BA (Hons) Geography - University of Portsmouth
A Gold rating in teaching excellence Read more
BA (Hons)


UCAS codeL700

full time3yrs

placement option1yr

Capturing the diversity of the human environment

Course Overview

Why take this course?

Are you interested in the world about you and its relationship with human societies and the future of our planet? Then the study of BA (Hons) Geography is the course you’re looking for.

By choosing to specialise in the human aspects of geography through your unit options, you will graduate with the BA in Geography. The course will equip you with a set of practical skills to understand and engage with the world, its people, communities and cultures. It will investigate how we manage, support and conserve our environment with an emphasis on how governments, businesses and our everyday lives serve to construct, maintain and develop global and local systems of wealth and disadvantage.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Benefit from a 'skills-focused' and 'research-led' curriculum that produces rounded graduates and geographers with broad research of transferable skills. 
  • Get a distinct flavour of some of the societies or landscapes you may be studying via real-world fieldwork
  • Go abroad to study through one of exchange links with universities in Spain, France and Poland or take an optional sandwich year with a relevant employer

What opportunities might it lead to?

BA Geography develops a wide range of transferrable skills valued by employers in communication, problem solving, decision making, team work and IT.  BA Geography provides you with a broad knowledge of the world and contemporary issues, which helps you understand the context in which a range of organisations operate.

A range of careers will be open to you including those in environmental management, business management, public services (including health authorities), local and central government, voluntary sector and NGOs, and teaching.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • environmental consultancies
  • geographical information science specialists
  • working for the Environmental Agency
  • working for the Ordnance Survey
  • working with IBM


Shannon Diment, BA (Hons) Geography graduate 2012

I think the field work really enhanced my learning, by taking the skills you’d learnt in the classroom or on the computer and putting them into a real-life perspective.

Shannon Diment, BA (Hons) Geography graduate 2012


Geography: Uganda Field Trip

Hear from Tom and Vikki about their fantastic fieldtrip to Uganda, where they spent two weeks researching the challenges of managing the environment there.

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Structure & Teaching

Year one

In the first year of your studies, you will be introduced to the breadth of human geography including environmental systems, environmental issues and management as well as research and fieldwork skills.

Core units in this year include:

  • Society and Place
  • Global Environmental Challenges
  • Environmental Processes and Hazards
  • Tools for Geographical Enquiry
  • Practical Fieldwork Skills
  • Academic Communication Skills

Year two

In your second year, you can either choose to continue your studies on a broad basis or specialise in the aspects that interest you most. You’ll also get the chance to travel overseas for some field work.

Core units in this year include:

  • Research Design and Practice
  • Residential Field Class

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Geopolitics and Geographies of Development
  • Geographies of Wellbeing, Work and Place
  • Reconstructing Communities
  • Employability Skills for Geographers
  • Mapping and Modelling Our World
  • Sustainable Environmental Management
  • Environmental Hazards: Concepts and Monitoring
  • Environmental Assessment and Management
  • Dynamic Landscapes: Rivers, Glaciers and Coasts
  • Environmental and Climate Change: Theory
  • Environmental and Climate Change: Practice

Year three

Specialise further in your final year, with a selection of study options depending on which geography pathway you choose and the chance to do your own independent research.

Core units in this year include:

  • Independent Study

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Geographies of Children and Young People
  • Creative Economy, People and Place
  • Environment and Development
  • Geographies of Health and Urban Wellbeing
  • GIS in the Workplace
  • Databases for GIS
  • Managing and Measuring Environmental Impacts
  • River and Shoreline Management
  • Reconstructing Environmental Change
  • Past Climates and Landscapes
  • Cold Environments

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 units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.


Throughout your time with us, we will provide you with the support, enthusiasm and encouragement that you will need to reach your goals. You’ll be taught via a balanced structure of lectures, student-centred seminars, one-to-one tutorials and workshops.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 22% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 78% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 21% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 79% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 12% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 88% studying independently and 0% on work placement


Assessment is a mix of coursework and exams, roughly 60:40 respectively. However, your coursework can take a variety of forms, including:

  • contributions to electronic discussion forums
  • web page design
  • posters
  • projects
  • presentations
  • portfolios

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 50% by written exams, 14% by practical exams and 36% by coursework
  • Year two students: 20% by written exams, 0% by practical exams and 80% by coursework
  • Year three students: 7% by written exams, 8% by practical exams and 85% by coursework

Tutor's view


Professor Liz Twigg

My teaching emphasises the importance of geography in helping us to understand social inequalities in health and other population outcomes. I tend to use my own research within teaching sessions and I strive to ensure your learning is a healthy mix of theoretical and applied material, using of a hands-on approach to ‘doing’ geography whenever possible.

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Facilities & Features

Specialist Software and Equipment

We offer fully equipped physical geography, GIS and photogrammetry labs. Brimming with ultra-modern equipment, you’ll have access to our facilities for project work and interpreting field data. Here’s a taste of what is available to you:

  • laser survey technology
  • photogrammetry equipment
  • an environmental simulation cabinet
  • natural waters and materials testing equipment

Field Trips

Fieldwork is an important part of our courses. From looking at sustainable tourism to natural resource use and heritage conservation, some of our previous trips have included:

  • Berlin
  • Colorado
  • Barcelona
  • Malta
  • The Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Finland
  • Uganda

See more about our field trips on our department website.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
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 to develop.

Other costs to consider

The cost of travel or accommodation for compulsory fieldwork is included in the course fee, but you will be expected to pay for meals and other subsistence costs.

On a sandwich year, you will be expected to pay for travel, accommodation and subsistence associated with placement. These costs will be in the region of £50 - £1000. 

In the final year you may choose optional units which have field trips associated varying between £300 - £2000. Other non-field based options are available at no cost.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

As a geographer you will develop a detailed understanding of the diversity and range of physical and human environments. Increasingly, specialist agencies such as the Environment Agency, survey and mapping companies, local authorities and environmental and economic development consultancies are seeking the skills and abilities that geographers possess.

The communication, numeric and IT skills you will gain also make you a good candidate for business, commerce or education-oriented careers. Alternatively, a significant proportion of graduates choose go on to postgraduate study.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • geographical information scientist
  • environmental consultant
  • spatial analyst
  • coastal process scientist
  • urban planner
  • transport planner

Example of what one of our graduates has gone on to do:

  • Defra, Coastal Process Scientist – coastal surveying

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

As well as many fieldtrips embedded throughout the course, we have exchange links with a number of universities in Europe and beyond, so you can take up the opportunity to study abroad for a few months. Current links include the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain), Universite du Havre, (Le Havre, France) and Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznan, Poland).

Not only will it be a fun and challenging experience, but you will also develop language skills, adaptability, resilience and the ability to communicate with a range of people. These qualities will undoubtedly set you apart to future employers.

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

Matthew Halls, BA (Hons) Geography student 2013

There is a possibility I would like to go into PR having gained a set of skills for a diverse range of jobs. The University’s Purple Door Recruitment service has aided with careers advice.

Matthew Halls, BA (Hons) Geography student 2013

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Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

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