Geography BSc

2025-26 entry
School of Geography and Planning

Examine patterns and processes in the natural environment with our physical geography degree. You’ll develop practical skills in the field and address global issues such as environmental pollution and rising sea levels.

Key details

Explore this course:

    Course description

    Dr Tom Pering shows students equipment that can be used to monitor volcanoes

    Explore the natural environment and learn how to tackle the climate crisis, environmental pollution and rising sea levels in the context of the diverse, intricate interactions between the Earth’s systems.

    Studying geography at Sheffield is your opportunity to analyse patterns and processes in the natural environment and learn how to tackle contemporary global issues.

    Accredited by the Royal Geographical Society, this three-year physical geography course is a blend of field-based learning, technical training and building practical skills.

    You'll learn how to use geospatial techniques such as computer programming and satellite observations, and Geographical Information Systems to observe and monitor the Earth.

    We use the space around us as our living laboratory: you'll spend time learning in Sheffield and exploring the nearby Peak District National Park during field classes. And the University is happy to cover the costs of travel, accommodation and food to ensure everyone has the chance to take part.

    Gain the specialist, practical and transferable skills you’ll need for your future career on this BSc Geography course.

    Typically our physical geography graduates progress to careers in research, sustainability, meteorology, environmental consultancy, GIS analysis, business, policy and government.

    Why study this course?

    • We cover field trip costs - to ensure everyone has the chance to carry out fieldwork, all costs for the core residential field classes are met by the department. This includes the costs of travel, accommodation and food during your residential stay.
    • Fully accredited - accredited by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), the course gives a solid academic foundation in geographical knowledge and skills – preparing you to address the needs of the world beyond higher education.
    • Student life - get involved in GeogSoc and become part of one of the biggest societies at the University of Sheffield. Members enjoy socials, spending time in the Peak District, career and academic support, volunteering, sports and more.

    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.

    Study Geography and Environmental Science at Sheffield

    Modules

    We're revising the curriculum of this course for this year of entry and are in the process of confirming the modules. The information on this page gives you an idea of the areas we expect the course to cover. There may be changes before you start. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Title: Geography BSc course structure
    UCAS code: F800
    Years: 2024, 2025
    First year

    Core modules:

    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.

    The following particular skills will be achieved in this module: exchanging knowledge; networking; emotional intelligence; inclusivity; positive mindset; innovation; commercial awareness.

    20 credits
    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.  The module seeks to develop a holistic understanding of how the Earth functions as a system, focusing in particular on the functioning of key elements of this system - notably the operation of the geosphere, atmosphere, and cryosphere - and how these elements interact to influence the evolution of the system as a whole. Consideration of the latter aspect will include discussion of the impacts and consequences of alterations to the operation of different parts of the system, such as those caused by past and present climatic change. Finally, we consider how the form of Earth's surface reflects current and past geosphere, atmosphere and cryosphere processes at a range of spatial scales, from small-scale fluvial, aeolian and glacial landforms, to the evolution of continents and large mountain ranges.

    20 credits

    Optional modules:

    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
    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 analysis

    10 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

    Students can also take approved modules from other departments, such as:

    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
    The Making of Urban Places

    This module will introduce you to cities and urbanisation, from the very first settlements to contemporary metropolises, using examples throughout history from across the world. The module focuses on thinking about the role of cities within societies and civilisations throughout history, and how planning ideas and practice have developed in response. It explores the histories of urbanisation, from the earliest urban settlements to the megacities of the twentieth century, looking at how various forces have shaped cities, and the outcomes of urbanisation for cities and their populations. It highlights influential ideas which have changed our thinking about cities, looks at how urban governments and planners have sought to respond to the challenges of urbanisation, and discusses critical debates around these. The module takes a global focus, drawing on different cases and examples from around the world.

    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
    LGBTQ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer] Studies

    This module introduces students to study of genders and sexualities, and LGBTQ scholarship, both historical and contemporary. It examines genders and sexualities in society, culture, media, and their academic study, as well as contemporary issues of inequality affecting sexual minorities in different global contexts. The module is team taught by experts in different departments at the University of Sheffield, who will introduce students to a wide range of theoretical and methodological perspectives, such as philosophy, history, social sciences, psychology, evolutionary biology, education, cultural studies, and critical study of religion. The module is assessed by a coursework portfolio, where students answer a number of short questions on different topics in the syllabus. 

    10 credits
    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.

     

    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.

    10 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.

    Learning and assessment

    Learning

    Our courses combine theory and concepts with hands-on, practical experience. 

    Fieldwork is at the heart of our courses. Typically, there are multiple fieldwork opportunities, which allow you to design, conduct and present your own research projects.

    As a student, you will benefit from the department’s close connections with policymakers and practitioners from various sectors. We often invite these external speakers into seminars to share their own experiences or insight on topics that you will be learning about in your modules.

    We invest to create the right environment for you. That means outstanding facilities, study spaces and support, including 24/7 online access to our online library service.

    Study spaces and computers are available to offer you choice and flexibility for your study. Our five library sites give you access to over 1.3 million books and periodicals. You can access your library account and our rich digital collections from anywhere on or off campus. Other library services include study skills training to improve your grades, and tailored advice from experts in your subject.

    Learning support facilities and library opening hours

    Assessment

    You will be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams. The proportions of these will vary depending on the modules you choose.

    Coursework may include essays and reports, policy briefs, stakeholder analysis, and science communication activities such as podcasts, blogs and vlogs.

    Our diverse range of assessments ensures that you develop transferable skills and attributes that are prized by employers.

    As a graduate you will be able to confidently and creatively interpret, present and communicate complex information to a variety of audiences.

    Programme specification

    This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

    Find programme specification for this course

    Entry requirements

    With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible.

    Standard offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    AAB

    A Levels + a fourth Level 3 qualification
    ABB + B in the EPQ; ABB + B in Core Maths
    International Baccalaureate
    34
    BTEC Extended Diploma
    DDD in a relevant subject
    BTEC Diploma
    DD + 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
    Other requirements
    • GCSE Maths grade 4/C

    Access Sheffield offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    ABB

    A Levels + a fourth Level 3 qualification
    ABB + B in the EPQ; ABB + B in Core Maths
    International Baccalaureate
    33
    BTEC Extended Diploma
    DDD in a relevant subject
    BTEC Diploma
    DD + B at A Level
    Scottish Highers
    AAABB
    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels
    B + AB
    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 30 at Distinction and 15 at Merit
    Other requirements
    • GCSE Maths grade 4/C

    English language requirements

    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

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for an International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

    Graduate careers

    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 you learn you’ll have the opportunity to develop the Sheffield Graduate Attributes and Geography Graduate Attributes. These are the academic skills, personal skills and approaches to wellbeing which will help you on your course, aid your personal development and enhance your future employability.

    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.

    School of Geography and Planning

    Top 10 in the UK for geography

    The Guardian University Guide 2024

    Geography and Planning building
    Geography and Planning building

    The School of Geography and Planning 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 2023 and top 10 in the UK for geography by the Guardian University Guide 2024.

    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.

    Our high staff-to-student ratio ensures that you receive excellent quality teaching and a high level of pastoral support throughout your studies.

    The School of Geography and Planning 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.

    Facilities

    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 geographic information systems (GIS).

    Our facilities

    School of Geography and Planning

    University rankings

      Number one in the Russell Group
    National Student Survey 2023 (based on aggregate responses)

      University of the Year and best for Student Life 
    Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2024

      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 2023

      Number one Students' Union in the UK
    Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2024, 2023, 2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017

      Number one for teaching quality, Students' Union and clubs/societies
    StudentCrowd 2023 University Awards

      A top 20 university targeted by employers
    The Graduate Market in 2023, High Fliers report

    Student profiles

    Graduate Aamir Khan standing outside the Geography Dept

    I gained a breadth of skills that are essential for most jobs

    Aamir Khan Geography BSc

    Aamir discusses how his degree and voluntary work at Sheffield led to his current role setting sustainability targets for the construction industry.

    Geog student

    I gained confidence in speaking to a variety of stakeholders, from contractors to investors

    Tom Humphries BSc Geography with Employment Experience

    Tom Humphries' placement with Eden Rivers Trust has given him a wide range of experience in the third sector.

    Fees and funding

    Fees

    Additional costs

    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.

    Examples of what’s included and excluded

    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.

    Placements, field trips and study abroad

    Placements

    You may have the opportunity to add an optional placement year as part of your course, converting the three year course to a four-year Degree with Placement Year. 

    A placement year will help you to:

    • gain an insight into possible careers
    • develop a range of transferable skills
    • build a professional network
    • get a feel for what you do and don’t like doing
    • add valuable work experience to your CV
    • gain experience of applying for jobs and interview practice
    • apply elements of academic learning in the workplace

    Field trips

    Through field classes, 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.

    We are committed to make our field classes financially inclusive. For this reason, all costs for the core field classes at Levels 1 and 2 and the optional UK-based field classes at Level 3 are met by the department. This includes the costs of travel, accommodation and food during your residential stay.

    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.

    Our field classes give you practical experiences and training in diverse environments. We take an ethical and sustainable approach to planning destinations and consider the impact on local communities and the environment.

    Destinations for field classes may change from year to year in response to our course content, our world-leading research, reviews, feedback from students or wider global events. We will contact students in advance of any changes to our field classes.

    Our fieldwork philosophy

    Study abroad

    Spending time abroad during your degree is a great way to explore different cultures, gain a new perspective and experience a life-changing opportunity that you will never forget. 

    You can apply to extend this course with a year abroad, usually between the second and third year. We have over 250 University partners worldwide. Popular destinations include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

    Find out more on the Global Opportunities website.

    Visit

    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.

    Open days: book your place

    Subject tasters

    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.

    Upcoming taster sessions

    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 school focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.

    Campus tours

    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.

    Campus tour: book your place

    Apply

    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:
    www.ucas.com

    Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.

    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.

    Our student protection plan

    Terms and Conditions upon Acceptance of an Offer

    2025-2026

    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:
    www.ucas.com

    Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.

    Examine patterns and processes in the natural environment with our physical geography degree. You’ll develop practical skills in the field and address global issues such as environmental pollution and rising sea levels.