Geography with International Year MSci (Hons)

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Geography addresses the key issues of today and tomorrow. Here at Birmingham you can study the full breadth of the subject – from migration and urban and social shifts to natural hazards and global environmental change. 

Our Geography programme is among the most flexible anywhere, so if you are interested in both human and physical geography, you can pick and choose your modules to focus on the human side, physical side or the interactions between the two. 

The four year Geography MSci with International Year provides an opportunity for you to spend a year studying overseas whilst following your interests in Geography more fully, and developing key skills for career development. It uses the same modules as the BSc Geography (F800) degree for the first, second and fourth years, with the third year spent overseas at a partner institution.

Course fact file

UCAS code: L70A

Duration: 4 years

Places Available: 181 (across all Geography and Planning courses)

Applications in 2014: 981

Typical Offer: AAA (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September

Details

The Geography degree course at Birmingham combines a sound academic training with an insight into practical, social, economic and environmental issues. You will refine your perspectives and develop skills in a degree programme that encourages the use of imagination and observation to resolve real problems affecting people and environments.

First year

The modular structure allows you maximum flexibility in developing your own interests without channeling you into decisive choices too early. In the first year you will be exposed to the main principles of human and physical geography, to global environmental issues, and various practical skills. You will also explore contemporary urban issues using Birmingham as a real-world laboratory. The first semester includes residential fieldwork in human and physical geography.

Second year

During the second year you will be introduced to specialist techniques such as computer cartography and the use of databases and spreadsheets. You learn how to develop a research proposal, which may be the starting point for your dissertation in the final year. Training in more advanced fieldwork skills is provided by courses held in European centres. You also choose from optional modules in many different branches of Geography.

Third year

In the third year of the course overseas following the degree programme of one of our partner institutions. In contrast with the BA/BSc with international year, this year counts towards your degree, hence the award of a masters upon conclusion of the programme.

Fourth year

The MSci provides a natural continuation to your first 3 years of study and allows you further your studies in human geography (city & modernity, geopolitics & globalisation, local economic development), physical geography (meteorological applications, hydrological & biogeochemical processes, river restoration) and environmental assessment or indeed a mixture of the disciplines.

Why study this course

Alex Podd

"I loved the idea of having such a large amount of flexibility in my course."  

Alex, MSci Geography with an International Year

Read more from Alex

Flexibility

One reason we are among the largest and most popular geography schools in the country is that we treat you as a geographer. This means we give you options to study both ‘physical’ and ‘human’ geography. We understand you may have a mixture of interests, from social to scientific, and we provide the opportunity for you to study them all.

Skills for future employment

Our graduates have exciting and varied career paths. Our degrees are designed with employers in mind enabling you to develop a unique blend of general, specialist and, crucially, transferable skills. Whether your future lies in environmental consultancy, urban planning, geoengineering, finance or research our degree programmes are designed to nurture your talent and equip you with an optimal skills-set. From data analysis and problem solving to communication and team–working, these transferable skills are highly valued by employers and will enhance your employability in the competitive job market. Find out more about graduate prospects and employability

Research-led teaching

The world-leading research we do feeds directly into our undergraduate programmes, which means you will be learning from academics who are experts in their field. Our Geography staff have a reputation for high-quality teaching and research of an international standard, and we are one of the largest Geography schools in the country.

Modules

Year 1

Core modules

Optional modules


Year 2

Core modules

Optional modules


Year 3

For the international year, you will spend the third year of the course overseas following the degree programme of one of our partner institutions.

In contrast with the BA/BSc Geography with Year Abroad, this year counts towards your degree, hence the award of a masters upon conclusion of the programme.


Year 4

Core modules

Optional modules

 

The modules described here are the ones that we currently offer and will give you a good idea of the range of subjects that we teach. However as our undergraduate teaching is research-led and we constantly review our teaching to ensure that the modules that we offer are up to date, there may be changes to module titles and content.

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply
Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: AAA

Required subjects and grades: Grade C in each of GCSE English and Maths.

General Studies: We do not accept General Studies, Critical Studies, Critical Thinking, Science in Society, World Development, Communication and Culture, Citizenship Studies, Use of Maths

Additional information:

Unconditional offers will be made to high-quality applicants who are predicted AAA or above at A level. For details see the Unconditional Offer Scheme 2015

Unconditional offers are based on:

  • A Level predictions of AAA +
  • AS results of at least ABB
  • 5 GCSEs at grade A including English, Maths and a Science
  • 2 GCSEs at grade B
  • Academic reference
  • Personal statement

Other qualifications are considered – see entry requirements for full details. 

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: minimum of 32 points including 6,6,6 at HL including Geography. Minimum of 5 in SL English and Maths if not offered at GCSE or equivalent.

Please note that we have reviewed our policy on the IB Diploma for 2016 entry and our offers will now focus on performance in Higher Level subjects. For more information and details please read our 2016 IB Diploma requirements.

Standard English language requirements apply 
Learn more about international entry requirements

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com
Learn more about applying

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

Learning and teaching

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.

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

BSc Geography Graduate "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.

Extensive facilities

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 have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any 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.

Personal Tutor

From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

 

Fieldwork

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

Year 1

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. 

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.

Year 2 and final year

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

Assessment methods

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.

Employability

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 93.3 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.

93.3% of our graduates are in employment or further study within six months of graduating  2013/14 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 Careers Network  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,  global internships  and mentoring . 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.