Geography

Director of Studies: Professor Sarah Radcliffe

Other Fellows in Geography: Professor Ash Amin

Length of course: 3 years

Number of students admitted each year: 3-4

Geography Faculty website

Cambridge Geography Prospectus entry
 

Introduction

Geography is one of the most exciting subjects to study at university, as it provides students with the means to understand interactions between the human, biosphere and physical-environmental processes at every scale from the urban neighbourhood through to globe-spanning chains of events. Geography’s insights and skills are increasingly relevant and sought after by a range of employers.  Undergraduate studies in Geography at Cambridge is one of the largest single-honours Departments of Geography in Britain: it has over 40 members of academic staff, and admits about 100 undergraduates to read Geography every year.

Geography at Cambridge involves undergraduates in a wide range of lectures, practical classes, skills training and field courses, organised around a three-year course (called the Geographical Tripos) which is divided into three parts, with an examination at the end of each year.

The course is taught through a mixture of University and College teaching. Lectures are run centrally by the Geography department and small group teaching (supervisions) are organised by the College Director of Studies. Your weekly work will usually revolve around producing an essay for each of your supervisions, along with lectures for the options you are taking.

First Year

In your first year you study for two examination papers, which correspond to physical and human geography. The main themes introduced at this stage run through the rest of the Tripos. There is no choice at this stage: we think it important for everyone to begin with the same basic grounding. This allows us to introduce you to new areas of the subject that you won't have met before and which you might want to study in more detail in your second or third year.

The course includes components on historical, economic, urban, cultural, political, social, physical and environmental Geography, and studies of earth and atmosphere, oceans and glaciers, along with a skills and methods course.

Second Year

In the second year, students currently begin to specialise (if they want to), but we expect them to maintain an interest in the discipline as a whole.  The students take a core compulsory paper, as well as three optional papers. The core paper ‘Living with Global Change’ covers topics including geophysical hazards, climate change, demographic change, nature-culture relations. Students then choose three papers from a range of papers, enabling some specialisation in human or physical geography, or the maintenance of a broad geographical training.  Human geography courses recently offered include Development; Economic Geography; and Citizenship, Cities and Civil Society. Physical geography courses recently offered include Biogeography; Glacial Processes; Remote Sensing and the Climate System; and The Costal System. Alongside these lecture courses, students continue with skills training and practicals.

Fieldwork

All students are currently expected to participate in a week long field class in the second year. Recent venues have included: Crete, Mallorca, Malta, the Algarve, Morocco and S E Spain. A piece of submitted work produced on the field class forms part of the assessment in the second year.

Third Year

In the third year you can choose whatever combination of papers you like, so that you can either specialise further or maintain a balance across the subject as a whole. You have to select four papers from those offered in a particular year, and you also have to research and write a dissertation of no less than 8,000 words and no more than 10,000 words: here too the choice of subject is up to you.

In the third year, twelve papers are offered in each year. The actual papers offered vary each year, but the following provide some examples of papers recently offered:

  • Geographies of the British Economy
  • The New Europe
  • Changing Cultures of Risk
  • Geographies of Postcolonialism
  • Volcanology
  • Quaternary Environments
  • Biosedimentary Coastal Systems
  • Food, Famine and Power
  • Environment, Society and Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa
     

Geography at Christ’s College

Christ’s College currently has two Fellows in Geography, Professor Sarah Radcliffe (who acts as Director of Studies) and Professor Ash Amin; both are also members of academic staff in the Department of Geography. Although Professors Amin and Radcliffe are specialists in human geography, the college welcomes applicants interested in physical geography.

Christ's offers strong tutorial support to its students as they pursue their academic work, and is able to offer accommodation for three years to all of its undergraduates. The College also provides a modern library, a theatre, sporting facilities, playing fields, social activities and clubs and societies open to all.
 

Student Profiles

Pascual, Elise and Rohan all study Geography here at Christ's College. They have written about their experiences of studying Geography in their student profiles:

If you would like to read more accounts from Christ's students, please see the student profiles page. The Geography department also has a page of more student profiles
 

How to Apply

Details and a timeline for the application process can be found on the how to apply page

Entry Requirements

Our typical offer is A*AA at A level including Geography, 42 points overall in the IB with 7,7,6 in Higher Level subjects including Geography, or comparable grades in other qualifications. If you are interested in the Geography course but do not / did not study Geography at this level, please email us for further advice.

There are no other specific A levels required, and a degree in Geography may be approached from an Arts, Sciences or Social Sciences background.

Pre-interview Admissions Assessment

All students applying to the University of Cambridge for Geography must sit a pre-interview admissions assessment called the Geography Admissions Assessment (GAA). This will take place in your school, college or local testing centre on 30 October 2019. The same assessment is used regardless of which College you have applied to. The Geography Admissions Assessment examines your academic abilities, knowledge-base and potential, and forms part of our holistic admissions process: there is no set score that we are looking for. When applying, it is important to be aware of the registration and assessment dates:

  • All Geography applicants applying in 2019 must be registered to take the Geography Admissions Assessment by 18:00 UK time on 15 October 2019. See how to be registered.
    Please note that open centres may set an earlier deadline for accepting entries, and it is your responsibility to check if this applies at your centre.
     
  • All Geography applicants applying in 2018 sit the assessment on 30 October 2019.

Information about the assessment including example papers and subject content is available on the University Admissions website from March each year.

Written work

After your application is received, you will be asked to send us one piece of work that you feel accurately reflect your abilities and interests. This should be work which has been prepared during the normal course of your studies and has already been marked by a teacher. We recommend that you keep a copy for your own reference as it may be discussed at interview. Full written work guidelines will be provided as part of the current applicants section on this website (published by 20 September each year).

Interviews

Applicants are interviewed in late November or December. There will be two interviews, one conducted by specialists in human geography and the other by specialists in physical geography. You will be asked to arrive a little while before one or both of your interviews when you will be given a short passage to read. Discussion in the following interview will focus on this passage. Further, more general information about interviews (including two useful films) is available in the Cambridge interviews section.

We also hold interviews in a number of locations overseas. If this may be relevant for you, please see the international students section

Offers

Christ's College does not have fixed quotas of places for different subjects and the exact numbers admitted in any one year will depend upon the strengths of the fields of applicants in various subjects. However, our aim is to admit around three or four students each year in Geography. 

Our typical conditional offer is A*AA at A-level including Geography, 42 points overall in the IB with 7,7,6 in Higher Level subjects including Geography, or comparable grades in other qualifications. 

The international students section has further information about typical offers for other qualifications. If you will have already finished school when you apply, please see the page for post-qualification applications
 

Resources

 

Further Information

If you are able to come to a College Open Day, we will be glad to tell you more about the College and the Geography course in person. If you are not able to come to an Open Day, we will be happy to answer any queries you may have that are not covered by the normal literature. Please address any such enquiries by e-mail to admissions@christs.cam.ac.uk.
 

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