Geography and Heritage
Geography is about places and people. It is about understanding why 'here' differs from 'there', how people's lives vary in these different places, and how our own lives are dependent on people and places, near and far.
Geography is the 'best of both worlds', as it combines the earth and social sciences through exploration of themes including sustainability, development, climate change and geomatics (GIS) methods.
Why study Geography?
Studying Geography expands your understanding of the interactions people have with the environment, both physical and human. An ability to link environmental processes and social and spatial behaviours is a defining feature of geographical practice. As a result, Geography is clearly important in understanding today’s pressing global and local issues from climate change to sustainable development. At Bath Spa you learn geographical concepts, theories and knowledge and also gain skills that can improve your career prospects. Geography graduates are valued by employers for this unique combination.
At Bath Spa, we take an integrated approach to Geography, so you will gain an understanding of both the human and physical aspects of the subject. However, a key feature of our course is that you can specialise more in the physical or in the human side as your interests, abilities and career plans evolve.
The course allows you to do both physical and human Geography or to specialise in one or the other after Year 1.
Fieldwork is an integral part of your learning and underpins our commitment to a relevant, interesting and useful degree. There are various field days during modules, as well as residential fieldwork options in the UK and overseas in Years 2 and 3. You will visit places and landscapes such as Avebury, Mendip, the Somerset Levels, the Welsh National History Museum, the Royal Geographical Society in London, and the Jurassic Coast of Dorset. Residential courses currently go to Spain, the Lake District and Northern India.
A special feature of our course is the opportunity to gain valuable experience, and academic credit, through volunteering in the local community. You can also study abroad for one term, either in a European university or further afield in Australia or the USA.
Your first year (level 4) is centred on a core double module (40 credits) Environment, People and Place. This deals with what makes Geography an exciting, varied and applied subject. The module offers an integrated approach to the study of the geo-social and earth sciences and what makes this module special lies in our attention to developing skills as well as knowledge: you will learn how to use the technologies, methods, techniques and equipment that geographers need to use, with increasing confidence. You will also start to build your employability profile under our guidance. The practical application of subject knowledge is the underlying philosophy of this module.
In addition to the core module we usually offer these options (all 20 credits) from which you can choose one or two:
- Investigating Earth Environments;
- Global Development;
- Visualising Society;
The remainder of level 4 is made up with at least 40 credits from a complementary module of your choice, such as Biology, Sociology, Criminology, or an interdisciplinary module focusing on Sustainability in Life and Work.
Your second year (level 5) also centres on a core double module (40 credits) titled The Enterprising Geographer. The aim here is for you to acquire specialist skills in geographical research methods, human and physical, and to extend your abilities as a team player and as a professional. The Enterprising Geographer puts the subject and the sectors it serves in historical context and highlights the relevance of geographical knowledge to many different professional sectors. Your research skills are developed through two extended research projects where you will apply your growing mastery of your subject to real-world problems and issues. This module also gives you the chance to engage with the Royal Geographical Society and other professional bodies as we begin to help you map out potential career paths. The rest of your studies are optional, and the usual module choices are (you can choose four):
- River and Coastal Systems;
- Climate Change and Sustainability;
- Environmental Hazards;
- Geographical Fieldwork (includes a residential fieldtrip to Northern India);
- Global Cities;
- Criminology and Criminal Justice;
- Work Placement;
All optional modules are 20 credits each.
In your final year (level 6), you take the skills and knowledge perfected throughout the degree to design, conduct and write up your very own geography Dissertation (40 credits). There is a huge variety in choice in what you do for a dissertation and throughout the study you will benefit from one-to-one tuition and expert guidance. The rest of the third year is made up from 20 credit optional modules such as these (you can choose four):
- Coastal and River Management;
- Advanced Geographical Fieldwork (includes a residential fieldtrip);
- Development and Disasters;
- Globalisation and Work;
- Global Mobility, Risks and Environmental Justice;
- Identities and Inequalities;
- Community Engagement (includes a local volunteering placement).
You will experience a variety of different assessment methods throughout your degree. These include essays, industrial project reports, scientific project reports, presentations, posters, field-craft assessments, reflective items, time-constrained tests and examinations. These will give you a rich and diverse skills learning experience, be of real benefit in the search for a good career, and be useful in your professional activities.
Each module will have a different set of assessment items, and not all will include an examination. These assessment items enable you to demonstrate that you have achieved the learning outcomes.
Good teaching is important to us, and our graduates and consistently rate the quality of teaching on the course highly. In our friendly department you will benefit from small classes, specialist expertise, and up-to-date technologies, including ArcGIS, GPS survey instruments, campus river gauging and digital ‘met’ stations. Our rural site is a superb ‘natural laboratory’ where you will learn a range of scientific techniques including field sampling and the use of laboratory instruments for sediment and water analysis. Through your degree you will also develop 'people' skills such as communication, team work and critical thinking - skills that are highly valued by employers.
Geography encourages your learning through a variety of formats: lectures, seminars, team work, laboratories, IT workshops, and in the field - for 'hands on', real life experience.
Our location, nestled in a parkland valley setting just outside Bath, is a beautiful and unique 'natural laboratory' in which to pursue environmental education and we make the most of the setting. We have all the latest technologies and learning resources and Geographers have access to IT laboratories with geographical software such as ArcGIS and Idrisi. In addition there is a comprehensive stock of field and laboratory equipment. Practicals take place in well-equipped science laboratories or out in the grounds of the Newton Park campus. You will find free wireless internet access is available in the Department and across our campus. We subscribe to an extensive range of online journals so you can access the latest geographic research in seconds.
Other resources available include Leica Smart Rovers, handheld Global Positioning System devices, survey seismograph, Russian and standard sediment corers, teaching microscopes, stream flow meters, particle size analysis kits, digital Schmidt hammers, digital weather station, campus stream gauging station, digital dictaphones, digital video cameras and laptops. Do please note that not all field courses are run every year and that all off-campus events and their funding are subject to annual review. Also, module availability may vary over time - if a particular module is of interest and you want to know more, just get in touch with us and we'll be happy to help!
The Department hosts two active research groups covering physical and human geography, ensuring that your teaching is informed by up-to-date, specialised staff expertise. The research groups often inform dissertation ideas for students and you will benefit from our annual Research Seminar Series which includes external guest speakers and is open to all.
All our academic staff are professional geographers who undertake research and scholarship at the cutting edge of their discipline, publishing papers in international journals, textbooks for undergraduate use, and speaking at international conferences, as well as making media appearances. All research undertaken is of direct benefit to students. Indeed, some of our work is about enhancing the learning of geography at university. Students have co-authored papers with members of staff, and some have remained with us to carry out postgraduate research leading to doctorate level.
Teaching quality excellence
We are proud of the quality of our teaching in Geography at Bath Spa. During your degree you will taught by experienced, specialist staff, who undertake research in their specific areas of expertise, as well as into the learning and teaching of different aspects of geography.
Subject tutors regularly attend Professional Development Workshops that inform curriculum development and we regularly attend academic and commercial conferences. We subscribe to industry societies and their journals, such as the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG), the Association for Geographic Information (AGI), the Development Studies Association (DSA), Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society (RSPSoc), American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), the British Cartographic Society (BCS), GIS Professional, GIM International.
All full time applications are through UCAS
Want to know more about studying Geography at Bath Spa? We have Open Days and Visit Days throughout the year. If you can't make any of those, we are also happy to arrange individual visits for you to have a look around at the facilities and ask any questions you may have. You can get in touch using the contact details adjacent. We hope to see you here soon!
Please contact Dr Rebecca Schaaf, Subject Leader for Geography: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a look at our related courses:
260–320 UCAS Tariff points with minimum 80 points from geography or a related subject such as science, sociology, economics.
We welcome applications from mature students with an Access to HE qualification. If you have non-standard qualifications we will consider any prior learning and professional experience in your application.
Our graduates possess a diverse range of skills, knowledge and expertise, suitable for many careers and occupations. This is due to the great appeal of your geographical skill-set to employers. Environmental bodies, utilities, planning, police and armed forces, retail and financial services, heritage management, local government and school teaching are typical destinations. Many geography graduates are hooked on the subject and undertake further study, including doctoral research here in the department.
The opportunity to undertake a work placement as part of your degree is an excellent way of gaining some experience in the workplace, while guest speakers from industry contribute to your learning experience throughout the course. This engagement with potential employers will stand you in good stead for making those all-important career decisions when you move into the world of work.
Since 2010, employers such as Geomatics Group, At-Bristol, Discover Battle, Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre and The Ministry of Defence have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including Assistant Geomatics Surveyor, Renewables Developer, Business Analyst, Oceaneer and Press Officer.
What students say...
Tim Johns, Geography, graduated July 2012:
“I thoroughly enjoyed my course at Bath Spa University and would recommend it to anyone interested in pursuing a career in the environmental industry. Academically, the course was fantastic and offered the opportunity to learn a diverse range of skills that would equip anyone with the necessary attributes to enter the world of work, or pursue postgraduate studies. At Bath Spa my learning was not just restricted to the classroom; I had the opportunity to undertake a live Dissertation project working in conjunction with the Environment Agency. This was an invaluable experience giving me the opportunity to work with industry professionals. My advice to those starting their studies would be to take full advantage of the facilities Bath Spa has to offer, including the excellent support from staff and tutors. Just remember from the offset… you have to work hard to play hard and all things are achievable no matter what!”
We take the views of our students very seriously, and evaluations of each module are undertaken each year, incorporating feedback from all students. You will also have the opportunity to represent your peers at committee and board meetings that meet regularly to discuss the shape and evolution of your course.
Please look at the video clips to see what our students have said about studying Geography at Bath Spa University.
Alice - second year Geography student
Read about the activities and achievements of our students and staff in our annual Geography Newsletter:
Heritage at Bath Spa University - where the past shapes the future.
From the local to the global, we offer you an intellectually challenging course grounded in practical experience.
Why study Heritage?
"Heritage is not a luxury or a pleasant recreational past-time, but an integral part of our future"
(Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund)
Our collaboration with museums, galleries and heritage sites in Bath and the local region has created an exciting course that offers you the unique opportunity to be taught by heritage sector professionals and by academics who research and write about heritage and public history.
The City of Bath, a city of international historical and cultural significance, was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. It attracts over four million visitors a year and plays a major role in an industry that contributes billions to the UK economy. It is also a city that provides the perfect backdrop for exploring the meaning and uses of heritage in the past and now, and for considering the issues and debates that will shape our engagement with heritage in the future.
We live our lives in the midst of the historic buildings, landscapes, and material objects of our past. But heritage is about more than just physical remains – it is about people’s memories, how they make sense of their past and how they understand their culture. Heritage is crucial to building our sense of identity – as an individual, as part of a community, as a nation, and as a part of the wider world.
Studying Heritage at Bath Spa University challenges you to put the past into a range of perspectives in order to discover how it shapes the future. You will graduate from this course with a thorough understanding of heritage as a subject, and with practical knowledge and experience of how heritage works in the real world.
You will take Heritage with another subject as part of a Combined Award.
Heritage at Bath Spa University is designed to complement a select number of other subject so you graduate with a solid academic and research foundation combined with specific knowledge about, and practical experience in, the heritage sector and in other cultural and creative industries.
Heritage is available in combination with:
- Media & Communications
- Business & Management
In each year you will take a core module and an option module in Heritage, and a range of modules from your other subject.
- Heritage and Public History (core module)
- The Business of Heritage
- Heritage in Practice (core module)
- Heritage in Context
- Heritage Placement and Project (core module)
- Heritage at Work [summer work-placement module between second and third year]
- Public History, Cultural Heritage and Global Politics
We use a range of different assessments to help you understand heritage as an academic discipline, and to develop a range of practical and professional skills.
Assessment types include: formal examinations; written essays; industry reports; market research assignments; mock project applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund; group projects and presentations; the creation of public heritage material ranging from websites, apps, learning resources, to exhibitions and events.
We believe strongly in making sure your hard work is reward, and that credit is given for the full range of work you will do on the course. Work-based learning, work experience, placement opportunities, and real word projects all form part of your formal assessment in Heritage.
Heritage at Bath Spa University introduces you to the concepts and realities of heritage through lectures, seminars, workshops, field trips to heritage sites, as well as through real-life heritage projects and work placements. You will graduate from this course with a thorough understanding of the complex relationships between heritage, history, culture, education and learning, audience development and interpretation, conservation, and tourism.
The course uses the rich historic environment of the three Bath Spa University campuses, the City of Bath World Heritage Site, and Bath, Bristol and the South West's extensive collection of museums, galleries and heritage sites as places to learn in and to learn from.
On this course you are taught by academics who are experts in heritage and public history, but you are also taught by - and work closely with - professionals who work in heritage and in a range of creative and cultural industries regionally and nationally.
In addition to project-based work experience and dedicated work placements within the context of specific modules, you will also have enhanced volunteering opportunities at the range of heritage sites and museums in the local area – volunteer experience is increasingly vital, no matter what you want to do after university.
Students taking Heritage at Bath Spa University have volunteered with, held placements with, and been involved in public projects with just some of the following:
- Roman Baths
- Fashion Museum
- Holburne Museum
- Museum of Bath at Work
- No 1 Royal Crescent
- Victoria Art Gallery
- Bath Abbey
- American Museum
- Radstock Museum
- SS Great Britain
- National Railway Museum (York)
- RAF Museum (Hendon)
- Bletchley Park (Milton Keynes)
- Fishbourne Roman Palace (Sussex)
- Bath & North East Somerset Council Heritage Services
- Bath Preservation Trust
- Bath Record Office
- Churches Conservation TrustWiltshire & Swindon History
- National Trust
- English Heritage
The opportunities offered to you studying Heritage at Bath Spa University provide you with invaluable hands-on work experience throughout your degree, and help you make important contacts for your future beyond graduation.
All full time applications are through UCAS.
You will need to study another subject to study with Heritage.
For further information please contact Dr. Kristin G Doern (Heritage Subject Leader) at:
Telephone: 01225 876248.
260–300 UCAS Tariff points.
Heritage at Bath Spa University prepares you for a variety of future careers both within the heritage sector and creative and cultural industries, and beyond.
In addition to acquiring knowledge and understanding of heritage and public history, and gaining practical experience in a range of heritage contexts, on this course you will develop skills that are highly valued in a diverse range of careers.
- You will have developed strong research skills, as well as skills in analysis and interpretation.
- You will have had opportunities to work as a team as well as develop leadership skills.
- You will be intellectually flexible and know how to problem solve.
- You will have good time management and project management skills.
And you will have had invaluable experience communicating with and working in collaboration with public organisations and professionals in heritage and in a range of creative and cultural industries regionally and nationally.
The emphasis throughout the course on experiential learning, student-led ‘real world’ projects, placements and volunteering enables you to demonstrate to potential employers that you have the necessary skills, experience and perhaps most crucially, determination to persevere in your chosen career no matter what the circumstances.
% going on to work and/or study for courses in this subject area: 80%
What students say...
'There were so many avenues that I could have gone down after finishing university, but the vocational element of the Heritage course helped me work out what I really wanted to do. As a direct result of studying Heritage and History at Bath Spa University I have decided to go on to an MSc in Architectural Conservation. The course let me explore the different ways my degree could be applied in industry and a great benefit from studying Heritage at BSU has been the invaluable volunteering experience I now have on my CV.'
Tristan Faith (Heritage/History Combined BA Graduate 2012)
'Studying Heritage and History at BSU gave me opportunities to work and volunteer in the heritage sector in a range of roles. This has given me the relevant skills to further my education and career in heritage and I am so excited to be going on to postgraduate study in Cultural Heritage Management. The heritage side of my degree helped put the theoretical side of history research into practice. The skills I gained in my placement at the Holborne Museum helped me get the internship I now have at the National Portrait Gallery, an opportunity I wouldn't have dreamed about until I took heritage at BSU.'
Abigail Fisher (Heritage/History Combined BA Graduate 2012)
'At six o’clock the launch party for our ‘Legacy of Icons’ exhibition at the American Museum began, and the room was filled with family, friends, dignitaries and invited guests. We were able to really appreciate what we have achieved. Seen as a whole, the exhibition becomes something else, and much more than the sum of its parts. I’m impressed with what we’ve done. After a very successful week-long exhibition that saw over 900 people go through the doors, we present our final post-project evaluation. Everyone spoke with confidence, armed with the knowledge that we had built something special together which had been carried through with success. The whole experience has built my confidence and shown me new possibilities for the future. I used all my previously acquired skills and knowledge gained, and know now that this kind of practical, hands on project is something that I can embrace fully.'
Kate James (History BA Graduate 2011 – currently taking the new BSU Masters in Heritage Management)
'Taking the heritage modules at BSU helped me gain a four month education internship at Brooklands Museum right after graduation. This is because the heritage project demonstrated that I could work with a team, work within a deadline and communicate with others. The internship let me build on this experience and enabled me to gain further valuable experience with in the heritage industry. Both contributed enormously towards getting my new job as a Visitor Services Assistant at The Roman Baths.'
Karen Lockyear (History BA Graduate 2010 – now employed at the Roman Baths)
The heritage module I took as part of my History degree proved to be incredibly important and its practicalities far reaching. I am currently pursuing a career in Archives and Records Management, and although awareness of heritage is not essential, my experience at BSU helped me get my current job as Archives and Records Management Assistant at Unilever. The module complimented my paid work as a tour guide and my voluntary placements in archives while I was at university. I have also been able to use my knowledge of outreach programmes as an effective talking point during interviews and my experience of writing for a non-academic audience and building a website have become valuable skills.
Rachael Thompson (History BA Graduate 2010 – employed by Unilever Archives immediately after graduation, then accepted onto the UCL Archives and Record Managements MA)