BA/BSc Geography

UCAS codeF807
Duration3 Years
Typical offerAAB-ABB; IB: 34-32
Location Cornwall (Penryn Campus)


Our groundbreaking BA/BSc Geography programme on the Penryn Campus in Cornwall offers a new, vibrant and fresh approach to studying geography. This innovative undergraduate degree offers a progressive way to examine critical global challenges by exploring both human and physical issues and, importantly, the connections between the two. This contemporary approach to geographical learning provides you with a critical appreciation of 21st century challenges from multiple perspectives.

This programme will broaden your horizons by breaking down the barriers between disciplines to allow you to gain a holistic understanding of the interactions between people, places and events. You will also have the flexibility to engage with specific human and/or physical geography topics as part of your degree.

The programme structure encourages you to pursue the topics that fascinate and capture your imagination. Following a first year of interdisciplinary modules that tackle broad issues, you can tailor your degree by choosing a thematic route through a series of more specialist modules in the second and final years. In essence, this exciting approach combines an all-round training in geography with the flexibility to graduate with either a BA or BSc degree, depending on your choice of optional modules.

Studying at the intimate and welcoming environment of our Penryn Campus, you will benefit from excellent student to staff ratios, small tutorial groups and friendly, accessible and supportive staff. Research undertaken at the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) on the Penryn Campus – a £30 million centre leading cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research into solutions to problems of environmental change and enhancing people’s lives by improving their relationship with the environment – inspires the teaching in Geography.

Cornwall is an exceptional place in which to study issues related to the environment and sustainability: the county is a perfect living laboratory which offers a diverse range of marine and terrestrial habitats, a wealth of natural resources and creative and resilient communities.

The programme is available as a four-year degree with the third year spent studying at a partner university abroad.

Why study Geography at our Penryn Campus?

  • Cornwall is our natural laboratory: we take learning into the field to explore the incredible diversity of cultural, natural and ecological landscapes in the region
  • Enjoy an intimate and welcoming learning environment where you benefit from exceptional student:staff ratios and small class sizes
  • The £30 million Environment and Sustainability Institute is located on the Penryn Campus and further inspires the research and teaching in Geography
  • Learn at the interface of natural sciences, social sciences and humanities with a flexible degree structure which allows you to tailor your study to suit your developing interests
  • Exciting field courses in the UK and abroad
  • Opportunities to use specialist equipment including GIS, remote sensing and digital mapping software, and to develop vocational skills highly sought by employers
  • Outstanding analytical and experimental laboratories for environmental change and process studies, including a high-performance computing facility and dedicated geographical information systems (GIS) suite for geographical modelling and remote sensing. Our facilities are supported by an expert team of laboratory, research and computing technicians
  • The lecturers utilise the environment and landscape for their research, attracting both high-profile academics and like-minded students who are enthusiastic to embrace all that Cornwall has to offer. Geography really aids this with all the local field trips and is especially moulded around the sites in Cornwall which are at its disposal, making the degree practical, exciting and relevant.

    Abi Brady, BSc Geography, Penryn Campus.

Programme structure

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

The following tables describe the programme and constituent modules. Constituent modules may be updated, deleted or replaced as a consequence of the annual programme review of this programme.

You may take optional modules as long as any necessary prerequisites have been satisfied, where the timetable allows and if you have not already taken the module in question or an equivalent module.

You may take up to 30 credits of elective modules outside of the programme in Stages 2 and 3 of the programme as long as you have obtained the explicit permission of the Programme Director, any necessary prerequisites have been satisfied, where the timetable allows and you have not already taken the module in question or an equivalent module.

Year 1

120 credits of compulsory modules

Compulsory modules

GEO1401BApproaches to Geographical Knowledge 15
GEO1405BEarth System Science 15
GEO1406BAnalysis of Environmental Data 15
GEO1407BInvestigating Social and Spatial Environments 15
GEO1408BGlobal Issues in Environmental Science 15
GEO1409BEnvironment and Society 15
GEO1504BTutorials 15
GEO1506BWest Penwith Fieldclass 15

Year 2

30 credits of compulsory modules, 90 credits of optional modules

Compulsory modules

GEO2437Key Skills in Geography 30

Optional modules

ECM2901Mathematics of the Environment II 15
GEO2428BAtmosphere and Ocean Systems 15
GEO2430BNature and Culture 15
GEO2431Natural Hazards and Risk 15
GEO2435Evolution of Human Societies 15
GEO2440Geographical Information Science and Systems 15
GEO2441Remote Sensing for Environmental Management 15
GEO2442The Politics of Climate Change and Energy 15
GEO2443Workplace Learning 15
GEO2444Landscape Evolution 15
GEO2445Rural Social Issues 15
GEO2446Time and Place 15
LAW2016CEnvironmental Regulation and Redress 15

Year 3

75 credits of compulsory modules, 45 credits of optional modules

Compulsory modules

† You must choose one of the two Dissertation modules. To exit with the award BSc (Hons) you must select GEO3439 and to exit with the award of BA (Hons) you must select GEO3438.

* GEO3442 must be taken with either GEO3438 or GEO3439.

GEO3438 BA Dissertation in Geography [† see note above] 40
GEO3439 BSc Dissertation in Geography [† see note above] 40
GEO3442 Preparing to Graduate [*see note above] 5
GEO3 new moduleInternational Field Course 30

Optional modules

GEO3409BEnergy Policies for a Low Carbon Economy 15
GEO3415BIssues in Climate Change 15
GEO3435BEnvironment and Empire 15
GEO3437BClimate Change and Society 15
GEO3446Sustainability 15
GEO3447Waste and Society 15
GEO3448Quaternary Environmental Change 15
GEO3449Volcanic Processes and Environments 15
LAW3016CLegal Response to Environmental Destruction15

Entry requirements 2015

Typical offer

AAB-ABB; IB: 34-32

International students

International students should check details of our English language requirements and may be interested in our Foundation programmes.

Further information

Please read the important information about our Typical offer.

For full and up-to-date information on applying to Exeter and entry requirements, including requirements for other types of qualification, please see the Applying section.

Learning and teaching

At the Penryn Campus in Cornwall you will be welcomed into an intimate and supportive learning environment that encourages enthusiasm and passion for Geography, and promotes interest in the global challenges geographers seek to address. You will benefit from a welcoming atmosphere, excellent student to staff ratios, small group tutorials and friendly, accessible staff. Teaching and learning is through lectures, seminars, tutorials, laboratory classes and field work. We have well equipped laboratories with the latest scientific teaching equipment.

You will be taught by expert, research-active staff who cover a wide range of geography specialisms, including climate change, remote sensing, landscape evolution, popular culture, heritage studies and energy policy. Teaching and research activities emphasise the value of interdisciplinary thinking.

You will have 10-15 hours of direct contact time per week with your tutors and will be expected to supplement your lectures with independent study. You should expect your total workload to average about 40 hours a week during term time.

All students have access to the latest Geographic Information Systems and mapping software. As support for lectures, seminars and tutorials, we make use of video-conferencing and webcasting. We’re actively engaged in introducing new methods of learning and teaching, including increasing use of interactive computer-based approaches to learning through our virtual learning environment, where the details of all modules are stored in an easily navigable website. Students can access detailed information about modules and learning outcomes and interact through activities such as the discussion forums, blogging and virtual field trips.

Academic support

We are committed to providing you with a supportive learning environment in which you can build confidence and mastery of Geography.

All students have a Personal Tutor who is available for advice and support throughout your studies, as well as a group of dedicated first-year tutors whose role is to support your transition to university-level learning. In addition, all students in Geography are represented through Student-Staff liaison committees and can regularly feed back through module and course evaluations. There are also a number of services on campus where you can get advice and information, including the Students' Guild Advice Unit.

As a student on our Penryn Campus you will have the opportunity to participate in a Student Mentoring Scheme in your first year, matching you with a Second or Third Year student who can answer your questions, offer advice and moral support to smooth your transition to University.


  • Examinations account for around 50 per cent of your final mark.
  • Coursework-based assessment accounts for around 50 per cent of your final mark.

Assessment methods will vary depending on your choice of optional modules.

Your progress is monitored through tutorial work and practical assessments. The final degree mark is based on approximately 50 per cent exam-based and 50 per cent coursework-based assessments. The latter include a final year dissertation, which is an independent research project in which you study the topic that excites you most. The modules taken in Year 1 must be passed to progress to Year 2, but the marks obtained do not influence your final degree classification.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my three years studying with the University of Exeter and I believe that Cornwall is an excellent campus with great lecturers who are passionate about their subject and are friendly and approachable. As a town Falmouth is one of the nicest I have ever been to and is a wonderful place to live, with stunning scenery as well as lots to do.

Geography undergraduate student, Penryn Campus.

Study abroad

Students registered on the BA/BSc Geography can apply for a place to study with a number of International Exchange partner universities in the United States and Australia. You can find a complete list of International Exchange partner universities on the International Exeter website (click on the College of Life and Environmental Sciences link).

This International Exchange programme enables you to spend a year abroad in an English speaking international (non-European) university. Whilst abroad you will study approved modules at the host university to the value of 120 credits; these will be credited towards your University of Exeter Geography degree, which you would then complete after four years of study rather than three.

To qualify for application for an International Exchange place and transfer onto the BA/BSc Geography with Study Abroad, we would expect you to have successfully completed your Year 1 studies with an average mark of at least 60 per cent. Places are limited and will be awarded on a competitive basis. All assessments during the year abroad would be undertaken at the host university and would count towards your final degree. Upon return to the University of Exeter, you would then complete your degree in a fourth year (equivalent to the current Year 3 of our BA/BSc Geography programme).

Field work

West Penwith field course video

Exploring West Penwith on the Geography first year fieldclass. View full size.

Field work is an important component of our undergraduate geography degrees. We treat Cornwall as a living laboratory, taking learning into the field to explore the incredible landscapes in the region and beyond. Many modules also include days in the field, and you’ll be encouraged to explore Cornwall’s unique environment in dissertation research and independent coursework.

Field work is one of the keystones of geographical understanding, providing a superb opportunity to put in to practice the skills you learn in the classroom and to develop as a geographer. The residential field courses, in particular, are often described as one of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences for our students.

Throughout your first year, local field trips will provide a comprehensive introduction to physical and human aspects of the local region. Cornwall has an incredible diversity of cultural, ecological and physical landscapes, and the wider region has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a high density of conservation areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It has been recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) containing some of Britain's finest coastal scenery, including Land's End and the Lizard peninsula, and provides a perfect setting for geographical exploration.

In your final year, you will go on a residential field course; for students enrolling in 2015 this will almost certainly be a 10 day trip to Kenya*. This will give you the opportunity to apply your research and practical skills.

Find out more about undergraduate field work.

*Field course destinations may be subject to change.

The fieldtrip was amazing! It allowed you to get a good understanding of a range of environmental management practices within the physical world, which could be used as in depth examples. The trip provided a good grounding in analysis and statistical methods and their limitations in preparation for the dissertation, and there was a good level of work and travelling, as well as free time. In addition, our tutor was really helpful and prepared us well for our dissertation proposal.

Second Year Geography undergraduate


A Geography degree from the University of Exeter will equip you with a wide range of skills suitable for progressing onto further study or employment. The breadth of career opportunities open to geography graduates is vast, with research, planning and management careers in government, the commercial sector and regional councils providing many positions, as well as roles within not-for-profit organisations.

We provide a range of support to help you develop skills attractive to employers. Visit our Careers and Employability web page for more information.

The University of Exeter has an excellent reputation with graduate recruiters and our students and graduates compete very successfully in the employment market. Whatever path you want to follow after graduation, we’re here to help and support you with all your career and employability needs.

Graduate destinations

Below are a few examples of initial jobs undertaken by graduates of University of Exeter Geography undergraduate programmes. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey 2011/12. Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Job titleOrganisation
Graduate Surveyor
Geographic Information Systems Technician
Audit Associate
Trainee Tutor
Sustainability Assistant
Flood Risk Analyst
Climate Change Researcher
Graduate Account Executive
Financial Research Analyst
Affordable Warmth Projects Assistant
Operations Management Graduate Trainee
Immigration Caseworker
Assistant Catastrophe Exposure Analyst
Planning Assistant
Performance and Efficiency Analyst
Recruitment Consultant
Data Analyst
HR Administrator
Marketing Assistant
Thales Business Graduate
Research Consultant
Regen SW
Sanctuary Housing
Thames Water
Field Studies Council
Environment Agency
The Climate Group
Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
Menzies LLP
United Sustainable Energy Agency
Financial Times Ltd
UK Border Agency
South West Water
English Heritage
London Borough Newham Council
Department for Transport
Thales UK
Spencer Ogden
National Trust

Further study

Further study is a popular choice for a number of students following graduation. Below are a few examples of further study undertaken by graduates of University of Exeter Geography undergraduate programmes. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey 2011/12. Please note that, due to data protection, the subjects of study and institutions are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

 Subject areaInstitution
Teacher training
Real estate
Rural surveying
International development
Climate science
Food economics
Energy policy
Oil and gas management
Sustainable development
Surveying and land/environmental management
International relations
Environmental mapping
International management
University of Exeter
Cranfield University
College of Law
Royal Agricultural College
Oxford University
University of East Anglia
Durham University
University of Bristol
The University of Nottingham
University College London
University of Warwick
Lancaster University
University of Reading

Find out more

Further information about the opportunities the University of Exeter offers to maximise our graduates’ employment prospects can be found on the CareerZone website.

During the summer between my second and third year I carried out a six week placement at the Eden Project researching ‘How waste neutral are the Eden Sessions?’ I thoroughly enjoyed the placement because of the friendly team at Eden and the support from my lecturers throughout. It gave me true insight into the environmental world of work and prepared me for my future career options. I also gained confidence in the workplace and in myself, as well as making valuable local contacts in the environmental sector.

Jayne Alexander, Geography undergraduate, Penryn Campus

Contact us

Penryn Campus, Cornwall

Phone: +44 (0)1326 371801

Streatham Campus, Exeter

Phone: +44 (0)1392 725818

Website: Visit the Geography website

How to apply Get a prospectus Visit subject website Print course View all Geography programmes

Climate Change studies within Geography

Academics and students within Geography talking about their studies in relation to climate change, sustainable development and energy policy. View full size.

View our Geography brochure

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Transformational Climate Science conference 2014

In May 2014 we hosted the first gathering of Co-Chairs and authors from all three IPCC working groups with over 500 climate scientists, policy makers, industry professionals, students, and members of the public participated in this exciting event. View full size.