Geography (Human) (BSc)

Human Geographers engage with and influence the key debates in contemporary society. The Human Geography course at Cardiff provides students with a comprehensive overview of the subject as well as opportunities to specialise in specific areas such as cultural, development, economic, environmental or political geography.

Established in 1966, and based in the Grade II* listed Glamorgan Building, the Cardiff School of Geography and Planning is an international centre for teaching and research in Human Geography. A key aspect of the course lies in its emphasis on the relevance of Human Geography. Students will learn how to use the knowledge they accumulate to shape the views and actions of elected decision-makers, the voluntary sector, and industry in order to improve society.

Geography - Human - BSc

The course explores geographical ideas and practice at various spatial scales, making connections between the local, regional, national and global levels. It covers the key social, cultural, political, economic, development and environmental components of geography, and allows students to take specialist modules which build on their own interests and passions.

Students also have a valuable opportunity to translate their geographical knowledge into practice by offering a work placement module in the second year. This module enables students to ease their transition between education and the 'real world' by providing crucial work experience beyond the University.

Field Study Visits are a key aspect of our Human Geography programme.  Destinations for students arriving in September 2015 include Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Tanzania. Some field study visits involve additional costs to students, and further details are included under the ‘Course Details’ section. There are also additional opportunities to undertake periods of funded study in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia, through the University’s Global Opportunities Centre.

Key facts

UCAS CodeL700
Entry pointSeptember 2016
Duration3 years
Typical places availableThe School admits c150 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes.
Typical applications receivedC950 applicants to the undergraduate degree programmes
Typical A level offerAAA - AAB, including Geography A-level. General Studies is not accepted.
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerGrade A in the Core and grades AA-AB at A-level, including Geography.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer38-36 points
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Specific admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme can be found online.

Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course.
QAA subject benchmark

Town and Country Planning

Admissions tutor(s)

Dr Christopher Bear, Admissions Tutor

Important Legal Information: The programme information currently being published in Course Finder is under review and may be subject to change. The final programme information is due to be published by May 2016 and will be the definitive programme outline which the University intends to offer. Applicants are advised to check the definitive programme information after the update, to ensure that the programme meets their needs.

The three year course is carefully designed to ensure all students have a good understanding of the key issues in Human Geography and this is achieved through compulsory year one modules. During the second year students are offered a considerable range of options, enabling them to begin to pursue specific areas of interest. The final year, draws significantly upon the research of academics within the school of Geography and Planning, delving into great depth in the areas students wish to follow.

Students taking this degree will also develop transferable skills, including: oral presentations, various writing formats (including essays, reports, and policy briefings), group and individual working, and time management. Significantly, students will learn skills in the broad range of research methods used in the discipline. With supervision from an expert active in their research area, students undertake exciting projects at home and abroad. The quality of these dissertations often leads to student progression into postgraduate study and even publication.

In the School of Geography and Planning we place a great emphasis on practical learning. To this end there are field study visits available in each year of the undergraduate programme. In Year 1, these field study visits are local to the Cardiff city region. In Year 2, students can opt to enjoy a residential field study visit to a European city (currently Amsterdam and/or Copenhagen for 2015). In their final year, students can opt for a field study visit to a global city location. Students arriving in September 2015 can choose from the following destinations: Hong Kong, Los Angeles or Tanzania.

Additional Costs for Field Study Visits

Field study visits are 'fee inclusive' in year one. In year two, one field trip is ‘fee inclusive’ and students wishing to attend further overseas trips are required to self-fund at a cost of around £220 per trip in 2015.  In year three, the global cities field study visits are subsidised by 66%, and in 2015 student will contribute around £400 to the costs. Students should expect to cover the costs of local travel and subsistence whilst on field study visits.

The degree encompasses a wide range of module choices, allowing you to navigate through the degree, selecting options that interest you most. The field trips are not only insightful and interesting but lots of fun, as you get to know a new city first hand with your course mates.

Emma Spence, Geography (Human) Student

Year one

The first year provides an introduction to the key dimensions of human geography, a showcase of the innovative approaches geography brings to contemporary issues, and strong overview of urban and rural development issues. Through the Study Skills module, students will also develop the essential skills for studying human geography at degree level.

Our focus is on human geography, but we recognise that students may be interested in aspects of physical geography. Each year students are offered the option of studying one module in Physical Geography, focussing on the ways in which physical processes impact upon humans and how these processes are managed.

Find out more about our Core Modules from the module leaders

Module titleModule codeCredits
CitiesCP014120 credits
The CountrysideCP014620 credits
Natural Resources and EnergyEA110610 credits
Introduction to GeomorphologyEA111810 credits

Year two

The second year builds on the foundations provided in Year 1, looking in more depth at the history of geographical thought and the cultural, development, economic, political and social sub-fields of human geography. The Citizen Geographies module includes the possibility of a work placement. The second year culminates in a Field Study Visit to a European city (currently Amsterdam for 2015).

Find out more about our Core Modules from the module leaders

Find out more about our Optional Modules from the module leaders

Module titleModule codeCredits
Developing Research Methods IICP025510 credits
Developing Research Methods ICP025410 credits
Geographical IdeasCP025320 credits

Year three

The third year explores the broader relevance of geography to policy and society in the Public Geographies module. This and the dissertation are compulsory. The third year then allows students to specialise in particular areas of Human Geography, with a broad choice of modules and field study visits. Students must choose four optional modules, of which one can be a field study visit.

Find out more about our Core Modules from the module leaders

Find out more about our Optional Modules from the module leaders

Optional module notes
In the autumn semester students can choose one OR two modules. They can then choose two OR three option modules in the Spring semester, dependent on their autumn choices. All students must take 120 credits in total.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

All teaching on the Human Geography course takes place within the Grade II and III listed buildings of the Cathays Park Campus. Teaching rooms and libraries are within 5 minutes walking distance of each other and are equipped with modern teaching technologies.

Learning environment
Our approach to teaching is based upon a commitment to provide the highest quality teaching to our students. As far as possible, we aim to teach students in small groups because we believe that this encourages a more positive learning environment between staff and students and amongst students themselves. Typically you will study six modules per year, and will receive 12 hours of contact-led study per week.

Teaching takes place through a variety of methods, including lectures, seminars, tutorials, field study visits, computer-labs, and workshops. In addition to these core elements of our teaching, students have the opportunity to participate in a considerable range of additional learning opportunities, including: study skills training, employability workshops with careers centre advisors and school alumni, and weekly evening seminars with high profile speakers from academia, policy and business.

You will be set varied forms of individual and group assessment, including essays, reports, policy briefings, presentations, and posters. We encourage innovation and creativity in the delivery and assessment of teaching and learning, hence you may also be tasked with producing digital media outputs. These varied and challenging forms of assessment will equip you for the demands of a changing workplace.

Human Geographers graduate with an excellent knowledge-base, they are able to think critically and logically about tasks, and they possess a wide range of skills relevant to the employment market. This is why Geography is well respected by employers and Geography graduates have one of the highest rates of employment.

In 2014, 100% of our graduates were in employment or further study within six months of graduating. Moreover, 80% of those in employment were in professional or managerial jobs.

Students, and more often parents, are often unsure of the types of professions that Geographers might enter. There is no simple answer as the occupations are so numerous. However, the Royal Geographical Society does provide a useful list of recent graduate positions taken by Geographers (

Examples include:
Business and Finance: financial risk assessor, accountant, insurance, logistics, retail management, management consultant, economic analyst, buyer, location analyst

Development and global issues: aid worker, charity officer, Civil Servant for DFID, HIV education officer, human rights officer,  refugee and asylum adviser,  economic adviser and analyst, United Nations terrorism prevention officer, Diplomat

Environment and sustainability: Environmental campaign organiser, civil servant for DEFRA, conservation worker, environmental health officer, environmental engineer, pollution analyst, forestry manager, environmental consultant

Settlement: Planner, Housing manager, Surveyor, Urban regeneration officer, Local government services, Estate agent, Town planner, Transport officer

Society: Teacher, Social worker, Emergency services manager, exhibition designer and curator, health education campaigner, Human resources officer, campaign organiser, market research analyst, public policy research, marketing, PR (Public Relations) Officer

Travel, leisure and culture: heritage site management, tourist information, Department for culture, exhibitions coordinator, TV researcher

Geographical techniques: GIS specialist, Census data specialist, Cartographer, military GIS specialist, remote sensing analyst, CAD technician, aerial Surveyor


3 Year(s)

Next intake

September 2016

Places available

Typical places available

The School admits c111 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes.

Applications received

Typical applications received



QAA subject benchmark

QAA subject benchmark

Town and Country Planning

Overview and aims of this course/programme

This programme provides students with a comprehensive and critical understanding of Human Geography as well as opportunities to specialise in specific areas of the discipline such as cultural, economic, or development geography.

Students benefit from the School’s emphasis on the application of human geography to real-world contexts, particularly to policy-makers and the public, and have the opportunity to learn how the discipline informs elected decision-makers, helps the voluntary sector and seeks to improve civil society.

What should I know about year five?

Students are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on Dignity at Work and Study.

Although attendance at lectures and seminars is not mandatory, students are always encouraged by module leaders, course directors and personal tutors to engage fully with their taught programme. This facilitates learning in a classroom environment, and peer-to-peer learning outside the classroom

The School also provides additional guidance in the Student Handbook on ‘Working Together’. This sets out a series of standards and expectations on the school working together with students to ensure a successful learning environment.

How is this course/programme structured?

This is a full-time, 3-years degree. Full details of the Programme structures and requirements, courses and awards are given in the Student Handbook.

What should I know about year four?

Any equipment required will be provided by the School

What should I know about year three?

Students are able to develop a series of additional skills through:

a)     the opportunity to study in a Grade 5* rated Department

b)      the involvement of internationally reputed research active staff from a Geography background, and actively involvement in both scholarly and practitioner/policy networks

c)      a condensed but comprehensive coverage of Human Geography

d)     a well-resourced learning environment

e)      a well-develop IT strategy

f)       close links with policy  institutions, especially in Wales

g)      a field study visit (currently to Hong Kong) to explore issues in a real world case study, and deploy skills acquired through the degree into practice. 

What should I know about the preliminary year?

Students take modules summing to 120 credits in each year. First year modules do not count towards the final degree. Modules are assessed through a combination of coursework, class presentations, projects, and examinations undertaken at the end of the relevant semester. Coursework is submitted according to submission dates published in the Handbook, which also gives details of the criteria upon which assessment is based. 

What should I know about year one?


The assessment strategy derives from the CPLAN Learning, Teaching and Assessment strategy. It include a range of methods, examinations, essays, reports, project work, individual and group seminars, team presentations, and individual presentations. The variety of assessment techniques is designed to encourage the development of the range of expertise appropriate to graduates listed above; for example: ability to think under pressure and write succinctly (e.g. unseen examinations); ability to present pre-gathered material to an audience (e.g. oral and written class presentations), ability to work with others to a clearly defined theme (e.g. group projects) ability to develop research in depth and set out findings systematically (e.g. written coursework).

Core and option modules are accordingly assessed through differing combinations of unseen examinations, projects, class and group work, oral seminar presentations, coursework essays, and a dissertation.

Coursework essays will be of the following length (20 credit modules):

Where 25% of assessment is coursework – 1000 words

Where 50% of assessment is coursework – 2000 words

Where 100% of assessment is coursework – 4000 words

The precise balance of assessment techniques is given in the Schedule of Assessment, which is reproduced in the Student Handbook.

The dissertation is given double the normal weighting (40 credits).  It will be of 15,000 words.


Formative feedback is given in tutorials, discussion classes and problems classes as well as through individual written comments on coursework.

Other information

The School provides a range of facilities to support students in their studies, including:

a)      Student access to a dedicated 40 PC laboratory with high quality peripherals including network account laser printing, large format colour printing, A4 colour printing

b)      GIS facilities/workstation/access to Edina digimap mapping facility

c)      Dedicated computer technician

d)     Excellent library containing around 12,000 books, 280 journal titles, and growing stock (especially in Human Geography) thanks to annual investment of £90k p.a.

e)      Access to online journals and databases

f)       Well-structured personal tutor system enabling regular reviews of progress and understanding of obstacles to learning

g)      Written student feedback on assessments

h)      Support for those for whom English is not their first language

i)        The facility to undertake Assessments in the Welsh language if preferred

j)        An initial weekend at Gregynog to provide induction to the department and generate interaction through exploration of key current issues in Geography and Planning 

Distinctive features

The programme produces students with a scholarly awareness of geographical issues including economic, social, political, cultural and environmentalism specialisms. These outcomes are combined with critical skills in writing, researching and presenting complex materials, practical investigative skills in a range of qualitative and quantitative methods, which together provide an excellent basis for future employability or postgraduate study.

How will I be taught?


Admissions tutors

Dr Christopher Bear, Admissions Tutor

Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.


Get information and advice about making an application, find out when the key dates are and learn more about our admissions criteria.

How to apply
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