Why study this course
High quality facilities
You will have access to the latest technologies in surveying and mapping equipment, chemical laboratories and laboratories with Geographic Information System (GIS).
Our excellent links to local organisations, such as Natural Resources Wales and the Severn Estuary Partnership, helps our students to find projects and placement opportunities.
From impressive mountains in the north to a biodiverse tidal estuary in the south, Wales is a playground for geographers with plenty of natural environments to explore.
Our planet is constantly evolving and reshaping itself. We need to understand the science behind physical processes and hazards like flooding and coastal erosion so we can adapt and find solutions to challenges we’ll face in the future.
On our Physical Geography course, you will explore how the Earth functions and learn about global hazards like volcanoes and landslides and investigate how landscapes evolve over time. You will study physical processes from across the world, from glacial processes to desertification. You will develop skills in mapping and research and get experience using industry-standard equipment and software.
Students on this course are usually interested in the physical world around us and want to use their knowledge and understanding to make a positive difference. Graduates leave with the skills to solve a range of complex real-world problems related to the physical environment and with experience of hands-on fieldwork and cutting-edge research with world-leading scientists.
We make the most of our location and take regular day trips along the coast and to the Brecon Beacons in South Wales. There will also be opportunities to go on overseas field trips, in the past we have taken our geography students to Switzerland.
On this four-year programme, you can spend one academic year studying at one of our partner universities abroad. Studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity to experience other cultures and viewpoints, learning the different styles and approaches to your subject in another country and exploring new physical environments, landscapes and coastlines. You will get the chance to make new friends and contacts from around the world. Plus, you will have the opportunity to develop a wealth of life skills and strengths that will help you to compete in an increasingly global workplace, such as adaptability, resourcefulness, and resilience.
Our Regrow Borneo project allows you to offset your flight’s carbon emissions by making an affordable donation to support our tree-planting project in the Lower Kinabatangan rainforest, Sabah, Borneo.
ABB-BBB (with 1 science subject) or BBB-BBC (with 2 science subjects). Acceptable science subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Maths, Physics.
Extended/International Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ/IPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.
The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.
32-31 overall or 665 in 3 HL subjects (with 1 HL science subject) or 31-30 overall or 665-655 in 3 HL subjects (with 2 HL science subjects). Acceptable science subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Maths, Physics.
DDM-DMM in a BTEC Extended Diploma in Animal Science, Applied Science, Health Science, ICT, or Sports and Exercise Science.
Other UK qualifications may also be accepted, often in lieu of A-levels, but subject requirements must be met. If you are offering non-UK qualifications, our qualification equivalences guide should allow you to calculate what kind of offer you are likely to receive.
Please be aware that this is a general guide, and that some programmes may have more detailed or specific entry requirements which will be reflected in your offer.
Grade C or grade 4 in GCSE English Language.
At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each subskill.
At least 90 overall with minimum scores of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading and 20 for speaking.
At least 62 overall with a minimum of 59 in all communicative skills.
Trinity ISE II/III
II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.
Other accepted qualifications
Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.
You must have or be working towards:
- English language or Welsh language at GCSE grade C/4 or an equivalent (such as A-levels). If you require a Tier 4 visa, you must ensure your language qualification complies with UKVI requirements.
- GCSE Maths grade C/4 or equivalent qualification (subject and grade). If you are taking A-level Maths (or equivalent), GCSE Maths is not required. Core Maths may also be accepted in place of GCSE Maths.
We do not accept Critical Thinking, General Studies, Citizenship Studies, or other similar equivalent subjects.
We will accept a combination of BTEC subjects, A-levels, and other qualifications, subject to the course specific grade and subject requirements.
You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course. If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:
- access to computers or devices that can store images
- use of internet and communication tools/devices
- freedom of movement
- contact with people related to Cardiff University.
Please see our admissions policies for more information about the application process.
Students from the UK
Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland
If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national, unless you qualify for UK fee status, tuition fees will be in line with the fees charged for international students. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.
Students from the rest of the world (international)
Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.
Costs for sandwich years
During a sandwich year (e.g. year in industry, placement year or year abroad) a lower fee will apply. Full details can be found on our fees pages.
The fieldwork costs for your core modules are included but you will need to contribute towards food if it is provided during the trip. You will need to pay for any optional fieldwork modules. The cost of these trips will be capped at an amount determined by the School.
You will pay 15% of the usual Cardiff University fees during your year of study abroad. You will also need to pay for your living costs while abroad, which may include health insurance costs. Further additional costs include travel and visa application fees. Financial support is available. Under the present system, students remain eligible for Student Finance for overseas placements. The Global Opportunities Centre also currently provides a bursary to assist with some of the costs associated with an overseas placement. Full details will be confirmed when you are considering your year of study abroad options.
We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.
We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.
This is a four-year full-time degree. In your first year you will study core modules and get a strong foundation in physical geography. In year two and four there are core and optional modules so you have some flexibility to choose to study the areas that you’re interested in. Your third year is spent studying at a partner university in another country.
The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2022/23 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2022.
|Module title||Module code||Credits|
|World of Dynamic Environments||EA1300||20 credits|
|Exploring Planet Earth||EA1301||20 credits|
|GIS, Maps and Analytical Skills||EA1303||20 credits|
|Geography Field Skills||EA1305||20 credits|
|Understanding the Living Planet||EA1308||20 credits|
|Fundamentals of Geographical Science||EA1309||20 credits|
Year three: Sandwich year
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.
Learning and assessment
We are a friendly and informal school and you will be taught by world-leading experts involved in cutting-edge international research.
Our teaching approach is a mix of theory and practical and includes: lectures, laboratory work, fieldwork, tutorials, workshops and seminars. You will also be encouraged to learn independently and within groups throughout the course, developing a wide range of skills which will be essential for your future employment including project management and organisational skills as well as developing your competence in applying information technology and using state-of-the-art field techniques and equipment.
How you will be taught during your year of study abroad will depend on the host institution. All our overseas partners are of at least a comparable standard to Cardiff University and the partnership goes through a rigorous approval process. You will look in detail at teaching methods in your host institution and discuss these with the School Director of International as part of your application process and Study Abroad learning agreement.
How will I be supported?
At the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor who you will meet with regularly for tutorials. Tutorials are fortnightly in the first year and then monthly in year two and four. Your Personal Tutor can offer advice on academic and personal matters. In year four you will also be allocated a supervisor for your dissertation project.
Academic support for the year of study abroad will be provided to you during your second year by the Director of International for the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and planning support by colleagues at the Global Opportunities Centre. Advice regarding choice of university, aims of the year, academic regulations and module choice will be given by the Director of International, who will be available to discuss ideas, concerns and issues with you..
The School Director of International works closely with the Global Opportunities Centre to support you in applying to the host university, provide advice on finances, visas and all the practical arrangements involved in studying abroad. Global Opportunities will organise a pre-departure session and provide you with a pre-departure pack which will includes an informative guide. Members of staff from the Global Opportunities Centre will happily answer any questions you may have.
The School Director of International will meet with you to review and agree your courses abroad as part of signing off your Study Abroad Learning Agreement. This will give you the opportunity to review the teaching, learning outcomes and assessment methods at the partner university and we will ensure these are appropriate for you as a Cardiff University student. If there are assessment methods that are new to you, we will support you in being prepared for this.
A requirement of the Year of Study Abroad module is that you complete an online reflective journal and meet to discuss this monthly with your Personal Tutor. This provides a structured and required monthly meeting with your Cardiff University Personal Tutor to allow you to review your study progress and for any concerns or needs to be raised and addressed. You can also contact your Personal Tutor or the Director of International as and when needed. You will have access to the full Cardiff University online resources and Student Support Services while abroad. The comprehensive support services of the Students’ Union are also available to you throughout.
The School Director of International will work with you and with their contact at the Partner Institution to resolve any issues with the partner Institution itself, drawing on support from Global Opportunities where there are University-wide partnerships, as appropriate.
All partner universities are of similar standing to the Cardiff School Earth and Environmental Sciences, and have mechanisms for academic and pastoral support, so you will be additionally supported through the academic and pastoral care arrangements of your host university.
We have a Learning Central website where you can access videos, images, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, links to further reading, electronic exercises and discussion circles. Where possible, lectures will be recorded so you can watch and study in your own time.
The Learning Central website also has a ‘Personal Development Planning’ module that supports you in regularly assessing your progress and meeting your development needs.
The University offers a range of services including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service, alongside excellent libraries and resource centres.
We aim to create an inclusive, supportive and welcoming environment that respects the dignity of staff and students of all ages, ethnicities, disabilities, family structures, genders, nationalities, sexual orientations, races, religious or other beliefs, and socio-economic backgrounds. Read about our commitment to the Athena SWAN principles and our Bronze status (https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/earth-environmental-sciences/about-us/equality-diversity-and-inclusivity).
What skills will I practise and develop?
The Learning Outcomes for this Programme describe what you will be able to do as a result of your study at Cardiff University. They will help you to understand what is expected of you.
The Learning Outcomes for this Programme can be found below:
Knowledge & Understanding:
On successful completion of the entire Programme students will be able to demonstrate the following:
- a systematic understanding of spatial and temporal processes relating to a earth system processes, including a broad critical comprehension of the inter-relationships between these at a range of scales
- a broad understanding of global challenges including risks and hazards associated with earth system processes, including approaches to the governance of these
- a systematic understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of Physical Geography, including its content, methods and philosophy, and an associated practical understanding of the need for integration of knowledge from cognate sciences, including those related to ocean, atmospheric, physical and environmental sciences
On successful completion of the entire Programme students will be able to demonstrate the following :
- Debate, interpret and explain the causes and scales of contemporary and future earth system processes whilst critically applying relevant ideas, concepts and methods
- Collect, collate, synthesise and critically evaluate a wide variety of Physical Geography data and information, drawing from relevant approaches in cognate areas of science
- Evaluate current research in selected aspects of Physical Geography, demonstrating an appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of associated scientific understanding
- Work across disciplines to link knowledge and experience from allied sciences to understand earth system processes
Professional Practical Skills:
On successful completion of the entire Programme students will be able to demonstrate the following:
- Critically analyse and interpret a range of different types of data related to the physical geography research processes to investigate a range of topical earth surface topics and theoretical concepts.
- Plan, design and execute research related to physical geography, critically using a range of qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis in field, offshore, laboratory and desk-based studies
- Understand and apply methods used to acquire geospatial data and represent such data in appropriate cartographic and graphic formats using appropriate platforms, including GIS
- Address research problems involving the integration and analysis of diverse and often incomplete and uncertain data using appropriate qualitative and quantitative methodologies and approaches
- Demonstrate practical skills and competence in information technology, geographical information systems, cartographic, statistical and other analytical techniques
- Undertake effective project management and organisational skills through independent working and team work.
- Understand and the practical limitations, logistics, safety and ethical aspects of data gathering in various environments, and apply this understanding, as appropriate to applied research
On successful completion of the entire Programme students will be able to demonstrate the following:
- The flexibility, resilience, open-mindedness and ability to approach a subject from different perspectives, that can be gained in the year of study abroad.
- An ability to effectively communication of knowledge, ideas and arguments in a variety of formats using oral, written, and visual media to both specialist and non-specialist audiences
- An ability to work competently individually or as part of a team in both problem-setting and problem-solving within a range of applied research environments where decision-making is complex and multi-disciplinary
- An ability to undertake independent study and personal scholarship, fostered through enhanced personal responsibility, initiative and self-learning experiences
- An understanding of the skills and competencies needed to secure employment and support ongoing professional development, and be able to apply this to self-reflect, assess and articulate individual employability skills and needs
Careers and placements
With the planet under increasing pressure from climate change and a changing landscape, the knowledge and skills of a physical geographer are in demand. You can use your understanding of the Earth’s processes to find sustainable solutions to many of the complex challenges we face today and in the future.
You can choose to work in a variety of different industries and roles in government, government agencies or consultancies including working as a technical specialist or a geospatial analyst. You will also have employable skills that sectors like insurance, finance, education and planning are looking for.
Some of our past students have gone on to work at the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, local government, environmental consultancies and environmental charities.
95% of the School's first-degree graduates were in employment and/or further study, due to start a new job or course, or doing other activities such as travelling, 15 months after the end of their course (Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18).
Contains HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2020. The Higher Education Statistics Agency cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data.
Yes. The opportunity to undertake a study placement in year three at a partner institution in another country. In recent years, study has been available at universities in the USA, Canada, Australia, Sweden and the Netherlands.
HESA data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2020. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18, published by HESA in June 2020.