Physical Geography degree – BSc (Hons) – Bath Spa University Skip to main content

Geography (Physical)

BSc (Hons)

Undergraduate degree - single honours

Award
BSc (Hons) Geography (Physical)
School/s
School of Sciences
Campus or location
Newton Park
Course length
Three years full time, or four years full time with professional placement year. Part time available.
UCAS codes
Institution Code: B20
Course Code: FF80 or FF81
Campus Code: A,BSU

Entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry to our undergraduate programmes. The main ones are listed under 'Typical offers' in the main column below. For combined courses, please check both subjects. If your qualification is not listed, please email admissions@bathspa.ac.uk with your specific details.

Our Physical Geography degree asks you to explore environmental processes and rise to the challenge of managing them.

  • Choose from a range of modules to explore themes such as geomorphology and environmental hazards, river management, geotechnologies, and environmental practice.
  • Gain field experience in destinations such as India, Spain and the English Lake District, as well as on our campus in Bath and across the south west region.
  • Accredited by the Royal Geographical Society, our Physical Geography course prepares you to address the needs of the world beyond university.

Our Physical Geography degree develops your specialist knowledge in physical geography and environmental management, while also giving you a good understanding of the socio-economic impacts of environmental processes in order to prepare for careers in applied geographical practice.

Through workshops, laboratory practicals and fieldwork, you’ll study themes including environmental hazards, geomorphology, disaster risk reduction, river management, geotechnologies, climate and society, environmental management, environmental practice and science journalism and publishing.

You’ll be part of our supportive Geography community, benefiting from small class sizes, specialist staff expertise and up-to-date technologies, and you’ll be taught by our team of expert lecturers who are engaged in international networks and world-leading research. You'll graduate equipped with skills highly sought by employers, including research, communication, data management and analysis, problem solving, team work, mapping and spatial data processing.

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Geography graduate

What you'll learn

Overview

Our Physical Geography degree provides a specialist physical geography pathway through our Geography programme, enabling you to focus on physical geography, environmental management, and the social and policy implications of complex environmental processes.

You’ll be able to select optional modules in your second and third years, allowing you to tailor your studies to your interests and career aspirations. You’ll have the chance to experience international field trips and a work placement, helping you to develop practical transferable skills that are applicable to a variety of careers.

Course structure

Year one
Your first year provides a foundation in basic principles in both human and physical geography – this provides insights from both science and social science perspectives and gives you the tools to understand complex global challenges. You’ll apply these principles to a range of environmental processes and environmental management challenges as well as through a residential field trip module.

Year two
In your second year, you’ll build more specialist knowledge and skills. Your core studies will develop your understanding of the discipline of geography as well as scientific research methods, and you’ll enhance your knowledge of geomorphology, environmental hazards and geotechnologies.

You’ll have a choice of optional modules, allowing you to begin to specialise in topics such as climate and society, environmental management or science journalism and publishing. You’ll also start to plan for your career options, with an opportunity to undertake a work placement module.

The optional field trip to the Indian Himalayas offers a unique opportunity to explore physical geography processes and their management in a highly dynamic real-world context. On this trip, you’ll examine a range of environmental hazards such as soil erosion, flooding, landslides and air pollution, as well as community disaster resilience. Please note that some of our field trips may incur an additional expense on top of your course fees.

You can choose to undertake a Professional Placement Year between your second and final years.

Year three
You’ll complete a final year independent research project, allowing you to demonstrate the academic and transferable skills you’ve acquired on the course.

You’ll study a range of required and optional modules that give you the opportunity to specialise in topics such as river management, disaster risk reduction and environmental practice.

On an optional field trip to Barcelona you’ll explore physical geography processes and environmental management in a dynamic urban and peri-urban context. Potential field trip themes include wildfires and cascading hazards, coastal erosion and beach management, heat waves and urban flash flood risks.

How will I be assessed?

You’ll be assessed through a variety of methods including essays, project reports, presentations, posters, video clips, field assessments, reflective items and time-constrained tests and examinations. These will give you a rich and diverse skill set, designed to be of real benefit in pursuit of your career goals.

How will I be taught?

You’ll be taught in lectures, laboratory practicals, workshops and seminars, with small groups that enable discussion and collaborative learning. You’ll learn in the classroom, lab and outdoors, with fieldwork on campus and at locations across the UK and overseas.

To find out more about how we teach and how you'll learn, please read our Learning and Teaching Delivery Statement.

Course modules

This course offers or includes the following modules. The modules you take will depend on your pathway or course combination (if applicable) as well as any optional or open modules chosen. Please check the programme document for more information.

Year one (Level 4) modules
  • Environment, People and Place
  • Geographical Skills
  • Introduction to Geographical Fieldwork
  • Global Development
  • Communicating Science
  • Sustainability in Life and Work
Year two (Level 5) modules
  • Contested Geographies: Histories and Debates
  • Geographical Research Methods
  • Geomorphology and Environmental Hazards
  • Climate and Society
  • Geographical Fieldwork
  • Geotechnologies for Society and Environment
  • Environmental Management
  • Science Journalism and Publishing
  • Work Placement
  • Professional Placement Year
Year three (Level 6) modules
  • Physical Geography Dissertation
  • Advanced Geographical Fieldwork
  • Culture, Risk and Environmental Justice
  • Community Engagement
  • River Management
  • Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Environmental Practice

Opportunities

Study abroad

You’ll have the opportunity to study in a wide range of locations around the world. Our students have completed exchange programmes in a variety of countries including Spain, Sweden and the USA.

Fieldwork

Fieldwork is an integral part of our Geography programme as it provides you with the opportunities to learn hands-on geographical skills with real world applications.

Residential fieldwork is a required component of our first year programme while there are further optional residential field trip opportunities in both the second and third year. Our current residential field trip destinations are the English Lake District (first year), Northern India (second year) and Barcelona (third year).

Within modules you will also undertake fieldwork in the local area including on our beautiful Newton Park campus, as well as in locations such as the Mendip Hills, the Somerset Levels, the Royal Geographical Society in London and the Jurassic Coast of Dorset.

Please note that you will have to make a financial contribution towards residential field trips.

Work placements, industry links and internships

You’ll have the opportunity to undertake a work placement in your second year and a community engagement placement in your final year, as well as the option to undertake a professional placement year between your second and final year. Students have worked with local planning authorities, environmental organisations and the National Trust.

Guest speakers from industry and previous graduates contribute to the learning experience throughout the course. This insightful engagement with potential employers will help you make those all-important career decisions when you graduate.

Competitions and awards

There are prizes awarded each year in recognition of excellence in the core modules. This culminates with the Geography Project of the Year Award, for the best dissertation.

Careers

You’ll graduate from this degree prepared for a diverse range of careers in sectors such as research, consultancy, surveying, geographical information systems, government or non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The course also provides you with the knowledge and skills needed to progress to postgraduate study in a wide range of fields. Our graduates have undertaken postgraduate study in fields such as disaster management, climate change adaptation and environmental management.

Whatever your aspirations, our aim is that the real-world experience you gain on this course will set you up to take on diverse challenges, and to thrive in doing so.

Professional placement year

Overview

This optional placement year provides you with the opportunity to identify, apply for and secure professional experience, normally comprising one to three placements over a minimum of nine months. Successful completion of this module will demonstrate your ability to secure and sustain graduate-level employment.

By completing the module, you'll be entitled to the addition of 'with Professional Placement Year' to your degree title.

Preparation

Before your Professional Placement Year, you'll work to secure your placement, constructing a development plan with your module leader and your placement coordinator from our Careers and Employability team.

How will I be assessed?

On your return to University for your final year, you'll submit your Placement Portfolio, detailing your development on your placement.

Facilities and resources

Where the subject is taught

You’ll be taught using our specialist facilities on our Newton Park campus in Bath as well as at field sites around the South West region and overseas.

  • Lectures, seminars and workshops
    Teaching takes place in lecture and seminar rooms on our beautiful Newton Park campus including in the Commons building.
  • Laboratories
    We have a number of well-equipped and recently refurbished laboratories dedicated to a variety of analytical applications spanning audio-visual data, soils/water/air and microfossils, to name a few.
  • On-campus fieldwork
    Our location at Newton Park, nestled in a parkland valley setting just outside Bath, is a beautiful and unique 'natural laboratory' in which to pursue environmental education. Make the most of this setting by studying environmental processes on-site including at our stream gauging station and instrumented landslide complex.
  • Off-campus field sites
    Day trips provide real-world learning opportunities in locations such as the Mendip Hills, the Somerset Levels, the Royal Geographical Society in London and the Jurassic Coast of Dorset. Optional international field trips provide the chance to visit India and Spain.
  • Online research lecture series
    Participate in the online research lecture series organised by our Hazard, Risk and Disaster Research Group. This series provides an opportunity to engage with leading research from all over the world specialising in topics such as natural hazards, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
  • Library
  • Commons building
  • Virtual Learning Environment
  • Specialist resources and dedicated Subject Librarian
  • Writing and Learning Centre
  • English Language Unit.
Resources

You’ll benefit from our excellent resources including laboratories, stock apparatus, field tools, and a suite of IT hardware/software, all supported by a highly-skilled team of technicians. Our key areas of capability are:

  • Monitoring of environmental parameters including noise, light, air/gas, pH, particulates, water, metals, and volatiles; using dissolved oxygen and conductivity probes, flow meters, an atomic absorption spectrometer, a gas chromatogram, and a scanning spectrophotometer.
  • Hydro-meteorological monitoring including Automatic Weather Stations, temperature/humidity loggers, anemometers, infiltrometers, and dip meters.
  • Survey and analysis. Hardware comprising Total Stations, Terrestrial Laser Scanner (TLS), differential and handheld GPS and UAV. Software including ArcGIS Pro and Nvivo.
  • Microfossil analysis using type collections and microscopes.
  • Soil/sediment analysis using furnaces/ovens, particle size sieving, soil augers/corers.

Fees

Please note: Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland are not generally eligible for the UK (Home) fee status. Please refer to the international student rate. Irish citizens and those granted Settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme are eligible for UK (Home) fee status. There are also other circumstances where this may apply: See UKCISA for more information.

UK students full time

2022/23 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 £9,250
Year 2 Published Jan 2023
Year 3 Published Jan 2024

2023/24 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 Published Jan 2023
Year 2 Published Jan 2024
Year 3 Published Jan 2025

2024/25 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 Published Jan 2024
Year 2 Published Jan 2025
Year 3 Published Jan 2026
UK students part time

2022/23 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 £4,625
Year 2 Published Jan 2023
Year 3 Published Jan 2024

2023/24 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 Published Jan 2023
Year 2 Published Jan 2024
Year 3 Published Jan 2025

2024/25 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 Published Jan 2024
Year 2 Published Jan 2025
Year 3 Published Jan 2026
International students full time

2022/23 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 £14,400
Year 2 Published Jan 2023
Year 3 Published Jan 2024

2023/24 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 Published Jan 2023
Year 2 Published Jan 2024
Year 3 Published Jan 2025

2024/25 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 Published Jan 2024
Year 2 Published Jan 2025
Year 3 Published Jan 2026
All students full time - with professional placement year

During the placement year, the fee is reduced to 20% of the full time fee. Otherwise, fees are the same as for full time study. This applies to UK, EU and International students.

Interested in applying?

What we look for in potential students

We’re looking for enthusiastic and motivated students who are interested in understanding complex environmental processes and in developing the skills needed to manage them. We accept a broad range of traditional qualifications and less conventional routes into education – we welcome students from a wide range of backgrounds.

Typical offers

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry to our undergraduate programmes. The main ones are listed below:

  • A Level - grades BBB-BCC or above preferred including a Grade B in Geography, Sociology, Economics or Science.
  • BTEC – Extended Diploma grades from Distinction Distinction Merit (DDM) to Distinction Merit Merit (DMM) in a related subject, preferably Social Sciences.
  • T Levels – grade Merit preferred in a relevant subject.
  • International Baccalaureate - a minimum of 28 points are required including Grade 5 in Geography, Sociology, Economics or Science at Higher Level.
  • Access to HE courses – typical offers for applicants with Access to HE will be the Access to HE Diploma or Access to HE Certificate (60 credits, 45 of which must be Level 3, at Merit or higher) in a related subject.

English Language Requirements for International and EU Applicants

IELTS 6.0 - for visa nationals, with a minimum score of IELTS 5.5 in each element.

Course enquiries

For further information about the programme or entry requirements, please email us at admissions@bathspa.ac.uk.

How do I apply?

Ready to apply? Click the 'apply now' button in the centre of this page.

Need more guidance? Head to our how to apply pages.

Course contact: Dr David Simm
Email: d.simm@bathspa.ac.uk

Three year course
With placement year

Website feedback to web@bathspa.ac.uk