How you learn is as important as what you learn. The learning experience at Birmingham combines a wide variety of study methods extending way beyond the lecture theatre.
You will be taught by a mixture of professors, doctors and doctoral researchers, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience.You can find out more about the members of staff in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences where you can read about their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest.
What can you expect?
In Years 1 and 2 of your Geography degree you can expect to average between 10-14 hours of lectures and classes per week. In addition, there are residential field courses in both years. In your final year, more of your time will be spent on an independent research project and independent study; therefore, you can expect to average between 6-9 hours of contact time spent in lectures, seminars and tutorials.
As a Geography student your degree will have a modular structure. In each year learning is delivered over two teaching semesters of eleven weeks and a third summer term of eight weeks for revision, examinations and progress review. Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, including lectures, small group tutorials, seminars, laboratory classes and field classes. Particular course modules in Geography may involve individual or group project work, preparing oral presentations, and library or web-based research.
In the video below, our Geography students talk about Learning and Living at the University of Birmingham.
Video transcript here
"Staff in the geography department and in the whole university are friendly and made it really easy to settle in. At the same time they have offered a high standard of teaching and support."
An inspirational and enquiry-based learning environment
Our cutting-edge teaching programme is built on a foundation of over one hundred years of research and teaching excellence. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner shaping your own intellectual development with us. You will learn from academic specialists at the top of their fields and the world-leading research they carry out feeds directly into our degree programmes. The research-led teaching on our flexible degree courses ensures an inspirational and enquiry-based learning environment in the classroom, lab and field.
As well as lectures, tutorials and practical classes you will have access to extensive educational facilities across the School and University including library resources, a well-equipped map room, state-of-the-art laboratory and IT facilities, and purpose-built learning spaces. You will also have a wealth of opportunities to go out into the field; gaining hands-on experience on residential courses across the UK and overseas.
We are home to the Lapworth Museum of Geology, brimming with more than 250,000 specimens some over 500 million years old. As one of the oldest specialist designated and accredited geological museums in the UK, this is an invaluable study resource.
Support during your studies
You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham. We also have dedicated welfare tutors who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.
During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into University. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.
Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the Centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions with support with mathematics and statistics based problems provided by experienced mathematicians, to workshops on a range of topics including note talking, reading, writing and presentation skills.
Getting out of the lecture theatre and into the field is an exhilarating experience. Whether you're sampling, mapping or collecting data, the subject matter really comes alive. There's no better way to learn about the natural and the built world than by being in the great outdoors.
Fieldwork is an integral part of our degree programmes. It offers you the chance to travel, work independently as well as in a group and learn valuable technical skills.
Video transcript here
Fieldwork experience begins in the first semester, with the first field course designed to get you working and learning in small groups to understand how the city of Birmingham works.
The fieldwork programme takes place in the City Centre, in the renowned and established Jewellery Quarter industrial area, and into some of the residential suburbs of the City, including the world-famous Bournville garden suburb, where Cadbury's is based. A second semester field course uses the city's extensive green areas to examine urban climate and micro-meteorology, habitat conservation, and the use of mobile mapping technologies.
There is a UK residential field course of four days for all Geography students in November of Year 1. Locations include Snowdonia, the Peak District, Shropshire, and the Forest of Dean. All field courses include themes from both human and physical geography.
Students devise small group projects, collect data to answer particular questions, analyse their data, and present the results to the rest of the field course. You will do all of this in a single day, and then do it again the following day with a different problem and a different group. This is hard work but immensely enjoyable, and at the end of your field course you know 40 of your fellow geographers really well because you will have lived and worked with them as a team. You will also know more about the problems and possibilities of collecting field evidence to solve geographical research questions.
Year 2 and final year
At the end of semester two Single Honours students undertake a second residential field course of six or seven days.
Many of these field courses are centred in European cities, and they are more specialised and focus specifically on human or physical geography topics. Recent human geography field course destinations have included cities such as Amsterdam; Moscow; Prague; Berlin; Dublin, and Seville, whilst physical geographers have been to Evora in Portugal; Malta; Tenerife; and Bala, in Wales.
In Years 2 and 3 (or Years 2 and 4 for Year Abroad students) some field courses involve additional fieldwork components, which are usually non-residential. Such work is especially important in biogeography, palaeoecology and hydrology where experience in field methodologies is even more essential.
For the majority of students field training is an important part of the preparation for undertaking dissertation projects in the final year. Some students decide to undertake research work overseas. This usually requires more preparation and some fund-raising. The School, the University, and the Royal Geographical Society have competitive travel scholarships for this purpose. It is sometimes possible to develop dissertation research in association with staff research projects.
Recent student research of this kind has been undertaken in Iceland, Costa Rica, Norway, the Pyrenees and in northern Italy.
We will make the necessary arrangements to accommodate students with disabilities for field courses throughout your time at Birmingham.
Find out more about fieldwork costs and funding.
The School has official ERASMUS exchange programmes with universities in Germany (Gottingen), the Netherlands (Groningen, where many of the courses are given in English), and Belgium (Leuvan). This enables students on the 4-year Study Abroad course to spend Year 3 at a partner institution.
Your degree will be appraised in a mixture of ways: coursework, major projects, practical work, oral presentations, exams and continual assessment. Some modules only have an exam, others only project work. We place strong emphasis on individual project work/the research dissertation in Years 2 and 3.
At the beginning of each module, you'll be given information on how and when you'll be assessed for that particular programme of study. You'll receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done for future modules.
Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching at school or college. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.
During your first year you will also be given a formal transition review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you may encounter.
Our degree programmes will equip you with the transferable skills essential for future employment. Geography graduates are skilled in working with digital technologies, statistics, mapping packages, GIS and mobile media. Our careers record speaks for itself with 96.2 per cent of our graduates in employment or further study after six months. In many cases these are jobs that are addressing global issues - jobs that really matter.
As a Birmingham Geography graduate you will be highly aware of the globalising economy, sensitive to the variety of the world’s cultures, and have an understanding of the physical processes and critical issues that impact upon the environment. You will have a perspective that encompasses the global, regional and local and be highly regarded by employers.
96.2% of our graduates are in employment or further study within six months of graduating
2014/15 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey
Video transcript here
Where could a Geography degree take you?
Recent graduates have found employment in a wide range of fields. Our most recent student survey showed that six months after graduation many students were engaged in work or study directly related to geography, with the remainder choosing career paths in areas outside of the subject where the transferable skills gained on the programme prove invaluable.
Many Geography graduates use their skills to get jobs directly related to geography, including nature conservation, environmental consultancy, tourism development, and town planning. A proportion also go on to pursue careers in teaching. A number of students get jobs in the public services, the commercial sector and industry, including financial and professional services, personnel management, retail, and local government. Around a quarter of graduates go on to further study before entering employment including PGCEs (for teaching), one-year taught Masters courses (such as those for town planning), or doctoral research programmes.
Find out what other graduates have gone on to do
Find out more about career opportunities in Geography and Planning
Preparing you for your career
Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our
can help you achieve your goal.
Our unique careers guidance service offers specialist advice each week within the School and is tailored to your academic subject area. Our team source exclusive
work experience opportunities
to help you stand out amongst the competition, including placements,
. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning
Personal Skills Award (PSA)
recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.
Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.
Clubs and societies
The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.
Shape your academic experience
Choose to study here and you will have a Student Representative, who works with the University and Students' Union on issues that directly affect students. You could even become one yourself. Not only would you be making a difference to the academic student experience, but you would also be developing transferable skills for the future.
Find out more on the Guild of Students website
Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.
The City of Birmingham
One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.
Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.
Societies, School and campus life
The School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences is one of the friendliest and most dynamic at the University. There’s a great atmosphere and sense of community among students and staff. Learning apart, there is a lot going on, much of it driven by the two main student societies:
The Kinvig Society
- named after the first head of the Geography Department, Robert Henry Kinvig – is one of the biggest and most active student societies on campus. Run by students, it lays on a lively and varied programme of social events throughout the year, culminatingin the black-tie Kinvig Ball at one of the city’s top venues in November and the Three Peaks challenge in aid of chosen charities. As well as trips to restaurants, bars and nightclubs, there are sporting events: Kinvig sports representatives organise teams for the inter-departmental University sports leagues. Football, rugby, hockey, netball, volleyball and squash are usually available for both men and women; in some cases, for mixed teams as well. If you’re a geographer or environmental science student, Kinvig will write to you before term starts with a full programme of events to help you settle in happily during your first few weeks.
Follow Kinvig on Twitter
The Lapworth Society (LapSoc)
is the student society for Earth Sciences students. Named after Birmingham’s first Professor of Geology, Charles Lapworth, it organises social events such as pub quizzes, drinks nights and the end-of-year-ball in March. It fields intermural sports teams in the University’s netball and six-a-side football leagues, training regularly and playing matches every Wednesday afternoon against other schools across campus.
Follow LapSoc on Twitter