BSc (Hons)

Physical Geography

Understanding the changeable physical environment

F840UCAS code 3yrsfull time 1yrplacement option

Star Course Overview

Why take this course?

Environmental change and the physical processes that affect the natural world increasingly impact on our everyday lives.

This course will provide a solid understanding of the global environment and how problems relating to it prompt us to develop ways to manage and conserve the world around us. We also have a hands-on approach to geography through regular lab sessions and practical fieldwork.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Engage in the real world through fieldwork and study some of the most pressing environmental issues such as global warming
  • Get a distinct flavour of some of the landscapes you may be studying with regular field trips
  • Go abroad to study through one of our exchange links with universities in Spain, France and Poland

What opportunities might it lead to?

With your geographical skills and knowledge, alongside the transferable skills you’ll gain on this course, there’ll be lots of public and private sector roles open to you upon graduation.

You’ll be able to aim for a wide range of careers, including those in environmental and business management, the public service (including health authorities), local authorities 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

I went to Northern Finland on a fieldtrip where we stayed above the Arctic Circle, saw the Northern Lights and undertook research into climate change.

Eloise Kate Marner, BSc (Hons) Physical Geography student 2015

Open Days

Find out more and book your place

Key Facts

UCAS Course Code:
3 years full time, 4 years sandwich with work placement
The UCAS tariff for 2017 entry has changed. See how this affects your tariff score A LEVELS
120 points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent. See full entry requirements

We accept UCAS points from other qualifications. See full details and English Language qualifications

UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
2016/17 entry: full time: £9,000 p/a*
2017/18 entry: full time: £9,250 p/a*

International students
2016/17 entry: full time: £12,000 p/a**
2017/18 entry: full time: £12,600 p/a**

*Tuition fee may be subject to annual increase.
**Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.

View tuition fee terms and conditions
View additional course costs

+44 (0)23 9284 5550
Department of Geography
Programme specification



Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • Fieldtrips in the UK and abroad providing invaluable practical skills
  • The open-door approach of the lecturers, many of whom have industry experience
  • Superb careers advice and support that is part of your course

Browse all courses in Earth and Environmental Sciences

Back To Top

Light bulb Structure & Teaching

Year one

In the first year of your studies, you will be introduced to the breadth of physical geography including environmental systems, environmental change and management.

Core units in this year include:

  • Applied Physical Geography
  • Environmental Systems and Change
  • Geography, Skills and Prospects
  • Introduction to Geographical Information Systems
  • Population Resources and the Environment
  • Practical Skills for Physical Geography

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 include:

  • Applied Spatial Data Analysis
  • Environmental and Climate Change: Practice
  • Environmental and Climate Change: Theory
  • Environmental Hazards: Concepts and Monitoring
  • Sustainable Environment Management
  • Environmental and Assessment and Management
  • Geomorphology: Theory
  • Geomorphology: Practice

Year three

Specialise further in your final year by choosing from a selection of optional units. A number of these will involve the real-world application of physical geography through advanced field work, giving you great first-hand experience of the environments you may be studying.

Core units in this year include:

  • Independent study

Options to choose from in this year include:

  • Applied Geomorphology
  • GIS in the Workplace
  • Cold Environments
  • Reconstructing Environmental Change
  • Coastal Recreation: Environment, Development & Management
  • The Quaternary

Teaching and Assessment

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.

How are you assessed?

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
Dr Nick Pepin

Tutor's view

Dr Nick Pepin

My courses include a range of teaching styles, from lectures covering weather and climate theory, to practical work in weather observation and weather map interpretation. In the past we’ve had optional field trips to the Colorado Rockies and Scotland to study mountain climates, plus a trip to Finnish Lapland for fieldwork on snow/ice.

Back To Top

Monitor 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 soil study to studying mountain climates, some of our previous trips have included:

  • Spain
  • Malta
  • Cyprus
  • Poland
  • Scotland
  • The Netherlands

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.

Rebecca Munton, BSc (Hons) Physical Geography student 2013

One of the best things about studying Geography at Portsmouth is the trips. In my second year I got to go to Arctic Finland and then in my third year I got the opportunity to go to Colorado.

Rebecca Munton, BSc (Hons) Physical Geography student 2013

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.

Back To Top

Mortarboard Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Where next?
Where next?

As a geographer you will develop a detailed understanding of the diversity and range of the physical environment which is central to our immediate and long-term wellbeing. 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. A significant proportion of graduates also 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

Work experience

Employment boosting opportunities
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 skills in languages, adaptability, resilience and the ability to communicate with a range of people. These qualities will undoubtedly stand you apart to future employers.

Career planning

Career planning
Career planning
6.04 minutes

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.

Back To Top

Visit us

Our next Open Day is Saturday 22 October, 2016

Book now

Application, Fees and Funding — find out more

Similar courses to BSc (Hons) Physical Geography

Back To Top