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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.