White cliffs on the 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
Admissions test(s)ox.ac.uk/tsacrossWritten workNone
bar chartAdmissions statistics*

Interviewed: 60%
Successful: 20%
Intake: 87
*3-year average 2019-21

phoneContact

+44 (0) 1865 275887
Email Geography

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

Unistats information for this course can be found at the bottom of the page

Please note that there may be no data available if the number of course participants is very small.

Geography provides a diverse interdisciplinary degree that bridges the natural and social sciences, providing enhancement of a broad range of transferable skills, and an education encompassing pressing issues at a range of scales, from local up to global. The degree spans such key topics as climate and environmental change, inequality, social, economic and cultural transformation, biodiversity loss, geomorphological processes in drylands, geographical data science, post-colonialism and globalization.

The Oxford Geography degree provides a holistic view of the workings of physical and human environments, the ways in which humans are transforming the world and the implications for human societies.  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, shaping their programme to match their developing interests. There is emphasis placed on interdisciplinary approaches within the course, with opportunities to explore the intersections between geography and other disciplines from the humanities, social and natural sciences.

The facilities available at Oxford are among the best in the country. Field equipment used by students for fieldwork reports and dissertations include Lidar systems for remote sensing of winds, theodolites for tracking balloons to calculate winds in the lower atmosphere, a high specification computing cluster which allows students to access data from the latest climate change experiments, as well as satellite-derived data of clouds and pollution. 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. The central and collegiate Library resources, electronically and in print are second to none. 

Fieldwork and international opportunities

The School of Geography and the Environment emphasizes 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 in the first term, as well as local skills-related field days. Second-year students will undertake a week-long overseas residential field course (currently to the Netherlands, Berlin and Tenerife). Independent research, whether field-based, employing geocomputational tools, remote sensed data, in laboratories, or archives, is also a key element of the dissertation. Around 30% of our undergraduates choose to do their dissertation overseas in a typical year.

 students using a theodolite 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

Geography

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 usually comprise 2-4 students and a tutor. Group sizes for optional departmental seminars and classes may vary depending on the options you choose, but are typically below 20 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:
    • Climate change impacts and adaptation
    • Childhood and youth in the global south
    • Climate change and variability
    • Complexity
    • Conservation
    • Contemporary issues in cultural geography
    • Critical development geographies
    • Desert landscapes and dynamics
    • Environmental governance in Central Asia
    • Finance and sustainability
    • Geographies for the Anthropocene
    • Geographies of finance
    • Geography and policy
    • Geographic data science
    • Geography at war
    • Geopolitics in the margins
    • Geographies of heritage
    • Island life
    • New approaches to urban geography
    • Politics, society and culture of China
    • Sustainable development in practice
    • Sustainable urbanisms
    • 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 recommended for candidates to have Geography to A-level, Advanced Higher or Higher Level in the IB or another equivalent.

If a practical component forms part of any of your science A‐levels used to meet your offer, we expect you to pass it.

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: TSA
Test date:2 November 2022  
Registration deadline:                   30 September 2022                                                                     

All candidates must take the computer-based Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) as part of the application. Separate registration for this test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. Everything you need to know, including guidance on how to prepare, can be found on the TSA 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 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 environmental policy, climate science, communications and media, charities and NGOs including the United Nations, management consultancy, government and politics, conservation and heritage management, the law, banking, finance, teaching, research, and much more.

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.

We don't want anyone who has the academic ability to get a place to study here to be held back by their financial circumstances. To meet that aim, Oxford offers one of the most generous financial support packages available for UK students and this may be supplemented by support from your college.

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2023.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home£9,250
Overseas£39,740

Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

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.

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 2023 are estimated to be between £1,290 and £1,840 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

A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK, Irish nationals and other eligible students with UK citizens' rights - see below*) students undertaking their first undergraduate degree**, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2023 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to Home students with a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to UK students from households with incomes of £27,500 or less. The UK government also provides living costs support to Home students from the UK and those with settled status who meet the residence requirements.

*For courses starting on or after 1 August 2021, the UK government has confirmed that EU, other EEA, and Swiss Nationals will be eligible for student finance from the UK government if they have UK citizens’ rights (i.e. if they have pre-settled or settled status, or if they are an Irish citizen covered by the Common Travel Area arrangement). The support you can access from the government will depend on your residency status.

 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 the Netherlands, Berlin 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 urban nature and diversity and conflict in Berlin. Students have to write a report of their research which is assessed as part of the final examinations.

Contextual information

Course data from Discover Uni 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