Geography and Sociology
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: email@example.com
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:
If you're interested in social issues and behaviour, then Sociology, which is the study of society, could be the degree for you.
In our fast changing world, Sociology is an exciting and increasingly relevant subject. Sociology at Bath Spa University is taught in an varied, interesting and supportive way by a small enthusiastic team. The Sociology programme will help you understand more about the world around you, give you insights into social problems and debates and also give you important skills that will prepare you for the workplace or postgraduate training.
Sociology is the study of societies, cultures, and groups. We live in complex societies with laws and informal rules that govern how we interact. Sociology helps you to understand more about yourself, others and the way society is organised.
Why study Sociology?
Do you want to know more about the world we live in, do you care about the world and do you want to make a difference?
Sociologists understand social behaviour, social change and how social systems work. Sociology helps you become more informed and to think smarter. If you have an enquiring mind or find it easy to appreciate different points of view, then you will probably find that you have a flair for sociology.
We work hard to provide supportive and flexible learning that can be tailored to your individual needs. We make a large part of our lecture materials available on-line.
As well as learning Sociology you will enhance the skills that you will need when you begin work or start on your career.
In the first year you will be introduced to Sociology as well as to the techniques and philosophies of the social sciences. We focus on the concept of identity and you will learn more about yourself and others. We do not assume that you will have studied Sociology before, (but if you have, you will be able to access learning that is appropriate for you).
The second year builds on the first and allows you to begin to specialise in more specific areas of Sociology such as education, health, crime, work, age and gender. We also provide practical training in research skills – essential for your final year project work and these are the sorts of skills that employers value.
In the final year you can concentrate on an aspect of sociology that most interests you in a dissertation with the support of a member of staff as a supervisor. You can also focus on more detailed subjects such as globalisation, the state, families, the environment or ethnicity and racism.
- Discovering Sociology
- Society, Space and Welfare
- Exploring Childhood
- Sociology: Perspectives and Debates
- Social Science Research Methods
- Criminology and Criminal Justice
- Sociology of Education
- Social Diversity and Social Divisions
- Issues in Mental Health and Illness
- Globalisations: Crises and Opportunities
- Global Work and Organisation
- Ethnic Diversity and Racism in Britain
- Community Engagement
- Sociology of Health and Illness
- Disability - A Life Course Approach
- Religions and Spirituality in Society
Assessment methods vary and include essays, reports, book and article reviews, seen and unseen examinations, portfolios, learning journals, individual and group presentations. You'll never be assessed without our making it clear exactly what we expect and you always know at the start of the year how - and when - you'll be assessed. We work constantly with you to help you improve your performance. As well as learning more about sociology, you will find that the range of assessments are designed to enable you to reflect on your own strengths and abilities. This will be of value in helping you to develop the sort of skills that employers need, for example, professional-standard communication, analysis, evaluating evidence, problem-solving and decision-making.
Sociology at Bath Spa provides plenty of choice within a flexible structure with opportunities to gain a good general grounding in a broad range of social science subjects. This can be an advantage if you’re not quite sure exactly what you want to study.
Sociology is taught by a small, enthusiastic team who will get to know you and be able to provide appropriate support. Students often comment on how much they enjoy studying sociology at Bath Spa, we work hard to foster a friendly atmosphere where everyone can feel welcomed and valued. We use a range of teaching and learning strategies: lectures, classes, workshops, group work and individual study.
The department has a range of resources available to sociology students. We make a large part of our lecture notes and supporting material available on-line and we also have a film club that provides an opportunity to explore issues raised in your learning in a more informal setting.
All full time applications are through UCAS
To contact the department directly, please call Rosemary McKechnie on 0122 587 5599 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
260–300 UCAS Tariff points.
A Sociology degree is useful for any career that involves working with people, either in the private, public or 'third' sectors, typically:
- Management or administration in the public or private sector
- Human resource management or marketing
- Media or journalism
- Social work
- Health education or nursing
- The police
- Penal institutions
- Probation and working with offenders
- Work in the voluntary sector
- Social research
Since 2011, employers such as the National Osteoporosis Society, the Ministry of Defence, Wiltshire Council and Truro College have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including Assistant Education Officer, Student Services Assistant and Relocation Advisor.
What students say...
Graduate profile: Anna Brent, graduated 2004
“I studied Sociology alongside Study of Religions. After a year in recruitment I decided to move into HR to focus on more of the ‘people’ aspect, and got a job as a HR Administrator at KPMG. I am now a HR Business Advisor and continue to work and enjoy my time there.
I look back at my three years at Bath Spa with a smile. There were some turbulent times, financially, meeting deadlines and dealing with the mix of different personalities, but overall the experience made me stronger and prepared me well for the world of work in building relationships, managing my income and helping to organise and prioritise my work. After 10 years I am very proud to say that all the girls I living with in hall of residence we are all still friends and have attended each other’s weddings and see each other at 2–3 times a year. You all hold a special bond with the people you go to university with.”