BA Geography with Year Abroad

Start date
4 years
UCAS code
Course Type
Undergraduate, Single Honours, Study abroad year
£9,250 (Home - 2022-23)
£23,400 Fee Band 2c (International Students - 2022-23)
More detail
Video transcript

Our Geography BA/BSc programmes are 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.

In Year 1, you will study issues crucial to the shape of the world and our place within it, such as natural hazards, floods, global environmental change, urban and social change, and cultural landscapes. Along with the urban laboratory of Birmingham on our doorstep, allowing us to ‘map the Midlands’, there is a residential field trip to Rotterdam for the entire Year 1 cohort.

Year 2 will provide you with deeper subject knowledge in areas of your choice – from neighbourhood planning and hydroclimatology to ecological systems and cultural geography – and research methods training.

On this four-year programme you will spend a year abroad between your second and fourth years at a partner institution in the EU or elsewhere in the world.

Year 4 is when you turn your interests into specialisms. These could be anything from  climates of the past, and war and peace in the Middle East to cultural geographies of development, and conservation practice.

Our single honours course can be taken as a BA or BSc degree. All students enjoy the same wide choice of course options and fieldwork opportunities.

Why study this course?

There are plenty of reasons to study Geography with Year Abroad BA at Birmingham:

  • 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 human and physical 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. 
  • Transferable skills - 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. In many cases these are jobs that are addressing global issues - jobs that really matter.
  • Fieldwork – Recent fieldwork destinations have included Rotterdam, Berlin, Rennes, Turkey, Switzerland and Tokyo. The costs of travel and accommodation on all compulsory field courses will be covered by the University. Find out more about fieldwork opportunities
  • Research-led teaching – Our world-leading research feeds directly into our programmes, meaning you will learn from academics who are experts in their field.

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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 study issues crucial to the shape of the world and our place within it, such as natural hazards, landslides, floods, global environmental change and cultural landscapes, as well as contemporary urban issues using Birmingham as a real-world laboratory. There are also fieldtrips to the likes of Ironbridge and the Lake District.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

Second year

The second year will provide you with deeper subject knowledge in areas of your choice. You will be introduced to specialist techniques such as computer cartography and the use of databases. You will also 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. 

Year 2

Compulsory modules

Optional modules - Example optional modules may include:

You will take a 120 credit Year Abroad based on module assessments taken at an overseas university. The allocation to the university abroad is based on student preference and availability of places. The Year Abroad is weighted at 12.5% of your whole degree.

Year 3 

You will take a 120 credit Year Abroad based on module assessments taken at an overseas university. The allocation to the university abroad is based on student preference and availability of places. The Year Abroad is weighted at 12.5% of your whole degree.

Fourth year

In your final year you select from a wide range of modules that provide the more specialised knowledge and skills in the areas of Geography that appeal to you. You also undertake a supervised dissertation on a topic of your own choice.

Year 4

Compulsory modules

Optional modules - Example optional modules may include:


Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2022. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules after that date; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


Standard Home student fees 2022-23

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2022, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Standard international student fees 2022-23

International fee
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 2c (Intermediate) £23,400

Learn more about fees and funding


Learn more about our scholarships and awards

How To Apply

Apply through UCAS at 
Learn more about applying

Standard offer

International Requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:

Specified subjects excluded for entry: General Studies and Critical Thinking

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are accepted but subjects are considered on a case by case basis - contact us for further guidance.

Applicants who take the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and meet our offer criteria will be made the typical offer for the programme, plus an alternative offer, which will be one grade lower plus a grade A in the EPQ.

International Students

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6, 6, 5 in Higher Llevel subjects plus 32 points overall. Higher Level subjects need to include the required subjects as defined for the A-level qualification, where applicable.

Standard English language requirements apply 
Learn more about international entry requirements

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

The Collaborative Teaching Laboratory is a brand new state-of-the-art facility designed to support the latest methods in laboratory teaching for STEM subjects.

Collaborative Teaching Laboratory

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.

How you will learn

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 coursework. We place strong emphasis on individual project work and the research dissertation in Years 2 and 3.

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 through our small group tutorial system and range of other support. 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 and into your career.


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 is an integral part of our degree programmes and many modules will have a local fieldwork component. Additionally, there is a four-day residential field course for all Geography and Environmental Science programmes in November of Year 1.

Geographers and Planners currently undertake a Europe-based residential course to Rotterdam, with a local, non-residential alternative also offered. As with all of our mandatory fieldwork accommodation and travel costs are covered by the University.

Year 2 and final year

At the end of semester two 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 field course destinations include Berline, Rennes, Turkey and the Swiss Alps. A local, non-residential alternative is also offered.

In Years 2 and 3 (or Years 2 and 4 for Year Abroad students) some modules 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 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

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.

Video transcript here

Your personal tutor

Our School is a close-knit community and we adopt a very personal approach. You will be assigned a personal tutor upon arrival; an academic member of staff who will support your academic progress and assist with any issues throughout your time at Birmingham.

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. 

From the outset, you will be encouraged to become and independent and self-motivated learner, shaping your own intellectual development.

Lecturers and world leading researchers

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 fields.

For example, Dr James Bendle, who has uncovered direct evidence that palm trees grew in Antarctica about 50 million years ago, leads a module in palaeoclimates, while Dr Dominique Moran has defined a new field enabling you to explore the geographies of incarceration. Our research is truly global taking us to all corners of the Earth from remote Antarctica to sprawling metropolises.

We are home to the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR), a pioneering facility investigating the long-term impact of climate and environmental change on woodlands.

Resources and 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.

Studying abroad

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 four-year Study Abroad course to spend Year 3 at a partner institution.

Contact Hours

You will be taught by professors, doctors and doctoral researchers, benefitting from rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience. 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.

Assessment Methods

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.

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.

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:

  • We have an excellent careers record with most of our alumni employed in a range of industries within six months of graduating.
  • Many of our degrees are accredited highlighting our academic excellence and their professional relevance and applicability to the workplace.
  • Fieldwork plays a central role in developing your skills, offering practical experience in a range of settings and the opportunity to explore our extraordinary and multifaceted world.

Example career routes include:

  • Conservation worker
  • Coastal engineer
  • Environmental consultant
  • Aid worker
  • Surveyor
  • Social worker
  • Forestry manager
  • Cartographer
  • Scientist

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Careers Network

Careers Network, our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area. Our team source exclusive  work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with  mentoringglobal internships and placements available to you.  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.

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities