A geography degree allows you to 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:
Lab practical - Intro to Google Earth as GIS tool, Uni Campus on Google earth, Surface water runoff, Mapping bomb sites in Birmingham with an overlay and Mapping UK wide housing price data Lecture
Taster Lecture - Dominique Moran - Professor in Carceral Geography
Nick Kettridge Taster Talk
Why Study Geography at Birmingham
Geography Students talk about Learning and Living at Birmingham
Where will Geography at Birmingham take you?
Geographical Association (GA)
Reading around A-Level topics and your other interest areas could provide some excellent subject knowledge improvement in preparation for your undergraduate studies; this will also help you become familiar with academic writing and referencing. The Geographical Association provides several resources you could use to further your knowledge:
- The GA have created a webpage devoted to A-Level students preparing for university which is full of reading lists, booster videos and more
- The GA ‘Geography’ journal is available for members but if you don’t fancy joining you could read a free copy which includes an excellent piece on the Changing Arctic
- GeogPod, the GA podcast covers topics such as ‘climate change and coastal policy’ and ‘food security and sustainability’
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
‘Factfulness’ - Hans, Ola and Anna Rosling
This book challenges how you approach your understanding of the world; a great chance to develop critical thinking skills that will be incredibly valuable throughout your degree. The interactive quiz will have you questioning whether you know more about the world than a chimpanzee. If you can’t access the book you can watch the TED talk, how not to be ignorant about the world.
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.
Please see these resources as a chance to explore more of what interests you. Curiosity will serve you well in life and in your degree! 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.
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.
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.
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
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…
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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
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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.
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School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences