign practices that have led to the concept of borders as we know them today, addresses debates about the continuing relevance of borders in today’s world, and looks ahead to the future of borders as they intersect with pressing concerns such as climate change, migration and identitarian movements.

Disasters, Development and Society

Why are some people and places more vulnerable to disasters than others? What are the origins of this inequity, and what can we do about it?

You'll explore the relationship between disasters, environment and society. And learn why disasters are not ‘natural’, but are rather produced by their development context. You'll learn why uneven development breeds uneven vulnerability to risk, and vice versa.

You'll gain knowledge of development geography and political ecology. And examine why a physical hazard-focused approach to disaster risk management is problematic and the need for alternatives that address systemic root causes of risk.

We will look at the workings of power and politics at all stages of disaster (before, during and after) at a range of scales. You'll assess current practice in disaster risk reduction throughout the module. Along with examining the role of climate change in shifting geographies of vulnerability.

You'll examine these issues through a range of case studies.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

Careers

As a geography graduate you will have a world of opportunities open to you, with a diverse skill set that can be applied to almost any sector.

From problem solving to presentation, this course helps you develop an array of transferable skills that many employers value highly.

Our graduates are working in a range of roles such as:
  • senior environment and sustainability consultant
  • senior GIS Officer for a local council
  • content operations assistant at a TV streaming company
  • secondary school head of geography
  • planning director at a housing partnership
  • freelance public relations consultant
  • programme director for a human trafficking and antislavery Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO)
  • senior research manager at a university
  • AI automation logistics specialist
  • founder of a social media brand management company.
Whatever your career goals, a geography degree will develop you into an insightful, multi-skilled, capable professional. We look forward to being part of your journey.

Student profiles

Our Staff

Dr Joseph (Joe) Williams

He is an expert in a range of field and laboratory based sediment core analyses, including; ecological surveys, core retrieval, processing and description, chronological establishment, fossil pollen/spore, charcoal and macroinvertebrate identification, geochemical determination, and the associated ecological interpretations of palaeolimnological records.

Read more about Joseph (Joe)

Joint honours options

You can also study this course as part of a joint honours degree. This course can be joined with:

Entry requirements

Wherever possible we make our conditional offers using the UCAS Tariff. The combination of A-level grades listed here would be just one way of achieving the UCAS Tariff points for this course.

Standard offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 104

A Level: BCC

IB Points: 29

BTEC: DMM

Contextual offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 88

A Level: CCD

IB Points: 27

BTEC: MMM

Further offer details

For joint honours, normally the offer will lie between the offers quoted for each subject.

Applications are also welcomed for consideration from applicants with European qualifications, international qualifications or recognised foundation courses. For advice on eligibility please contact Admissions: admissions@brookes.ac.uk

International qualifications and equivalences

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£15,950

Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£16,750

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£15,950

2025 / 26
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£16,750

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400

financefees@brookes.ac.uk

Please note, tuition fees for Home students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning Home students at the maximum permitted level.

Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students. 

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support. 

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

Information from Discover Uni

Full-time study

Part-time study

Programme changes:
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our changes to programmes page.