Geography

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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.

Course structure

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 lanscapes 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 participate in a European university exchange for one term.

 

Modules

Year 1

Your first year (level 4) is centred on a core double module (40 credits) Foundations in Geography. This deals with what makes Geography an exciting, varied and applied subject. Foundations 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 commence 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;
  • Society, Space and Welfare;

The remainder of level 4 is made up with at least 40 credits from a complementary module of your choice, such as Biology, Sociology, Business and Management, or an interdisciplinary module focusing on Sustainability in Life and Work.

Year 2

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 Spain or Northern India);
  • Global Cities;
  • Criminology and Criminal Justice;
  • Work Placement;

All optional modules are 20 credits each.

Year 3

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):

  • Climatology;
  • Coastal and River Management;
  • Advanced Geographical Fieldwork (includes a residential fieldtrip);
  • Development and Disasters;
  • Globalisation and Work;
  • Identities and Inequalities;
  • Community Engagement (includes a local volunteering placement).

Course assessment

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.

Teaching methods

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!

 

Departmental Research

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.

Application method

All full time applications are through UCAS

International students should visit our international pages for more information about our entry requirements, fees and scholarships, and student support.

Course enquiries

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: r.schaaf@bathspa.ac.uk 

 

Typical offer range for UK / EU applicants

260–300 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.

Career opportunities

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:

Geography 2013

Geography 2014