On this course you will usually be taught by a range of staff with relevant expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This will include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners, demonstrators, technicians and research students. You will also benefit from regular guest lectures from industry.
- Geographic Research Skills: This unit provides the necessary skills to conduct independent research in geography. These skills involve finding and evaluating academic literature, formulating scientific arguments and discussion, writing and presenting these ideas as essays, opinions and research papers. You may also collect field or laboratory data and perform simple numeric calculations and present data in graphical formats. To facilitate discussion and questions, much of the unit will be taught in tutorial sessions, which also allows you to get to know the core teaching team for your programme.
- Physical Geography: Taking an Earth Systems approach we will look at the evolution of our planet’s lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere focusing on the dynamic interactions between different earth system and how these interactions lead to environmental change through a narrative-based lecture series. Key themes will include the earth’s geological processes; basic principles of our solar system; heat engine atmospheric and oceanographic systems; biogeographical systems and surface processes, focussing on the physics common to all geomorphological processes.
- Practical Skills in Geography: This unit will give you the necessary practical skills needed for the field or laboratory. The skills learnt through observation and record keeping will help you come to logical inferences about the data collected. You will learn through a series of short courses utilising both field and lecture room settings. This is followed-up by a self-directed exercise where you take what you have learnt and combine all these skills.
- Earth and Society: Building an understanding of the way in which key aspects of our physical environment interact and impact the human environment, this unit provides a foundation in elements of Human and Physical Geography on which detailed knowledge can be built on in subsequent years.
- Human Geography: Providing an overview of the human, social and cultural aspects of geography, you will focus on key theories and fundamental principles of human geography, including economic, political and cultural aspects, often using case studies based on contemporary news stories and local development. You will appreciate the linkages and differences between physical and human geography, looking at settlement geography; cities, towns and villages and the key processes influencing landscapes and communities. Your theoretical knowledge will be enhanced by field trips.
- Residential Field Trip: This unit allows you to learn important field skills for your discipline and demonstrate your ability to work effectively as part of a team through experiencing the necessary conditions to conduct field research (both academically and socially). You will have four days of activities related to your discipline, followed by a final project day, where you will work on a team designed project of your choice.
- Advanced Skills for Geography: This unit builds and refreshes academic skills required for successful independent research in geography. Through small group discussions it will enable you to plan a successful independent research project and write a research proposal. It will also equip you with necessary survey, experimental design and data analysis techniques for completing the research project independently.
- Geographic Information Systems: Developing your expertise and knowledge in the area of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and geo-spatial science, we will provide you with an understanding of the principles underpinning spatial information science and its associated technology as well as its use in the real world to answer a wide variety of questions. You will manipulate and interrogate spatial data of various kinds whilst developing expertise in GIS and modelling. Emphasis is placed on data capture, analysis and the application of spatial information science for geographic and environmental decision making.
- Marine Geography: The geography of the marine environment will be covered in this unit through consideration of the key resources found in marine and coastal environments and their management frameworks, including key factors affecting marine and coastal biodiversity and aspects relevant to biogeography, characterisation of the physical environment and associated dynamic processes, environmental change and implications to the sustainable management of renewable and non-renewable resources. An important element of this unit is the collection and interpretation of marine and coastal data.
- Quaternary Environments: The aim of this unit is to enable understanding of the principles and practice of palaeoenvironmental reconstruction and how palaeoecological and Quaternary data can inform our understanding of the climate and environmental change during the Quaternary. We will also look at the changes that are believed to have taken place during the last 2.6 million years of the Quaternary. Data covered will include different biological and physical proxies such as pollen, molluscs, insects, mammals and sediments as well as more modern methods including ancient DNA. The applied nature of the discipline will also be covered. Data on past environmental change is beginning to be used to a greater extent as a base-line to understand what the environment was like before the increase in human influence i.e. during the time of hunter-gatherers (during pre-agricultural and pre-industrial times). Palaeoecological data from different proxy organism remains (animals and plants) also provide a longer timescale over which to understand ecological processes that operate beyond the length of a human lifetime or even the time represented by written history. Both climate change and other forms of environmental change such as human changes to the landscape will be covered and case studies from around the world will be included. Case studies will be used to further illustrate the theoretical perspective of the “past as the key to the future”.
- International Field Trip: Information on each trip will be provided during option selection sessions in the previous year or semester. Each trip will have a key theme or themes (e.g. conservation in practice in China; preparation for climate change in farming communities in Nepal). Much of the work will involve field-based lectures, discussions and also local speakers, but the bulk of activities will involve work on individual projects focussed on specific tasks within these broad concepts. Tutorial sessions will be available daily when on field work with the unit tutors.
Please note that if you choose to participate in the International Field Trip you must also choose one unit from each semester. This will mean you'll have asymmetrical work loadings.
Semester 1 (choose one):
- Ecosystems: We will enable you to develop an awareness of the importance of a range of ecosystems and develop your understanding of how ecosystems can be managed to conserve them.
Environmental Pollution: On this unit you will learn to understand a range of polluting impacts that human activities have on the environment. It will provide an overview of the causes of environmental pollution, the harm caused to the environment and the strategies used to both reduce and ameliorate negative environmental impacts.
Semester 2 (choose one):
- Environmental and Societal Challenges: Whilst you consider the relationships between humanity and the environment, you will be introduced to some of the big challenges faced by society today that stem from the impact of humanity on the earth system. By discussions about your place in society and your role in providing solutions to these challenges this unit will further your knowledge of science policy and application.
- Applications of Environmental Sciences: You will review a range of applied case studies in which environmental science is an important component. Topics likely to be covered are: air quality management, waste management and technology, Environmental Impact Assessment, renewable energy technology & policy, flood risk management & sustainable urban drainage systems, building efficiency & carbon management plans, environmental policy & legislation, concepts of sustainability, environmental economics.
- Globalisation and Marginalisation: Viewing the concept of globalisation from a number of alternative perspectives, you will consider the relationships between global processes, social policies and health and social care professions by examining the complex ways in which welfare structures, social policies and the everyday work of health and social care professionals are embedded within transnational relationships and developments. You will also consider a range of forms of marginalisation and inequality that are the outcome of global processes, the ways in which these are addressed or ignored by social welfare policies, and the challenges they present to those working in health and social care professions.
Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may only be available on a semester by semester basis. They may also change from year to year.
Year 3: optional work placement
You may choose to complete an optional a 30-week minimum work placement, or two 5 week placements, which can be carried out anywhere in the world. The placement year offers a chance to gain experience and make contacts for the future.
Year 3/4 (Final year):
- Independent Research Project: Your project provides you with an opportunity to gain experience of research in a topic of your choice relevant to your degree and to demonstrate your ability to report that research. Such experience is considered essential for those students interested in pursuing academic and/or professional research at a higher level of responsibility and achievement.
Semester 1 (choose two):
- Biological Oceanography: Making use of our fantastic location along the south coast, this unit will give you the opportunity of practical ‘hands on’ study, via field trips to locations such as Poole Bay and Poole Harbour. Through a combination of lectures, group problem-solving sessions and field trips, you will develop knowledge and understanding of the history of biological oceanography, the plankton, the benthos, the overall functioning of the ocean biota, as well as introducing some practical problems in biological oceanography (accumulation of pollutants, ocean acidification, and the possible manipulation of the biological pump).
- Cultural Ecology: Humans share their habitats with a multitude of other organisms and have to adapt to a variety of existing or changing circumstances of the natural environment. However, humans themselves change these basic conditions by using techniques, agreements, rules and modes of organisation in order to facilitate long-term settlement their habitat; they form and manipulate their environment as part of adaptation strategies within the framework of their personal interests and collective goals. Adaptations of human populations to their respective habitats thus always embrace cultural strategies and their biological conditions and consequences. By considering an ecosystems approach, this unit will give an overview and discuss of the diversity and correspondence of biocultural solutions, which human populations have developed to co-ordinate these two sides of their life support system.
- Climate and Environmental Change: Combining the expertise of our lecturers and special guest lecturers, this unit will provide a scientific background in the causes of climatic change, both natural and anthropogenic, and the trends that characterise and attribute this. With a key focus on examining the environmental, social and economic impacts of climatic change, you will have the opportunity to explore and voice your predictions of future impacts and the inevitability of uncertainty of those predicted futures. Including a local field trip to investigate microclimates, this unit will allow you to critically evaluate the potential for climate change mitigation and adaptation and the role of policy makers in this.
- Earth Surface Processes and Landforms: To introduce students to practical geomorphological research using selected case studies thereby developing their ability to design and execute research projects and undertake professional practice within geomorphology.
- Emergence & Extinction: Giving you an understanding of past and current theories surrounding the nature and effects of environmental change during the last 10 million years, various lines of evidence are considered including geomorphology, palynology, ice cores, fossil flora and fauna and genetics. The unit will include aspects of evolutionary theory and will consider theories relating both the emergence and extinction of species to wider environmental change. Consideration will also be given to differing approaches to understanding broad ecological changes and to competing hypotheses regarding both individual and mass extinctions.
- Environmental Remote Sensing: The unit develops expertise and knowledge in the area of environmental remote sensing, providing a detailed understanding of the principles of remote sensing as a source of spatial information. You will learn to manipulate and interrogate remotely sensed data of various kinds whilst developing expertise in image analysis and integrated
- Marine Conservation: This unit aims to enable you to critically evaluate approaches to the conservation and management of marine biodiversity including fisheries and protected areas. You will also examine legal processes and mechanisms that are applied to the conservation of marine and coastal environments.
Semester 2 (choose two):
- Topics in Wildlife Conservation: You will critically evaluate currently important topics in wildlife conservation from a range of perspectives and develop i) your skills in evaluating ecological data in the context of conservation ecology ii) your powers of reflection on your own perspective and ability to appreciate and integrate other perspectives within conservation ecology.
- Globalisation & Sustainable Development: Exploring the inter-relationships between controversial and contested terms, sustainable development and globalisation, you will develop the knowledge and skills to analyse, interpret and evaluate, the current issues and debates related to both concepts. We will extend conceptual knowledge of how sustainable development might be achieved in a context where globalisation is the predominant development ethos and unsustainable development and social injustice are accepted. The concepts will be examined from a number of disciplinary perspectives to enable you to evaluate the potential for, and limits to, the development of alternative relationships between people and their environments in a rapidly globalising world.
- Applied Biogeography: Applied biogeography focusses on the analysis and description of geographical patterns and their effects on biological processes. The unit will look at changes in such patterns over time in response to natural and anthropogenic factors, and the relationships between spatial pattern and biological processes that operate at landscape and regional scales. Many of the environmental pressures affecting sites managed for conservation relate to the surrounding patterns of land use, and to a range of processes operating at larger spatial scales. Contemporary environmental management is thus increasingly supported by spatially explicit analyses that take a broad geographical perspective. Successful completion of the unit will enable you to recognise, assess and analyse landscape and regional scale patterns of land use resulting from both natural processes and human activities, and critically evaluate how such patterns influence key processes affecting biodiversity and the provision of environmental services.
- Environmental Law and Management: You will need a critical understanding of the body of law that is concerned with threats to environmental quality and ecosystems. Together, we will examine how environmental law seeks to regulate damage to the environment, focusing on particular areas such as climate change, air pollution control, conservation of natural environment, water, waste and environmental management systems. The focus is primarily on the system of environmental laws and regulations in the UK, but will also consider how this has been impacted by European and international environmental law. The broader themes and ideas underpinning the unit will be explored by reference to examples taken from both the UK and other jurisdictions.
- Freshwater Resource Management: The aim of the unit is to present theory and practice for issues relating to the conservation and management of freshwater resources. It covers a range of aspects of freshwater resource management including sustainable development, conservation and key issues from a planning policy and decision making perspective. By providing a framework to actively make managerial decisions, the unit enables problems to be identified, analysed and solutions to be proposed including the promotion of sustainable communities and public participation in the planning process and environmental assessment.
Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may only be available on a semester by semester basis. They may also change from year to year.
Scheduled learning and teaching activities
The hours below give an indication of how you can expect to spend your time during each year of this course. You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and practical sessions. Your independent learning could include reading books and journal articles, working on group projects, preparing presentations, conducting library research and writing your assignments. Support in key skills is embedded from the first year and throughout the course. In your second and third year you will work on placements as well as having guided independent study time. In your final year you will also have field research skills week, which includes practical exercises and group based research within the local environment.
Year 1 – 26% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities
- Learning and teaching: 240 hours
- Independent learning: 960 hours
Year 2 – 22% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities
- Learning and teaching: 240 hours
- Independent learning: 780 hours
Year 3 - 19% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities
- Learning and teaching: 264 hours
- Independent learning: 916 hours
68% of the course is assessed by coursework
- Year 1: 92%
- Year 2: 46%
- Final year: 67%
Throughout the course you will be assessed by coursework culminating in your final year research project, but you will also undertake group work and written exams.
Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.
Download the programme specification for BSc (Hons) Geography.
Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.
All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.
At BU, we recognise that placements are extremely valuable and can give you a head start when it comes to your future career; therefore we now offer every new student the opportunity to undertake an industrial placement as part of their course. What’s more, you can also choose to take your placement abroad, giving you the opportunity to develop yourself personally, academically, and professionally and gain skills to help you stand out in the job market. Why not read about some of our students’ experiences?
How long is my placement?
You will begin your placement after completion of your second year of study and you must complete a minimum of 5 weeks, or 30 weeks during your third year of study.
We have important links to outside agencies and organisations to best support you along your professional development, and dedicated Placement Officers to support you.
Placements may be paid, although some employers may offer expenses only. A number of students have secured placements through the STEP project, which guarantees payment for an eight-week placement. Placement organisations have included the Environment Agency, Southern Water, Dorset County Council, The National Trust, Forestry Commission, Dyfed Wildlife Trust, Fawley Research Laboratories and Scottish National Heritage.
Gain additional practical skills and experience… be part of The Student Environment Research Team.
SERT gives you the opportunity to gain experience and practical skills, as a volunteer, through a wide range of short projects relevant to your professional practice. Each SERT project and its report is viewable on the web so you can demonstrate the skills you have gained to future employers. Find out more about SERT.
Background and experience
We want committed, keen, enthusiastic students who are going to make a real difference to the course they are studying. Our students learn from each other, as well as their academic staff, so it is really important to us that you can show us how much you care about the course you are interested in. Your UCAS personal statement is a great place to do this. Tell us about your personal achievements or any relevant work experience you have done, and show us how they make you the ideal candidate for a place on the course.
For this course we are looking for:
- Previous experience and enjoyment of fieldwork
- Willingness to engage with the public
- Ability to think abstractly, and especially spatially
- Comfortable working with information technology
- Previous study of geography.
Geography encompasses an incredibly broad curriculum and suits those with varied learning abilities (Logical, Visual, Kinaesthetic and other thinkers). It certainly suits those who enjoy fieldwork and there are also many & varied placements. It is essential you are willing and able to engage with the public. Geographers must be multi-faceted and able to think multi-dimensionally, on different levels and from different perspectives.
You should also be comfortable with complex, abstract ideas (be able to conceptualise, as well as process and synthesise varied issues) and especially be able to think spatially. Being comfortable with trigonometry is a bonus, but IT is essential to contemporary geography and therefore you must be proficient using computers. Most of all potential geography students must be avidly interested in the world around them and be aware of the impacts in/of both physical and human environments.
Our offer making process
Our offer making will typically be based on your three main graded qualifications, including any required subjects. Additional study may be valuable for breadth of study, and we will look at a range of qualifications and subjects, including the Extended Project Qualification and General Studies, although these may not be part of our offer.
If you do not meet the criteria of your original offer, we may still offer you a place. We will review your whole application and consider all academic qualifications (including those not in the offer) and the rest of the application to see if you have the academic potential to succeed on the course. If we feel the answer is yes, we will still confirm your place.
How we'll assess your application
We look at individual applications and make a tailored offer based on your potential to succeed on the course considering a range of factors, including your academic achievements, work and other experience, predicted grades, reference and personal statement, and in some cases, your performance at an interview/selection test.
If you meet one or more of our contextual data indicators for educational disadvantage (such as being in care, living in a low participation neighbourhood or in an area with less advantaged socio-economic characteristics), your offer could be between 6-20 points below the published tariff.
We’ll be selecting the candidates for this course by looking at their UCAS applications, there are no interviews or selection activities needed. For that reason, make sure your application really stands out from the crowd, and leave us in no doubt as to why you should be joining BU. You can find some handy hints about filling in your UCAS form on our how to apply web pages.
Unconditional offer scheme
Our Unconditional Offer Scheme seeks to reward exceptional applicants who are predicted to achieve top academic results. The scheme is offered to applicants on all courses who are predicted AAA at A-level/triple Distinction in BTEC Extended Diploma, or above, or equivalent, subject to any course selection measures and meeting other entry criteria (i.e. required qualifications). What’s more we’ll recognise your achievement if you meet these grades with an Academic Excellence Scholarship from £1,500 when you arrive*.
We believe that unconditional offers will reduce pressure on applicants who will continue to strive to achieve the best grades possible. Excellent grades will become a part of applicants’ CVs and are also required for BU’s scholarships. International qualifications are considered in the scheme; however applicants must satisfy the English language requirements. *Our scholarships are subject to terms, conditions and eligibility criteria, detailed on our scholarships pages.
2017 entry requirements
The new UCAS Tariff will be used for September 2017 entry.
The entry requirements for this course are 104 to 120 tariff points including 3 A-Levels or equivalent qualifications. BTEC Extended Diploma DMM. We will not accept General Studies for this course.
UCAS have created a helpful calculator so you can calculate points to use for courses starting from September 2017 onwards.
Excluded subjects: This course does not accept General Studies
Numeracy and literacy: We need to be sure that you can express yourself in written English and have basic numeracy skills. We look at Level 2 of the National Qualifications Framework, which includes, but is not limited to, GCSEs, iGCSEs, Key Skills and Functional Skills Level 2. If you do not have formal qualifications to this level or have alternatives, we may still be able to consider your application – please contact the askBU Enquiry Service to find out more.
GCSEs: A minimum of 4 GCSEs grades A* - C (or grade 4 or above in the newly reformed GCSE grading) including a Science, Maths and English or equivalent qualifications.
We have outlined below other qualifications that we consider for this course. If you are studying a qualification that is not listed, please contact the askBU Enquiry Service. It may be that we can still consider it.
Access Courses: BU welcomes Access to HE Diploma applicants. This course requires applicants to Pass the Access to HE Diploma (Science) (with 60 Credits - at least 45 at level 3, remainder at level 2 or equivalent). Any combination of grades to meet the overall tariff is acceptable.
Extended Diploma: This course requires from Distinction, Merit, Merit.
Diploma: This course requires at least Distinction, Merit in addition to one A-level in a required subjects to acheive the overall tariff.
90-credit Diploma: The 90-credit Diploma will be accepted as part of your overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-levels or equivalent qualifications.
Subsidiary Diploma: This course requires at least a Distinction in addition to two A-levels in a required subject to achieve the overall tariff.
A combination of BTEC qualifications to meet the overall course tariff is also acceptable.
Cambridge Pre-U Diploma: We welcome applicants studying the Cambridge Pre-U Diploma or a combination of Pre-U subjects and A-levels.
European Baccalaureate: Applicants are required to achieve a minimum score of 71-75% overall.
International Baccalaureate (Diploma): The IB Diploma is welcomed as part of the International Baccalaureate (IB). This course requires 28-31 points including 5 points from each of the 3 Higher Level subjects.
Scottish Qualifications: Scottish Advanced Highers, Scottish Highers and other Scottish qualifications are all welcomed providing that your results meet the overall course tariff.
Welsh Baccalaureate: The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma is welcomed alongside A-Levels or equivalent, to meet the overall course tariff.
OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Qualification: The OCR Extended Diploma or a combination of one Diploma plus one Introductory Diploma is acceptable for entry to this course.
- Extended Diploma: This course requires Distinction, Merit, Merit.
Other combinations of OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical qualifications to meet the overall course tariff may be acceptable.
Extended Project Qualification: The grade achieved for the Extended Project may be taken into account when considering whether or not to accept a candidate who has marginally failed to meet the conditions of their offer.
Deferred Entry: We are happy to consider applicants for deferred entry.
International entry requirements
English language requirements
If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:
IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 5.5 in each component, or equivalent.
View further information about our English language requirements.
If you do not meet the English language requirement for your degree then why not join our Pre-Sessional English course? Successful completion of our Pre-Sessional English course will meet your English language requirement, without the need to re-take IELTS.
Academic entry requirements
You can find details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our entry requirements for non-UK students’ page.
This course very much focuses on the practical elements of geography, preparing you for work in a diverse range of jobs and in varied industries when you graduate. As a university, we have a strong graduate employment record and on this degree programme you will have the opportunity to gain practical experience through work placements, as well as what you learn in your lectures. Our staff have a wealth of research, educational and consultancy experience and will prepare you for the world of work once you graduate. Within six months of finishing their course, 90%* of our students who completed our previous degree: BSc (Hons) Applied Geography are in work or further study.
These students are working in various roles across a range of organisations and sectors, including:
- Environmental Scientist
- Land Surveyor
- Development Assistant.
Among the organisations you could work for on graduating are government agencies, local authorities, environmental and landscape consultancies, multi-national companies and voluntary organisations. There is a range of fields you can specialise in, such as:
- Resource management
- Renewable energy
- Countryside management.
Having knowledge of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) is particularly sought after by many employers and honing this skill while studying for your degree will mean you have many options when it comes to employment after you graduate.
Once you have completed an undergraduate Honours degree, you can further develop your education by studying for a postgraduate degree. Please visit our Postgraduate section for further details about our range of Master's degrees.
*All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.
Meet our staff
Pippa Gillingham is the programme leader for BSc (Hons) Geography. Pippa joined BU in early 2012 as a lecturer in Biogeography, with responsibility for teaching Geographical Information Systems to both Undergraduate and Masters students. Her research interests could be summed up as ‘where species are found and why’, with particular interest in how landform affects the conditions experienced by organisms and in how climate change will affect where species are found in the future.