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School of Environment, Education and Development

Geography students in a lab
BSc Geography

Study a course tailored to you at the university ranked fourth in the UK for Geography (Guardian University Guide).

BSc Geography / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course description

Manchester is the ideal place to study Geography. The world's first industrial city and a vibrant twenty-first century metropolis set between three National Parks, Manchester and its environment are an important resource for field teaching in all three years of your degree.

Geography has been taught at The University of Manchester for more than 125 years. We have a vibrant community of students and academic staff, with a wide range of teaching and research interests and an impressive international research reputation.

We give you maximum choice to tailor your degree by choosing the course units that best suit your interests and preferred assessment methods. You can truly showcase your skills and abilities by selecting course units from both:

  • Physical geography,  the study of the natural processes of the earth, and the preferred discipline for students predominately interested in ecology, hydrology, palaeo environments, geoarchaeology, glaciology, climatology and geomorphology.
  • Human geography,  the study of human behaviour and impact on the earth, and the preferred discipline for students predominately interested in economic, cultural, political, urban and historical geography.

Whether you select BA Geography or BSc Geography, you can study a mixture of both physical and human geography modules. Both are covered in the first year, and you can swap from the BA to the BSc or vice-versa if you find your interests take you in a new direction.

Special features

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Geography at The University of Manchester: Field trip to the Pyrenees, Spain

Manchester is a vibrant, student-friendly city surrounded by three spectacular national parks, so you'll get plenty of opportunities to get out of the classroom on fieldwork.

Pre-course field trip

As far as we know, we are the only university in the UK to run a pre-course field trip for its new geography students. It takes place in Keswick, the Lake District, over three days in the week before Welcome Week in September.

The residential trip is a great opportunity to get to know your fellow students and future tutors. As the trip has been running for almost 50 years, it's become a bit of a tradition among Manchester geographers. Our students tell us that the friends they make on this field trip stay with them throughout the course and beyond.

Other field trips

  • First year   - You'll undertake fieldwork in Manchester. 
  • Second year   - You'll travel overseas for fieldwork as well as undertake local area trips related to course units. Potential destinations include Crete, Cuba, Donegal, New York, Iceland, Amsterdam, Morocco, the Pyrenees, the Czech Republic and Hong Kong.
  • Third year   - Most units include fieldwork, such as trips to coastal areas in the North West of England.

Additional course information

Manchester University Geographical Society (MUGS)

MUGS is a society run by geography students for geography students.

MUGS is your point of contact for anything from places to hang out in Manchester, to the location of your first lecture, tutorial or seminar. It organises many cheap social events throughout the year where students mix with other year groups - invaluable when it comes choosing your course units for the next semester.

The society offers a large range of discount wristbands and VIP entry during socials, which makes being a member truly worthwhile. The highlight of the social calendar is without doubt the end of year ball, or GloBall as it has been named.

On the academic side, there are guest lecturers, seminars and debates throughout the year; a great source of knowledge when it comes to essay writing or exam preparation.

Teaching and learning

Our teaching and learning strategy is designed to provide you with a stimulating and challenging set of experiences that will help you to develop a wide range of intellectual, subject-specific and transferable skills whilst studying a dynamic and broad-ranging subject.

We develop your ability to think critically, analytically and creatively. You learn about contemporary issues and problems, to which much of our research relates, in ways that help you discuss and develop your own views on current societal and environmental debates.

In developing an understanding of these issues and problems, you acquire a set of subject-specific skills, associated with, for example, geographical representation (Geographical Information Systems, Remote Sensing, Visualisation) and field and laboratory analyses.

Coursework and assessment

Our assessment strategy is devised to present you with the opportunity to demonstrate the full range of your abilities and skills, and promote in-depth learning and understanding.

There is, therefore, a mix of assessment types in all three years that reflect the variety of abilities and skills that you develop and acquire as you proceed through your course, including:

  • a dissertation
  • essays
  • individual and team projects
  • coursework
  • posters
  • presentations
  • practicals
  • field notebooks
  • unseen written examination papers (essay answers and multiple choice).

The mix of assessment types is to help you in a number of ways:

  • Some of them are to allow fuller coverage of, and feedback on, knowledge and understanding.
  • Some are devised to allow rapid feedback.
  • Others are to promote the development of argument (eg tutorial and course work essays or the skills of teamwork)
  • Some test the extent to which you can carry out work independently, such as coursework essays and the dissertation. 

Second-year work currently contributes 25% of the course, with third-year contributing 75%.

Course content for year 1

Compulsory course units in both human and physical geography will provide you with a basic knowledge of key subject areas, and establish basic principles, concepts and skills upon which your second and third-year course units build. Core units cover three themes:

  • Human Geography  - Changing political, economic, environmental, social and cultural geographies.
  • Physical Geography  - Climate and earth surface systems, including pollution and resource exploitation.
  • Researching Manchester  - Research skills used in human and physical geography to explore the local and global significance of Manchester.

Beside the compulsory modules, you may then choose to take a further two units in geography or take 'free choice' subjects outside of Geography.

In addition to lectures, you will have tutorials, undertake skills-based activities and complete team projects.

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Key Ideas in Geography GEOG10191 10 Mandatory
Introducing Human Geographies 1 GEOG10251 10 Mandatory
Researching Manchester GEOG10292 10 Mandatory
Environmental Processes and Change: The Global System GEOG10401 10 Mandatory
Dynamic Earth GEOG10422 10 Mandatory
Introducing Human Geographies 2 GEOG10432 10 Mandatory
Tutorials and Book Review GEOG12011 10 Mandatory
Tutorials and Profile of a Research Geographer GEOG12012 10 Mandatory
Geographies of Globalisation GEOG10101 10 Optional
Environmental Pollution GEOG10161 10 Optional
Environment, Society and Space GEOG10172 10 Optional
River Catchment Science & Management GEOG10712 10 Optional
Displaying 10 of 12 course units for year 1

Course content for year 2

In year two, lectures develop the themes established in the first year but introduce you to wider aspects of the subject. Throughout the year, you will:

  • expand on themes from the first year whilst pursuing your preferred subjects through optional units
  • develop transferable and professional skills critical for your future employability
  • undertake practical training in real-world geographical skills such as environmental monitoring, data archives, ethnography and statistics.

Lecture course units consist of two sessions every week, divided into a two-hour and a one-hour session. One of these sessions will take the form of small group learning in order to allow you to discuss and develop your ideas and skills.

In semester one, you undertake a course unit to support your future employability, jointly run with the Careers Service. The Geography Employability Programme will give you practice in:

  • teamwork
  • report-writing
  • researching
  • oral presentations
  • role playing
  • negotiation
  • preparing a CV and dissertation proposal.

In semester two, through tutorials, practical classes and lecture sessions, you will begin work towards your dissertation, which is handed in during your third year.

During the second year, you may also choose four optional modules. You can choose all of your modules within Geography, or you may decide to continue with a free choice element - either continuing your first-year area, or choosing a new subject for study.

In order to make the most of the unsurpassed range of courses that a University as large as Manchester is able to offer, you are able to choose up to two free choice subjects including the Manchester Leadership Programme.

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Research Design and Overseas Fieldcourses GEOG20072 20 Mandatory
Skills for Geographers GEOG20621 20 Mandatory
Economic Geography: Understanding the economy. creating economic spaces GEOG20101 20 Optional
Economic Geography: Understanding the economy. creating economic spaces GEOG20102 20 Optional
Development and Inequality GEOG20121 20 Optional
Development and Inequality GEOG20122 20 Optional
Green Planet: Plant Ecology and Global Change GEOG20291 20 Optional
Environmental Change and the Human Past GEOG20302 20 Optional
Glaciers GEOG20351 20 Optional
Glaciers GEOG20352 20 Optional
Remote Sensing in Action: Mapping and monitoring land cover changes GEOG20381 20 Optional
Remote Sensing in Action: Mapping and monitoring land cover changes GEOG20382 20 Optional
Rivers GEOG20401 20 Optional
Rivers GEOG20402 20 Optional
Spatial Thinking with GIS: Constructing and exploring virtual worlds GEOG20501 20 Optional
Spatial Thinking with GIS: Constructing and exploring virtual worlds GEOG20502 20 Optional
Transport Geographies GEOG20541 20 Optional
Transport Geographies GEOG20542 20 Optional
North American Cities - Change and Continuity in the Metropolis GEOG20551 20 Optional
North American Cities - Change and Continuity in the Metropolis GEOG20552 20 Optional
Creative Geographies GEOG21311 20 Optional
Moral Geographies GEOG21331 20 Optional
Sustainable Consumption and Production in the Global South GEOG21402 20 Optional
Everyday Geographies: Social and Cultural Concepts and Methods GEOG21421 20 Optional
Everyday Geographies: Social and Cultural Concepts and Methods GEOG21422 20 Optional
Quaternary Climates and Landscapes GEOG21431 20 Optional
Moral Geographies GEOG21432 20 Optional
City Planet: Challenges in theory and practice GEOG21891 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 28 course units for year 2

Course content for year 3

In your third year, lecture modules will consist of two sessions each week, divided into a two-hour and a one-hour session. For each course unit, one of these sessions will take the form of small group learning in order to allow you to discuss and develop your ideas and skills. Throughout the year, you will:

  • learn from leaders in their field as Manchester's world-class academics teach their areas of specific expertise
  • enjoy a large number of options, meaning you will often be taught in small classes, making for a truly world-class learning environment
  • study lecture-based course units that encourage active participation and often include a practical element.

Every course unit is assessed in part by a final examination and in part by a piece of coursework. The normal weighting is 67% examination and 33% coursework; although a limited number of practically-oriented modules are 100% coursework.

You will also complete your dissertation, drawing together the different strands of the degree course and studying a subject that really interests you. You will conceive, plan, execute and write up a major independent and novel piece of research. Supervision is provided by staff from the sub-discipline of geography most appropriate to your chosen topic. You will also have the support of a small tutorial group of your peers who are working on similar topics.

Course units for year 3

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Dissertation GEOG30000 40 Mandatory
Borders and Security GEOG30031 20 Optional
Borders and Security in a Mobile World GEOG30032 20 Optional
Mediterranean Quaternary Landscapes GEOG30131 20 Optional
Geographies of Food and Farming GEOG30161 20 Optional
Climate Change and carbon Cycling GEOG30181 20 Optional
Climate Change and carbon Cycling GEOG30182 20 Optional
Energy, Society and Space GEOG30201 20 Optional
Peatlands Under Pressure GEOG30231 20 Optional
Peatlands Under Pressure GEOG30232 20 Optional
Geography of Life GEOG30352 20 Optional
Islands: Playful Human Geographies? GEOG30502 20 Optional
Dryland Environments: Past, Present and Future GEOG30531 20 Optional
Understanding GIS GEOG30552 20 Optional
European Cities GEOG30652 20 Optional
Governing Urban Transformation GEOG30802 20 Optional
Asian Workers and the Labour of Globalisation GEOG31071 20 Optional
Space, Nature and Social Power GEOG31211 20 Optional
Space, Nature and Social Power GEOG31212 20 Optional
Coastal Processes: Sea Level Change and Marine Hazards GEOG31952 20 Optional
Understanding the Himalayan Landscape GEOG36661 20 Optional
Principles, Perspectives and Practice MGDI31101 20 Optional
Environment and development MGDI31212 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 23 course units for year 3

What our students say

I loved my time at Manchester. I made lifelong friends and learnt what it really meant to be 'independent'. My degree has been a real benefit to me in my career, and the skills I learnt have been essential. I have a career that challenges me intellectually, requires me to lead others and utilise key interpersonal skills such as negotiation and stakeholder management.

(Lois Cooper, Relationship Director, Barclays - BSc Geography)

The whole academic experience changed who I am and how I think. Graduating with a good degree result instilled a huge sense of confidence in my abilities that I hadn't had before. Without my experience at Manchester I wouldn't have had the confidence to put myself out there and challenge established methods and develop better ones.

(Edward Rollason, PhD Student - BSc Geography)

Facilities

  • Main teaching laboratory   - Most practical sessions take place in this laboratory.
  • Analytical laboratory  - For the analysis of a wide range of soil, sediment and water properties.
  • Microscopy laboratory  - Three high-range, research-quality microscopes with image-capture facilities and 50 teaching microscopes with phase-contrast capability.
  • Sediments and project laboratories  - For sample preparation, including ovens, furnaces and ball mills.
  • Specialist software  - You can learn professional skills such as coding and programing specialist, industry-standard, software such as image processing, GIS, GPS and cartographic representation.
  • Library resources  - The University's Main Library is the largest university library system in the UK apart from the copyright libraries and has a number of different working spaces. It is home to the University Map Collection, which comprises about 100,000 map sheets of every part of the world. We also have our very own Kantorowich Library, which contains many of the teaching and learning materials that you will need, from books and journals to DVDs and past dissertations.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service: