Geography | University of Oxford
Dorset coastline
The Dorset coastline as captured on a Geography field trip.
(Credit: Giles Wiggs)

Geography

mortar boardUCAS codeL700calendarDuration3 years (BA)
pencilEntrance requirementsA*AAHeadSubject requirements Geography
tickAdmissions test(s)TBCcrossWritten workNone
bar chartAdmissions statistics*

Interviewed: 72%
Successful: 21%
Intake: 75
*3-year average 2016-18

phoneContact

+44 (0) 1865 275887
Email Geography

Subject requirements:       Essential       Recommended       Helpful – may be useful on course

Geography is a diverse discipline that bridges the arts and social and natural sciences, providing a broad education that addresses pressing issues including environmental change, regional and global inequalities and the transformation of global economy and culture. Students obtain a coherent view of the rapidly-changing world and the ways in which society influences and is influenced by it.


The Oxford Geography degree focuses on the interrelationships between society and the physical and human environment. Students are introduced to the full range of geographical topics in the foundational courses, which they can then follow up in more detail in the optional papers. There is considerable emphasis placed on interdisciplinary approaches in the course, with opportunities to explore the cross-fertilisation between geography and other disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, history, political science, economics, earth sciences and biology.

The facilities available at Oxford are among the best in the country, notably the Radcliffe Science Library (RSL), which holds a geography collection of over 28,000 volumes on its open shelves with many more held in closed stack storage. There are over 100 print journals on the open shelves of the RSL as well as electronic access to over 600 core journals. The department also has well-equipped Geolabs for practical physical courses and individual research projects including the Geography Research and Teaching Labs, the Oxford Luminescence Dating Lab  and the Oxford Rock Breakdown Lab.

Fieldwork and international opportunities

The School of Geography and the Environment emphasises the importance of fieldwork since we believe there is no substitute for teaching subjects first hand. In the first year, all students take part in a four-day physical geography field trip at the start of term, as well as local skills-related field days. Second-year students will undertake a week-long overseas residential field course (currently to Berlin and Tenerife). Independent research in the field or in archives is also a key element of the dissertation with around 30% of our undergraduates choosing to do their dissertation overseas each year.

 students studying students on a field trip students studying
“The geography course is so diverse, ranging from the economy to rocks, as well as delving into geographical controversies that get you thinking about the world around us. The course isn't just a series of lectures though, we get classes where we carry out group work, allowing us to try out new skills and engage with other people on our course.”
GEORGINA
'“I chose to apply for Geography at Oxford because of the uniqueness of the course and the challenge I knew it would provide. Throughout the three years you study both human and physical core topics, with the ability to select special topics on top of this in your second and third years. I am both a physical and human geographer, choosing Biogeography and Finance as my two special subjects. The highlight of the academic week is the tutorial – one of the main reasons I applied to Oxford. There are so few places where you have the opportunity to discuss your week’s work with a leading academic in their field.”
RHYS
“The endless but incredibly satisfying process of being emailed an essay title and reading list (several pages long) and having no clue about the topic and often not understanding the terms in the essay question.  Yet five days later I have read lots, in the surroundings of the most beautiful and well-equipped libraries, written an essay and argued my case in front of a world-class expert.”
NAOMI

A typical week

  • Lectures in the morning
  • Seminars/practical classes in the afternoon
  • Tutorials: at least one college tutorial a week, and some college-based classes.

Tutorials are usually 2-4 students and a tutor. Class sizes may vary depending on the options you choose. There would usually be no more than around 20 students though classes for some of the more popular papers may be up to 40 students. Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subject. Many are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by postgraduate students who are usually studying at doctorate level. To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

Course structure

YEAR 1

COURSES

  • Four compulsory courses:
    • Earth systems processes
    • Human geography
    • Geographical controversies
    • Geographical techniques
  • Induction physical geography field trip to Dorset (four days)
  • One-day human geography field trip exercise in Oxford

ASSESSMENT

Four written papers: two fieldwork reports; submitted essay on Geographical controversies

YEARS 2 AND 3

COURSES

  • Geographical thought: histories, philosophies and practices (core)
  • Foundational courses (two chosen)
    • Space, place and society
    • Earth system dynamics
    • Environmental geography
  • Options (three chosen) currently include:
    • African societies
    • Biogeography, biodiversity and conservation
    • Climate change impacts and adaptation
    • Childhood and youth in the global south
    • Climate change and variability
    • Complexity
    • Cultural spaces
    • Desert landscapes and dynamics
    • Geographies of dissent and resistance
    • Geographies of finance
    • Geographies of nature
    • Geography at war
    • Geopolitics in the margins
    • Island life
    • New approaches to urban geography
    • The Quaternary period
    • Transport and mobilities
  • Dissertation
  • Overseas field trip

ASSESSMENT

Six written papers: three extended essays; fieldwork report; dissertation

The options listed above are illustrative and may change. The University may cap the number of students who are able to take a particular one. A full list of current options is available on the Geography website.

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

Academic requirements

A-levels: A*AA
Advanced Highers:AA/AAB
IB:39 (including core points) with 766 at HL
Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications, and international qualifications)                                                           

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Subject requirements

 Recommended: It is highly recommended for candidates to have Geography to A-level, Advanced Higher or Higher Level in the IB or another equivalent.

If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Applying

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Admissions test

Test: TBC
Test date:TBC     
Registration deadline:                  TBC             

Further information about all our written tests can be found on our tests page.

Written work

You do not need to submit any written work when you apply for this course.

What are tutors looking for?

Applicants will need to display evidence of a strong academic record and perform well in the admissions test. At interview tutors are looking for a candidate’s ability to deploy their knowledge in ways that show initiative, enthusiasm and an awareness of the world around them. Interviews are not a test of knowledge but give candidates the opportunity to respond in a thoughtful way to unpredictable questions and ideas. For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the Geography website.

Careers

The broad set of transferable skills means Geography graduates have a wide range of career opportunities. In recent years graduates have proceeded to employment in management consultancy, local and central government, conservation and heritage management, the law, banking, the media, teaching and research.

Karoline, a Migration Policy Officer, says: ‘“Thinking geographically” is still very much part of my work: migration is a matter which can only be properly understood from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Not only is it useful that I was as used to reading studies about migration dynamics as I was to understanding the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change… the very Oxfordian skill to be able to turn out concise written work in super-short timeframes is trained and tested on nearly a daily basis!’

You can see more on alumni profiles on the Geography website.

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2019.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU£9,250
Islands
(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£9,250
Overseas£24,750

For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2019 are estimated to be between £1,058 and £1,643 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support

Home/EU

A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK)/EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2019 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to those on a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to those from households with incomes of £16,000 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

Islands
(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man

Overseas

Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Geography

First year students attend a four day residential field course in the UK during their first term. The cost of the field trip is borne by the School of Geography and the Environment and there is no charge to students.

Students are also required to undertake a one week fieldtrip in their second year and have a choice between trips to Copenhagen or Tenerife. These field trips provide students with the opportunity to learn and practice the field research skills that they will employ in their own dissertation research. Some of the projects students have had the opportunity to undertake on previous trips include pilot balloon tracking of trade winds and monitoring of microclimates using i-button data in Tenerife and studying everyday youth politics and issues of ethnic assimilation in Copenhagen. Students have to write a report of their research which is assessed as part of the final examinations. The cost of the field trip is borne by the School of Geography and the Environment and there is no charge to students.

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provides applicants with statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford. But there is so much more to an Oxford degree that the numbers can’t convey.

The Oxford tutorial

College tutorials are central to teaching at Oxford. Typically, they take place in your college and are led by your academic tutor(s) who teach as well as do their own research. Students will also receive teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. However, tutorials offer a level of personalised attention from academic experts unavailable at most universities.

During tutorials (normally lasting an hour), college subject tutors will give you and one or two tutorial partners feedback on prepared work and cover a topic in depth. The other student(s) in your college tutorials will be from your year group, doing the same course as you and will normally be at your college. Such regular and rigorous academic discussion develops and facilitates learning in a way that isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials also allow for close progress monitoring so tutors can quickly provide additional support if necessary.

Read more about tutorials and an Oxford education

College life

Our colleges are at the heart of Oxford’s reputation as one of the best universities in the world.

  • At Oxford, everyone is a member of a college as well as their subject department(s) and the University. Students therefore have both the benefits of belonging to a large, renowned institution and to a small and friendly academic community. Each college or hall is made up of academic and support staff, and students. Colleges provide a safe, supportive environment leaving you free to focus on your studies, enjoy time with friends and make the most of the huge variety of opportunities.
  • Each college has a unique character, but generally their facilities are similar. Each one, large or small, will have the following essential facilities:
    • Porters’ lodge (a staffed entrance and reception)
    • Dining hall
    • Lending library (often open 24/7 in term time)
    • Student accommodation
    • Tutors’ teaching rooms
    • Chapel and/or music rooms
    • Laundry
    • Green spaces
    • Common room (known as the JCR).
  • All first year students are offered college accommodation either on the main site of their college or in a nearby college annexe. This means that your neighbours will also be ‘freshers’ and new to life at Oxford. This accommodation is guaranteed, so you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to live after accepting a place here, all of this is organised for you before you arrive.
  • All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation and some offer it for the entire duration of your degree. You may choose to take up the option to live in your college for the whole of your time at Oxford, or you might decide to arrange your own accommodation after your first year – perhaps because you want to live with friends from other colleges.
  • While college academic tutors primarily support your academic development, you can also ask their advice on other things. Lots of other college staff including welfare officers help students settle in and are available to offer guidance on practical or health matters. Current students also actively support students in earlier years, sometimes as part of a college ‘family’ or as peer supporters trained by the University’s Counselling Service.

More about Oxford colleges and how you choose

Was this page useful?*