Department of Geography
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You are viewing this course for 2023-24 entry. 2024-25 entry is also available.
- A Levels AAA
Other entry requirements
- UCAS code F804
- 4 years / Full-time
- September start
- Find out the course fee
- Optional placement year
- Study abroad
On our four-year physical geography course with an integrated masters, you’ll examine patterns and processes in the natural environment and learn how to tackle contemporary global issues such as climate change, environmental pollution and rising sea levels. You’ll develop your understanding of these changes in the context of the diverse, intricate interactions between Earth-system components.
Integral to your degree is field-based learning, independent research and technical training. We use the space around us as our living laboratory: you'll spend time learning in Sheffield and exploring the Peak District National Park during field classes. We'll show you how to use geospatial techniques such as computer programming and satellite observations, and how to use Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to observe and monitor the Earth.
The first three years follow the same structure as the BSc Geography. In your fourth year, you'll carry out your own advanced research project as part of an active research group. You'll benefit from the expertise of a network of academics and you'll have the chance to develop your professional and research skills.
This MGeogSci will give you the specialist, practical and transferable skills you’ll need for your future career. Typically our physical geography graduates progress to careers in research, sustainability, meteorology, environmental consultancy, GIS analysis, business, policy and government.
This programme has been accredited by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). Accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in geographical knowledge and skills, and prepare graduates to address the needs of the world beyond higher education. The accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from accredited programmes meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including subject knowledge, technical ability and transferable skills.
A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.
Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:
UCAS code: F804
Years: 2022, 2023
- Living with Environmental Change
This module will introduce students to a wide range of critical environmental issues facing the world today from physical science and social science perspectives. Using a range of environmental problems evident in the Global North and Global South (such as climate change, habitat loss, water resources, land-use change, agriculture), the physical and social processes implicated will be examined. Drawing on a range of examples, students will critically explore the causes, consequences, management and solutions to environmental issues and learn how to question assumptions about environmental processes.20 credits
- Why Geography Matters
Geography helps us plan for the future by investigating social and physical processes as they interconnect from the past through to the present. Geographers actively contribute to contemporary debates across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. We address some of the most pressing issues facing the modern world linking to social justice and environmental change. Serving as a bridge between the general introductory modules, and the more specialist modules taught at levels 2 and 3, this module provides an opportunity for students to engage with topical issues in contemporary human and physical geography led by academics actively engaged in cutting edge research who are informing real world policy and practice. The module provides a challenging but accessible insight into the origins of the discipline and how these translate into the cutting edge of contemporary geographical research, and how this helps us understand and contribute to our changing world. The module will also begin to highlight for students how knowledge is always produced and reflective of those who produce it in ways that reinforce the positionality of some and silence others.20 credits
The following particular skills will be achieved in this module: exchanging knowledge; networking; emotional intelligence; inclusivity; positive mindset; innovation; commercial awareness.
- Geographical Skills, Methods and Techniques
Geographers are well-known for having a versatile set of practical and transferable skills. This module teaches students key research methods from across the discipline. Small tutorials, run by academic staff, are used to develop skills in finding, presenting, analysing, and critically evaluating complex information. Lectures introduce students to Geographical Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing, questionnaire design, statistics, and in-depth interviewing. Workshops provide the chance to practice skills and get to grips with industry-standard software. Finally, fieldwork experience provides hand-on training in key methods used in the field.40 credits
- Earth, Wind, Ice and Fire
This module introduces the general principles of physical geography for students with diverse backgrounds. We will use a systems-based approach to physical geography to examine several key environmental systems, including the geosphere, atmosphere, and the cryosphere. It will include explanation of key interactions between physical systems and discussion of the impacts and consequences of system alterations, such as climate change, over time and space. The course will introduce concepts of geomorphology to investigate the landforms of the earth; mountains, valleys, slopes, riverbeds, and dunes, leading to the consideration of landscape and landform development over varying temporal and spatial scales.20 credits
- Exploring Human Geographies
The module provides an introduction to key principles, relations and processes that contribute to a diverse array of social, cultural, economic and environmental aspects of human geography. It looks at spatial patterns of power, inequality and interdependence produced by economic and cultural globalisation, how we experience these at the local scale and and how they have changed over time. It outlines key concepts and current debates shaping how human geographers approach these issues by drawing on examples from around the world and at a variety of geographical scales. It highlights the value of a geographical perspective on the world we live in.20 credits
- Cities and Inequality
The main aim of Cities and Inequality is to introduce you to our urban condition in a global context, with particular attention to the multiple forms of inequality that pervade urban life. Drawing on a wide range of expertise within the Department, we will introduce you to a range of key issues in contemporary urban studies and help you to understand more about the roots of urban problems and questions of social differentiation and injustice in a range of global urban contexts. The course also aims to develop students' capacity for comparative urban analysis10 credits
- Housing and Home
Issues relating to housing, homes, streets and neighbourhoods that we live in are in the news every day. Whether this is over concerns about housing shortages, affordability, housing bubbles, 'generation rent', social housing, housing evictions, Covid lockdown, city-centre housing, DIY and 'grand designs', or debates about the domestic sphere, 'home as a haven', 'benefit streets', flooding and shack settlements, housing is often at the centre of social science research. This module aims to introduce students to this broad and diverse subject by drawing on the expertise of staff who research across these multiple themes. The module focuses on contemporary concerns, while maintaining an appreciation of the impact of historical trends (e.g. the Global Financial Crisis of 2007/8). The module will make use of cases from the UK and abroad to illustrate trends, arguments and challenges. The module introduced students to various concepts and debates relating to housing, as well as indicating the linkages to housing and urban policy.10 credits
Students can also take approved modules from other departments, such as:
This course is an introduction to the scientific study of animals. Students will explore the wonders of the animal kingdom through investigations of the physiology, reproduction, development, form and function of a wide diversity of both invertebrates and vertebrates. Students will learn through lectures and videos, practicals and independent study.20 credits
- Climate Change and Sustainability
This course introduces the core scientific issues required to understand climate change and sustainability. Students will learn the causes of climate change, its impacts in natural and agricultural ecosystems, the influence of biogeochemical cycles in these ecosystems on climate, and strategies for sustainably managing ecosystems in future. Learning will be achieved via lectures and videos, practicals and independent study.20 credits
- Ecology and Conservation
This module is an introduction to the principles of ecology and conservation. It covers ecological concepts about the factors controlling the abundance and distribution of species, coexistence and biodiversity at multiple geographic scales. It combines this with key ideas from tropical and marine communities about conserving populations, communities and habitats. The module includes lectures, a lab practical, an introduction to mathematical modelling in conservation biology and a field trip to Potteric Carr, a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve where you'll put into practice by collecting data to test some of the ideas you've learned in class.20 credits
- History and Culture in China
This module explores what it means to study China at university level, and considers how 'area studies' research on China fits within disciplines such as history and cultural studies. We will consider how histories and cultural understandings of China are built with the following in mind: how researchers use primary evidence such as texts, documents and/or images to understand social change; and how to navigate key debates in a field and evaluate competing arguments. You will finish this module with a deeper understanding of our core topic and the disciplinary approaches that frame it, and a foundation in critical research and writing skills that you can apply and develop in further study.20 credits
We will work on a combination of new and established research to explore one core topic: In 2022-2023 we will explore the history of twentieth-century Shanghai as seen from the grassroots.
- Climate Action
Humans are altering the climate, with significant impacts on livelihoods, wellbeing, equality, and the environment across the globe. While international organisations and governments are crucial in mitigating and adapting to these threats, individual and small group collective action are also essential in creatively exploring how the necessary changes can be realistically and equitably implemented.10 credits
This module uses the community linked to the University as a Living Lab. Focusing on one aspect of daily life in which there is potential for more mitigation or better adaptation, you will identify and plan an investigation or intervention (a 'project') to take a step towards more or better climate action. You will need to justify your choices by elaborating what you would consider success, how you would deliver it, as well as assessing the impact of its wider implementation.
- Geographical Information Systems and Earth Observation
This module introduces Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Earth Observation (EO) – both crucial tools to understand the earth system. GIS are computer systems for the storage, display and manipulation of geographical data. Earth Observation is the collection of information about Earth’s geo-biophysical properties through the detection and interpretation of electromagnetic radiation (often satellite imagery). The module will provide you with a theoretical framework and hands-on experience of using EO and GIS software and data, thus improving your digital fluency and capability. You will also improve your problem solving skills and develop resilience by tackling a range of practical applications of EO and GIS in research and industry.10 credits
- Analysing Geographical Data
Data is everywhere, it is generated constantly and in such vast amounts. As geographers it is therefore important for us to understand how such data is generated and whether we can harness any to tell us more about the world. Vital aspects of this include our knowledge of data processing, handling, and statistical or mathematical analysis. This module will guide you through a sample of the vast array of data types that we as geographers have available to us. In particular, how we handle its collection and processing, from sources such as census data all the way to volcanic activity and everything in between. You will enhance your knowledge of programs such as Excel alongside gaining essential experience with industry standard programs SPSS and Matlab.10 credits
- Research Design and Fieldclass for BSc Geography and Environmental Science
The ability to design, conduct, analyse and present meaningful findings from fieldwork is an essential part of degree-level Physical Geography and Environmental Science, and enhances employability. This module addresses the philosophical background to, and the process of, designing and conducting fieldwork. The module introduces the principles of research design and provides practical experience of fieldwork to facilitate immersive learning and engagement with earth surface processes. The module is delivered through lectures, small-group teaching, and a residential fieldclass. Assessments provide ongoing feedback linked to the experience of designing, conducting and reflecting upon the research journey, culminating in a dissertation proposal.20 credits
- Sustainable Development and Global Justice
Development in the Global South is a major issue of international concern in the 21st century. This module explores contemporary development issues and examines the contribution that geographers, and geographical thought, can make towards understanding inequality, poverty and socio-economic change. Definitions of 'development', 'poverty' and 'the poor' shift and are invested with political meaning which reflect specific geographies and ways of seeing the world: students develop critical understandings of such terminology and the power dynamics implicit within them. This module addresses diverse theories, paradigms and contemporary critiques of development, and explores some of the central issues affecting processes of development. Case examples are drawn from Latin America, Africa and South-East Asia.20 credits
- Understanding the Climate System
In order to understand global climate change, one first has to understand how the climate system works. This module will give students a strong understanding of the global climate system, focusing on the atmospheres, the oceans, and their interaction. The first part of the module will consider the main characteristics of, and processes behind, climate from the global to the local scale. The second part of the module will examine the physical characteristics of the oceans and their geographical variation, and the role of the oceans in the climate system.20 credits
- Culture, Space and Difference
This research-led module introduces students to the cutting edge of Social and Cultural Geography and dovetails with the Sheffield Geography Department’s Culture, Space and Difference research group. The module illustrates the diversity and vitality of contemporary social and cultural geography including some of the philosophical concepts and theoretical debates that have shaped the subject. The module aims to deepen and enrich the ways in which students are able to think about geographical issues, through a critical understanding of concepts and approaches that underpin the substance and methods of contemporary human geography. The module team work with students to develop their own ‘photo essays’ - which bring the ideas of the module to students’ experiences from everyday life.20 credits
- Understanding Dynamic Landscapes
This module looks at the relationship between geomorphological processes and Earth surface landforms and landscapes at a variety of scales in space and time. It examines the influence of endogenic (mainly tectonic) processes originating within the earth; and exogenic processes (notably wind and water) at the Earth's surface. The module starts by introducing geomorphological concepts; and frameworks, and later introduces field and analytical approaches (such as landscape dating and numerical modelling) that are used to elucidate process rates and their drivers. A field visit and two practical exercises provide hands-on appreciation of approaches to understanding hillslope, fluival and aeolian processes.20 credits
- Environmental Pollution and Quality
This module aims to introduce the students to the origins, pathways and consequences of pollutants in the environment, their control and remediation. Pollutants are released into the environment through anthropogenic activities that include domestic, leisure and industrial practices. These pollutants are potentially harmful to the ecosystem and human health. Therefore, an understanding of the physical, chemical and biological processes involved during the contamination of water and soil is essential to protect the environment. This module provides an introduction on how to assess and quantify pollutants by using laboratory techniques for the determination of contamination in water and soil.20 credits
- Territory, Power and Policy
The module introduces you to contemporary debates within political geography. You will develop a detailed understanding of political processes at a variety of spatial scales, from the international, national to the local, from collective politics to individual political behaviour. You will explore questions of power, efficacy and conflict with an emphasis on the spatial and place-specific aspects of politics in relation to issues including: geopolitics and international relations; the state and territoriality; the politics of nationalism and citizenship; civic activism; and individual political participation.20 credits
- Who Gets What? Social Justice and the Environment
Environmental issues continue to be a key area of contemporary public concern and current political debate. They raise fundamental questions about the relationship between society and environment, and the politics and equity of that relationship. This module provides a geographical introduction to these issues and debates with examples from a range of scales from the global to the local. It also considers the role of stakeholders and how they benefit or are disadvantaged by policy that seeks to address issues to do with the environment-society relationship. The module then develops these core ideas through inter-related sections covering debates focused on different empirical themes.20 credits
- Unlocking Past Environmental Changes
The landscape we live in is a dynamic place and has been in the past as well. Huge changes at a global, regional and local scale have occurred in the last 2.6 million years of the earth's history (Quaternary period). These changes are ongoing with implications for both present and future environments. Methods and techniques to investigate past environmental changes are outlined and illustrated. The module also looks at how environments have responded to past climate changes thereby putting a context for present day climate changes and predicting future changes.20 credits
This module will help improve your academic writing, study, numeracy and data handling skills. It will also help you to be able to critically evaluate issues and problems as well as think about sustainability.
- Glacial Processes and Hazards
On this module students are introduced to how glaciers and ice sheets work and the connection of many glacial processes to hazards experienced by communities in polar and high altitude environments. We examine how glaciers and ice sheets come into existence through an understanding of climate and the concept of glacier mass balance. We then consider how glacier systems function, covering topics that include the processes of ice flow, the drainage of glacial melt, and the behaviour of ice streams and ice shelves. We then examine how glaciers modify landscape through processes of erosion and sediment transport and deposition. Hazards are explored in relation to each key area of glacier system function, from localised flood events associated with glacier-lake drainages to global sea level changes arising from past and potential future ice sheet instability.20 credits
- Urban Culture and Conflict: The Making of Modern Cities
Cities are sites of social conflict and cultural production. The links between these two facets of modern urban experience have long fascinated scholars seeking to understand the cultural history of the urban imagination. In this module you will explore different ways artists, intellectuals, political activists, ordinary people and other thinkers have sought to understand and explain various experiences of and conflicts over urban life. You will learn to situate the relationships between sensory perceptions, aesthetic judgments and power relations in their own place and time. This module will draw from historical, cultural, social, and political geographies as well as other disciplines to engage with the shifting nature and spatiality of these relationships through case studies of selected cities, the particular changes in urban culture they occasioned, contemporary responses to those changes, and the theoretical debates they inspired. Key topics will include urban form and architecture, cultural difference and social inequality, representational practices and bodily experiences, and the overall consciousness of change in cities over the past two centuries.20 credits
Students can also take approved modules from other departments, such as:
- Conservation Principles and Realities
This module introduces students to conservation biology as a scientific but inter-disciplinary subject. Module content discusses conservation objectives, key tools, underlying concepts and principles, and approaches to devising management solutions to reduce adverse impacts of human activity on biodiversity. We use case studies and examples from a wide range of terrestrial and marine ecosystems in tropical and temperate environments, including the UK.20 credits
Teaching methods focus on lectures and interactive practical sessions.
Assessment is via a multiple choice exam (to test breadth of knowledge across the module) and a coursework essay (to test depth of knowledge).
- Environment and Development of the Japanese Islands
This module takes geographical, ecological, socio-cultural and political-economic perspectives in charting the emergence of Japan as the world's first non-Western developed country. Beginning with Japan's geological formation in pre-history and ending with a speculative enquiry into the state of Japan in 2100, the module assesses the human and ecological consequences of Japan's development within the country's Asian, Pacific, and global contexts.20 credits
- Urban Analytics
This module will serve as an introduction to quantitative and spatial analytical methods, with a specific focus on understanding, interpreting and presenting secondary data in urban contexts. It will expose students to a variety of substantive issues surrounding the use of data in practice and enhance their understanding of methods used in real world policy settings. Students will access and use a range of different datasets, covering demographics, property, and land use and will analyse them using both spatial and aspatial methods. They will be required to demonstrate competence in accessing, analysing and presenting such data using both aspatial and spatial methods in order to gain a deeper understanding of key issues facing urban settings.20 credits
- Ecosystems and Sustainability in a Changing World
Human impacts on the world's ecosystems are profound and without precedent in Earth's history. The urgent need to understand the impacts of anthropogenic climate change, land-use change and overexploitation has meant that ecosystem science has become one of the most important biological disciplines. Knowledge developed within this discipline has also become vital for devising strategies in sustainable agriculture. This module will build on the L1 module 'Climate change and sustainability' by exploring human impacts on marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and their feedback on climate change, including those in agricultural ecosystems. It will cover the world's and the UK's major ecosystems, considering fundamental processes operating in the present and the past. In doing so, it will consider the interacting roles of energy, carbon cycling, climate, soils, nutrients, fire and biodiversity.20 credits
Teaching methods include lectures, alongside field excursions and interactive practical sessions that develop skills in the ecological analysis of plants and soils, and will reinforce some of the key concepts taught in lectures.
Assessment is via a multiple choice exam (to test breadth of knowledge across the module) and a coursework essay (to test depth of knowledge).
- Dissertation for Geography and Environmental Science
This module requires the student to prepare, organise, research and report a piece of original work on a geographical topic under guidance by a staff mentor. The student will decide on the topic and will either be expected to collect original material in order to investigate it, or to perform secondary analysis on information drawn from existing sources. The finished product is presented in the style, and at the length, associated with academic journal articles.40 credits
- Advanced Geospatial Analysis
This module will give students the opportunity to extend their knowledge of geospatial systems and software through detailed instruction and targeted case studies. The course will be taught in three parts, and will involve a mixture of lab-work and lectures. The three key themes are: (a) Digital Terrain Models (DTM) from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Structure from Motion (SfM) Photogrammetry, (b) Mapping of glacial bedforms from DTM data. Lab sessions will enhance software, coding and quantitative skills. Where possible, sessions will include student-led components and formative peer-peer assessment elements which will provide the opportunity to develop a range of generic analytical skills.20 credits
In taking this module you will further develop your problem solving skills and develop further resilience through tackling a specific practical application of geospatial analysis that is relevant to research and industry.
- Applied Volcanology
Volcanoes are an enigmatic force of nature. Understanding the way they behave and how they are monitored is a key aspect in hazard assessment. The module will cover a range of topics related to volcano monitoring, underpinned by an overview of the current state-of-the-art in volcanic science. In particular, the module will combine a theoretical basis of understanding for ground-based and satellite-based volcano monitoring capabilities with practical applications. Via lectures, lab practicals, and field-based activities, students will benefit from hands-on operation of monitoring equipment through to processing and interpretation.20 credits
- Lake District Fieldclass
The ability to apply knowledge of physical processes and research approaches to understand a particular environment is a key geographical skill. This module aims to provide experience in process interpretation, focusing on the physical processes that have shaped the Lake District. The module will comprise a 5-day UK residential field class to the Lake District National Park and will cover a range of topics that complement and extend knowledge acquired on the BSc Physical Geography programme, including glaciology, geology, climatology, landscape dynamics and environmental science. You will be given the opportunity to develop field and research abilities, including in research design, problem solving, field data collection and interpretation and science communication. The fieldwork will also help you to develop autonomy, resilience, and to work effectively with others. Evening lectures during the fieldtrip will provide relevant background. Small group follow-up sessions will be used to support the presentation of research findings in a science communication piece.20 credits
To attend this field class you will need to select this module as an option during Online Module Choice for Continuing Students (held in May). After this we will make bookings based on these numbers and so you cannot Add this module during the Add/Drop window in Level 3. Likewise, although the trip is free, if you pull out after this date you might be subject to any cancellation fee we incur.
- Landscape Evolution
The complex distribution and form of Earth's topography is the product of both surface and tectonic processes, including interactions with climate at local, regional and global scales. Geomorphological processes and rates are influenced by interactions between these factors, as are the geological and geomorphological hazards in different regions. Informed by on-going research by department staff, this module will deepen understanding of (i) the nature and geomorphological implications of global physical processes that has been developed at levels 1 to 2, (ii) the chronological processes used to constrain contemporary and past landscape evolution, and (iii) the landscape development over a range of timescales and hazard implications of these processes. The module will involve consideration of a range of landscapes and the key controls on their evolution and development.20 credits
- Employing Geography Skills in Sustainability and Social Justice
This module enables students to consolidate and apply the skills gained through their Geography or Environmental Science degree to real-world challenges. These challenges, based around themes of sustainability and social justice, will be identified by stakeholders within the University. Students will work as a team to: scope the issues; identify solutions, and; communicate them to the stakeholders. As well as consolidating their subject skills, they will further their collaboration, project planning, problem solving and communication skills. Through reflection and employability-related exercises embedded throughout the module they will be able to improve their self-awareness, identify their skills and attributes, and be able to confidently articulate these to employers and further study providers.20 credits
- Democracy and Citizenship: Dilemmas and Tensions
This module explores how a geographical approach helps us to analyse issues such as controversial election results, divisive immigration policies, and contentious social activism. The two key concepts of democracy and citizenship are used to engage with contemporary debates and theories to draw out the links between geography, policy and society, and the ways in which these are shaped and responded to by citizens, communities, civil society, and political parties. The module emphasises the critical appraisal and interpretation of a variety of perspectives - including our own. Particular attention is paid to the ways in which these interactions are played out across and through multiple scales, from the global to our everyday lives.20 credits
- Confronting the Anthropocene
As we face the profound challenges represented by the Anthropocene, this module explores critical and controversial debates about environmental and ecological issues. Using a range of examples of research from a variety of different countries this module develops a critical geographical approach to understanding environmental controversies, and to the claim that we are living in the Anthropocene. Examples will be drawn from a range of issues like biodiversity, waste and disease, and we will work with concepts like resilience, systems and practices.20 credits
- Consumption and Sustainability
In this module we critically engage both ‘consumption’ and ‘sustainability’ and work with key debates and approaches that help us to understand what produces and maintains patterns of consumption. We will examine some key debates about material culture and mass consumption. The module studies the social relationships which come together around consumption at a variety of scales, from the body and the home to the national and the trans-national. What can different current approaches tell us about how we can move towards sustainable and socially just patterns of consumption while enjoying a good life?20 credits
- Geoscientific Data Analysis using MATLAB
Matlab® is a computing environment and programming language with over one million users worldwide. It is used to process, analyse and visualise geoscientific data, but also has many less scientific uses; it can be used to edit digital photos and listen to online music. This module will introduce students to Matlab® by way of specific real-world examples taken from Geoscience topics using freely-available data. Initially the module will introduce students to the basics of using Matlab® before focussing on five broad topics relevant to Geoscience. At each stage, theory will be accompanied by easy to understand practical problem solving examples, with the code used for the examples made available to students. Assessment will comprise computer practicals and a data analysis project; the focus of which will be chosen by each student from a range of topics, but which must use Matlab® to analyse and present data. This module will equip students with a valuable transferable skill - the ability to use a programming language to obtain/generate, analyse and present geoscientific data thus improving their digital fluency and capability.20 credits
- Urban Exploration
This module offers students a chance to explore urban geographies from new angles, which emphasise creative, experimental and subversive ways of seeing and doing geography. Through readings and seminars, students will be exposed to experimental fieldwork ideas and methods. This module will include a residential fieldclass in a UK city, during which time students will conduct individual fieldwork projects, whilst also engaging with fieldwork collectively.20 credits
To attend this field class you will need to select this module by the end of the first Add/Drop period in Semester 1 (i.e., by the end of Week 2). After this point we will close the module to new students, and if you Drop this module at a later date, you might be subject to any cancellation fee we incur.
- Challenging Development
The aim of this module is to critically examine the development process within a global context, drawing on examples from developed and developing nations. Attention is given to the different ways in which we in the West understand 'development', and how we can reflect more critically on our position, and the power relations within this process. Drawing on debates within development geography, and other disciplines, the course is structured around three themes: the development industry, the poverty agenda and the local-global nexus. Topics covered may include: neoliberalism and state governance, humanitarian intervention, gender and empowerment, protests and social movements, corporate social responsibility, participation and empowerment, local forms of resistance, environmental action and change.20 credits
- The Planets
This module introduces the student to the fascinating discipline of planetary geoscience and exploration. By using the principles of Physical Geography to study unfamiliar environments, we will explore problems that touch upon themes from climate, tectonics, geomorphology, hydrology, and life. The module begins with the Solar System but soon focuses on planetary-scale matters, using the terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) as main examples because of an explosion of knowledge gathered from their observation. We will consider the new perspectives that such knowledge offers on the Earth's dynamic systems.20 credits
- Our Frozen Planet
In this research-led module, students will explore current and former frozen parts of our planet, gaining a detailed understanding of the following typical themes: The processes that govern how glaciers and ice sheets work; How numerical models are used to forecast glacier and ice sheet change; The extent and operation of former glaciers and ice sheets; Periglacial environments (cold region processes often close to glacierised regions) Specialist guest research contributions (lectures/seminars on topical cryospheric research).20 credits
- Contemporary Geographical Research (L3)
This module requires the student to prepare, research and write up a piece of work based on a geographical topic of their choice. After meeting with a staff member a proposal will be produced that will be marked to give the student feedback before they embark on the essay. An extended essay will then be conducted independently with limited staff support, synthesising and developing a critique on the existing literature available in the Sheffield libraries.20 credits
- Creative Geographies: Media, Imaginaries and Politics
Place, in all its forms, has long inspired creativity, while the works that result are themselves inherently spatial. This module will explore work from several historical and contemporary creative movements and associated cultural producers in context. Why did their work arise where it did? What difference did that place (or places) make to their aesthetic thought and expression? How was space itself integral to their creative work? This module will guide students through the intricate relationship between art across various media, geography, and the political. Emphasis will be put on specific types of space and place as sites and mediums of aesthetic thought and creative practice. Core themes will include identity, place and displacement, historical imaginations and the built environment, and creativity and socio-spatial transformation.20 credits
- Professional Skills for Environmental Science
Environmental science graduates require an appreciation of the needs of professional statutory and regulatory bodies (PSRBs). Employers appreciate the study and research skills developed at university but want graduates that understand the tools in use by environmental science practitioners. This course describes those tools and guides students through the production of their own environmental consultancy report. The module uses lectures, seminars, problem solving sessions, and independent learning to provide professional skills/knowledge. These skills are applied to field visits and laboratory analyses with particular emphasis is given to risk assessment, environmental impact assessment, environmental management and field skills.20 credits
- Coastal Systems: Processes and Management
This module will explore the processes occurring within coastal environments both off-shore and on-shore including aspects of societal interaction with these environments and responses to climate change. The topics typically covered include tides, estuaries, coastal dune systems,cliff erosion and off-shore energy production. It also includes practical elements of data and field based analysis designed to understand coastal processes and monitor changes. Field work comprises an integral element of this module. The aim of the module is to give you an appreciation of the variety and multidisciplinarity of the physical geography associated with coastal environments. It will give you the chance to translate new knowledge and new research field and digital skills to problem solve, critically think and suggest sustainable solutions to real world problems.20 credits
As this module has a residential field class element, you will need to select it by the end of the first Add/Drop period in Semester 1 (i.e., by the end of Week 2). After this point we will close the module to new students, and if you Drop this module at a later date, you might be subject to any cancellation fee we incur.
Students can also take approved modules from other departments, such as:
- Catastrophes and Climate Change: Prehistory to Modernity
A series of lectures and seminars examines the responses of past cultures to natural catastrophes and periods of dramatic climate change which took place from earlier prehistoric times to the post medieval period across the globe. The module draws on the archaeological and historical evidence but also includes a review of the physical landscape record. It will explore the development of the landscape change brought about by these natural hazards and its contribution to changes in human society and the nature of the archaeological record. Student-led as well as staff-led seminars will feature to ensure that examples drawn from all time periods of interest to the student body are addressed.20 credits
- Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems
This module highlights the threats to global sustainability, with a particular focus on food production and ecosystem functioning, being caused by human impacts on the environment. The module considers how we have got into the present unsustainable mess: of poor land and natural resource management, under valuing of farmers, life-threatening soil degradation causing flooding, pollution of fresh water and soil insecurity, as well as large numbers of people overconsuming and wasting food whilst others don't have enough. It shows that how we sustainably manage agro-ecosystems now, and in the immediate future, will determine the fate of humanity. Soils are the foundations of terrestrial ecosystems, food and biofuel production, but are amongst the most badly abused and damaged components of the ecosphere. Climate change, agricultural intensification, biofuels and unsustainable use of fertilizers and fossil fuels pose critical threats to global food production and sustainable agro-ecosystems - and their impacts on soil ecosystems are central to these threats. The module considers soil ecosystems function in nature and the lessons that we can then apply to develop more sustainable agriculture and ecosystem management.10 credits
- Conservation Issues and Management
This module aims to provide the opportunity for students to develop (i) their knowledge of topical issues in conservation, (ii) their ability to identify potential solutions to real-world conservation problems and assess the likely effectiveness of these (iii) their skills in accessing, interpreting and synthesising the primary scientific literature in the field of conservation and (iv) their ability to think independently. This will be achieved by introducing students, through lectures and independent reading, to a range of topical issues in conservation biology, by showing how research can inform the development of action plans and by illustrating how the success of applied measures to mitigate conservation problems can be assessed. Students will then apply their learning by developing action plans for specific conservation problems.20 credits
- Global Justice
What are the demands of justice at the global level? On this module we will examine this question from the perspective of analytic Anglo-American political philosophy. We will start by looking at some debates about the nature of global justice, such as whether justice demands the eradication of global inequalities. We will then turn to various questions of justice that arise at the global level, potentially including: how jurisdiction over territory might be justified; whether states have a right to exclude would-be immigrants; whether reparations are owed for past international injustices such as colonialism; and how to identify responsibilities for combatting global injustice.20 credits
- Digital Health
This module looks at the social implications of digital technologies in health, considering what these mean for our experiences of health and illness as patients and as citizens, for the work of health care professionals, and for the provision of health care. The module will consider a range of contemporary areas such as self-tracking and gamifying health, telemedicine and care at a distance, health information on the net, electronic patient records, illness death and dying on the web, and health activism and online patient groups. Drawing across these, the module will consider questions about changing representations and cultures of health and illness, whether we can all be medical experts now, who has responsibility for health, how we relate to health care professionals, the commodification of health data and the relative benefits for state and industry.20 credits
- Research Design in Physical Geography and Environmental Science
This module aims to provide an introduction to conducting research in physical geography and environmental science. The module will provide an understanding of the sources of research problems and how specific student research topics fit into broader agendas. It will provide an understanding of 'scientific method' and its different components, including the roles of fieldwork, laboratory experiments and modelling. It will provide an introduction to planning a research project (including literature search, fieldwork, laboratory work, data analysis, error analysis and written and graphical presentation) with a view to preparing students for writing a research proposal.15 credits
- Research Project
Students will undertake an original piece of research on a topic of their choice. The aims of the module are to:60 credits
(i) provide students with an insight into current scientific issues within their subject area through the medium of research presentations and discussion.
(ii) foster and develop research skills including the acquisition, processing and presentation of information.
(iii) expose students to a range of presentational techniques of current research material.
(iv) develop students' ability to synthesise oral information.
(v) to develop skills in written and oral communication.
- Current Issues in Geography and Environmental Science
This module provides students with knowledge, insight and awareness into specific current issues in either Geography or Environmental Science. This is achieved through the medium of attendance at research presentations by experts in appropriate fields and discussion of cutting-edge research topics and papers.15 credits
- Digital Geographies: From Everyday Use to Research Methods
Digital geographies of GIS, spatial analysis methods and mapping are now widely used in a large variety of academic and professional settings, from urban planning and architecture to health care and social research. This module is focused on helping students understand the critical and conceptual considerations of GIS, cartography, and critical data studies in exploring the relationship between digital and social, political and economic geographies. The module is taught through a combination of case-study-based lectures and seminars.15 credits
- Theory and Debates in Food Security and Food Justice
Food Security and Food Justice are areas of increasing importance at local, national, transnational and global scales. Political and non-political agents at multiple scales have recognised that Global Hunger and Food Security (of which Food Justice is a primary component) is a key challenge requiring urgent interdisciplinary investigation and problem solving. There remains limited agreement as to how best to approach these issues. This module provides students with a background to the problems encompassed within the food security/food justice nexus by drawing on academic and policy debates that focus on both the macro as well as the micro impacts. By looking across food systems, the module also critically evaluates different strategies for mitigating the impacts of food insecurity and injustice. In addition to academic, knowledge and critical thinking skills, the module will help students to develop the following attributes: Communication, Networking, Collaboration, Influencing, Inclusivity, Defining Purpose, and Growth Mindset.15 credits
- The Science of Environmental Change
This module gives students a critical understanding of the science behind historical and recent environmental change. The module covers the core debates in environmental change, the science behind these changes, methods for detecting environmental change, and the impacts of these changes.15 credits
- Contemporary Geographical Research (L4)
This module requires the student to prepare research and write up a piece of work based on a geographical topic of their choice. After meeting with a staff member a proposal will be produced that will be marked to give the student feedback before they embark on the essay. An extended essay will then be conducted independently with limited staff support, synthesising and developing a critique on the existing literature available in the Sheffield libraries.15 credits
- Environment, Society and Development: Key Issues, Debates and Concepts
This module engages critically with the key theoretical debates that shape the relationships between the environment, society and international development. By looking at current questions in development theory and their relationship to development practice in the context of the Anthropocene and environmental change, it encourages students to think critically about the ways in which interdisciplinary approaches define issues and problems, and the theoretical viewpoints that inform their actions. The module is taught primarily through seminars: these structure students’ learning, and provide an environment in which they can develop their skills in researching, presenting and debating arguments drawn from the academic literature on international development.15 credits
- Managing Climate Change
This module aims to provide students with a strong understanding of the social and physical science of climate change with relevance to international development. This understanding is then applied to consider the challenge of living with climate change in the Global South. The module is taught through seminars and lectures. Lectures introduce and impart factual knowledge while seminars allow discussion and an emphasis on applying key concepts to practical situations. Together these structure students' learning, and provide an environment in which they can develop their skills in researching, presenting and debating arguments drawn from the wide ranging literature on climate change.15 credits
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.
Learning and assessment
Our courses combine theory and concepts with hands-on, practical experience. Fieldwork is at the heart of our courses. Multiple fieldwork opportunities allow you to design, conduct and present your own research projects.
Our lectures and seminars are structured to ensure a varied learning experience that is driven by our research expertise, and we also use tutorial-based teaching to support your university journey.
You will be assessed through a combination of exams, coursework and practical assessment. The proportions of these will vary depending on the modules you choose.
This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.
With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible.
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
A Levels + additional qualifications AAB + B in the EPQ
International Baccalaureate 36
BTEC Extended Diploma D*DD in a relevant subject
BTEC Diploma DD in a relevant subject + A at A Level
Scottish Highers AAAAA
Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels A + AA
Access to HE Diploma Award of Access to HE Diploma in a social science or arts and humanities subject, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 39 at Distinction and 6 at Merit
GCSE Maths grade 4/C
GCSE Maths grade 4 or grade C
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
A Levels + additional qualifications AAB + B in the EPQ
International Baccalaureate 34
BTEC Extended Diploma DDD in a relevant subject
BTEC Diploma DD in a relevant subject + A at A Level
Scottish Highers AAAAB
Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels B + AA
Access to HE Diploma Award of Access to HE Diploma in a social science or arts and humanities subject, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 36 at Distinction and 9 at Merit
GCSE Maths grade 4/C
GCSE Maths grade 4 or grade C
You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification
Equivalent English language qualifications
Visa and immigration requirements
Other qualifications | UK and EU/international
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
Department of Geography
The Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield is a world leader in teaching and research. We're ranked within the top 50 universities in the world for geography according to the QS Rankings 2022, top 10 in the world for geography by the ShanghaiRanking Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2022 and top 10 in the UK for geography by the Guardian University Guide 2023.
We are experts in the fields of social justice and environmental change. We explore our dynamic, diverse world to address humanity’s greatest problems, from food waste to melting ice sheets. Our innovative research and practice-based learning will equip you with distinct, relevant professional skills.
We have over 30 full-time academic staff in the department. Our high staff-to-student ratio ensures that you receive excellent quality teaching and a high level of pastoral support throughout your studies.
The Department of Geography is housed in an award-winning, purpose-built building on the edge of the beautiful Weston Park, close to the Students' Union and central libraries and lecture theatres.
We have a well-equipped computer teaching laboratory, postgraduate and undergraduate physical geography laboratories, and image processing facilities which provide an important component for teaching and research in remote sensing and geographical information systems (GIS).Department of Geography
Why choose Sheffield?
The University of Sheffield
A top 100 university
QS World University Rankings 2023
92 per cent of our research is rated as world-leading or internationally excellent
Research Excellence Framework 2021
Top 50 in the most international universities rankings
Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022
No 1 Students' Union in the UK
Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017
A top 10 university targeted by employers
The Graduate Market in 2022, High Fliers report
Department of Geography
The Guardian University Guide 2023
ShanghaiRanking Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2022
QS World University Rankings by subject 2022
You'll develop the scientific skills to discover and understand the physical and environmental processes that shape our world, and to communicate this specialist knowledge to a broad range of audiences. This combination of scientific knowledge and practical skills helps graduates go into a career which suits their interests and expertise.
Our graduates are employed across a range of sectors, including meteorology, hydrology, geotechnical engineering, environmental consultancy, GIS analysis, conservation and land management. Our physical geography degrees are also a strong foundation for careers in other sectors including tech and coding, consultancy and business, financial services, policy and government.
Recent graduates have gone on to work with a diverse range of employers, including the Environment Agency, UK Hydrographic Office, National Grid, Arup, the Met Office, Jacobs, National Parks, Ford, Mott Macdonald, British Gas, Forestry Commission, Highways England, Hope for the Future, and Natural England, Graduates from our physical geography courses also secure positions on postgraduate and research programmes.
As geographers, our courses will develop your ability to analyse global problems from a range of perspectives and at different scales. As well as specialist geographical skills, including carrying out fieldwork and analysing spatial data, our innovative teaching will help you develop the Sheffield Graduate attributes. These will help you strengthen skills to support your career development, including collaboration, leadership, influencing, commercial awareness and community engagement.
We have specialist staff who will support you to undertake an additional placement year to enhance learning, share knowledge, and develop confidence and skills for graduate level employment.
Placements, field trips and study abroad
Through field trips, you'll continue to advance and deepen your understanding of the relation between theories, real world problems and practical solutions. Fieldwork is embedded throughout our programmes as part of modules - from day trips exploring our local geography in Sheffield and the Peak District, to site visits and trips further afield.
Your first year typically includes a three-day field class to the Peak District in the first semester, which also helps you to get to know staff and your fellow students.
Your second year typically includes a seven-day residential field class in a European destination. In recent years, students have developed and applied their research skills in Almería, Spain, a destination that offers sites for investigating diverse topics related to landforms, microclimate, aeolian processes, water and soil quality, and coastal environments.
During your third year, you are encouraged to choose from a range of optional field class modules exploring UK destinations. Fieldwork remains group-based, but you will tackle projects that are now more substantial, and that are often grounded in debates and issues specific to the environment, processes and systems of the destination.
In recent years we have run trips to investigate urban geographies in Liverpool, glacial, geological and environmental processes that have shaped the beautiful Lake District, and coastal processes and management on the Holderness Coast.
Additionally, many students conduct fieldwork as part of their dissertation projects and departmental scholarships are available to support ambitious independent fieldwork. Recent scholarships have supported research into glaciology in the Swiss Alps, the reintroduction of beavers in the Scottish Highlands, and the links between migration and music in Morocco.
Fees and funding
The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.
Funding your study
Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.
Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.
University open days
We host five open days each year, usually in June, July, September, October and November. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.
If you’re considering your post-16 options, our interactive subject tasters are for you. There are a wide range of subjects to choose from and you can attend sessions online or on campus.
Offer holder days
If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our offer holder days, which take place between February and April. These open days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.
Our weekly guided tours show you what Sheffield has to offer - both on campus and beyond. You can extend your visit with tours of our city, accommodation or sport facilities.
Apply for this course
Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.
How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:
Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.
Telephone: +44 114 222 7900
The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.
Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.
Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.