A Geography degree will allow you to delve into greater detail and discover a broader range of themes than your GCSE or A-Level studies. You will have some core modules which are compulsory and carefully selected by geography academics to cover the essential skills and topics, but the rest of your degree is made up of optional modules allowing you to choose the topics you want to study.
Although preparing academically is important, the most vital skill a geography student can have is a passion for the subject. The resources listed below will help develop your geographic curiosity before arriving at university:
Taster Lecture - Dominique Moran - Professor of Carceral Geography
Taster Lecture – Nick Kettridge Professor of Ecohydrology Lab practical led by Dr Phil Jones - Introduction to Google Earth as GIS tool
Why Study Geography at Birmingham
Where will Geography at Birmingham take you?
Geography Students talk about Learning and Living at Birmingham
Our Year One Curriculum – reading lists
Please see these resources as a chance to explore more of what interests you. Engage with topics you are curious about, it will serve you well in your life and your degree. The resources here connect to some of our core modules in year one, but there is no expectation that you will have read them before the course starts. The best opportunities for learning can be a little uncomfortable, so you might find some of these resources challenging. Don’t let that put you off! We offer these resources not as an answer to anything, but rather a starting point for conversations, debates, and thinking about the world around us.
Environmental Research Frontiers
Howard, C., Flather, C.H. & Stephens, P.A. A global assessment of the drivers of threatened terrestrial species richness. Nat Commun 11, 993 (2020).
Landrigan, P, et al. 2018. The Lancet Commission on pollution and health.
Nilon, C.H., Aronson, M.F., Cilliers, S.S., Dobbs, C., Frazee, L.J., Goddard, M.A., O’Neill, K.M., Roberts, D., Stander, E.K., Werner, P. and Winter, M., 2017. Planning for the future of urban biodiversity: a global review of city-scale initiatives. BioScience, 67(4), pp.332-342.
Rockström, J., et al. 2009. Planetary boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecology and Society 14(2): 32.
Van Loon, A., Gleeson, T., Clark, J. et al. (2016) Drought in the Anthropocene. Nature Geosci 9, 89–91.
UN Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’. UN Blog on the IPBES Global Assessment.
Other resources for Environmental Research Frontiers
Nathan Basiliko Climate Change: New Insights in the North
Jonathan Foley The other inconvenient truth: Food, climate change and land use
Kim Preshoff Why is biodiversity so important?
David Selak 4 ways we can avoid a catastrophic drought
Global Environmental Issues
Brundtland Report Oxford: OUP
Gleick, PH, & M. Palaniappan. 2010. Peak water limits to freshwater withdrawal and use. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107, 25, 11155-11162.
Hoekstra, A. & M.M. Mekonnen. 2012. The water footprint of humanity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109, 9, 3232-3237
Once you have read the article and understand the science take some time to explore the Water footprint tool.
Lutz, W. and K.C. Samir. 2010. Dimensions of global population projections: what do we know about future population trends and structures? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series B, 365, 2779-2791.
Rockström J and 28 co-authors. 2009. Planetary Boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecology and Society 14 (2): 32.
WWAP. 2015. The 5th World Water Development Report. Water for a sustainable world.
Other resources - Global Environmental Issues
Johan Rockstorm. Let the environment guide our development
Jared Diamond. Why do societies collapse?
What is a biophilic city? Find out here:
Contemporary Human Geography
Boschma, R.A., and Frenken, K. (2006) ‘Why is economic geography not an evolutionary science? Towards an evolutionary economic geography’, Journal of Economic Geography, 6, pp. 273-302
Noxolo, P. (2012) ‘One world, big society: a discursive analysis of the Conservative Green Paper on International Development’, in Geographical Journal, 178, 1: 31-41.
Parr, H., Philo, C. and Burns, N. (2004) Social geographies of rural mental health: experiencing inclusions and exclusions. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 29: 401-419.
Selby, J., Dahi, O. S., Fröhlich, C., & Hulme, M. (2017). Climate change and the Syrian civil war revisited. Political Geography, 60, 232-244.
Yeung, H.W. (2002) ‘The limits to globalization theory: a geographic perspective on global economic change’, Economic Geography, 78 (3), pp. 285-306.
Other resources – Contemporary Human Geography
Peter Kraftl & SophieHadfield-Hill Children and urban design (RGS Podcast).
Phil Jones Changing urban places through poetry (RGS Podcast).
Richard Peet. Dev-Net Just One Thing Project (short video)
Doreen Massey On London [extract from the film Secret City by Michael Channan & Lee Salter, 2012] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhHeelvwEN0
Royal Geographical Society
The Royal Geographical Society is the UK's learned society and professional body for geography, supporting geography and geographers across the world. Their website contains many online resources across a range of geographic themes for you to explore and further your subject knowledge; start by giving their Ask the Geographer podcast a listen!
Activities focused on Climate change and the Russian Arctic developed with the University of Birmingham and the WWF
Time for Geography
Discover which areas of Geography you might want to learn more about at University using this website which has hundreds of videos spanning a wide range of topics and interests.
100 Great Geosites
The UK and Ireland feature some of the most diverse and beautiful geology in the world and you could take a virtual tour of the great geosites from your own home.
Esri UK StoryMaps
StoryMaps present information about a topic using maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content. There are lots of different topics to discovery and you could even have a go at creating your own story map using their tutorial to describe your geography journey so far.
Other University Resources
At Birmingham, your university experience isn’t just about studying. You will have the opportunity to discover new experiences, develop different skills and make friends for life. Explore why our students love Birmingham…
Virtual Tour of the Campus: Click Here
Coming to Birmingham to study might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.
Applying for Accommodation: Click Here
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Studying at university requires you to pay for your tuition and cover your living expenses. However, financial support is available. Learn more about the loans and grants available from the government and other providers for UK, EU and international students; plus the wide variety of scholarships available at the University.
Guide to Student Finance Video: Click Here
Student Finance Explained Video: Click Here
This new state-of-the-art facility, along with its sister laboratories CTL Biolabs and CTL Engineering, is designed to support the latest methods in laboratory teaching in STEM subjects across the University. Collectively, these laboratories will allow you to benefit from transformational teaching in spaces designed to encourage and facilitate collaborative and inter-disciplinary working.
The Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR)
BIFoR aims to provide fundamental science, social science and cultural research of direct relevance to forested landscapes anywhere in the world. We make the evidence-based case for forests as part of one-planet living
Tour: Click Here
Research in 60 seconds: Click Here
Get a first-hand view of what it's really like at Birmingham. Our students and staff can't wait to chat and share their thoughts on our courses, gorgeous campus and incredible city!
Student blog videos: Click Here
Cadbury’s chocolate, The Bullring, Peaky Blinders, the Balti – all things synonymous with our city. Yet Birmingham has so much more to offer than this. As one of the original pioneering cities Birmingham has developed into a melting pot for shopping, food and drink, nightlife, sport, culture, and industry.
University FAQs for future students
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences