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Geographical’s pick of the best Human Geography degree courses

Geographical’s pick of the best Human Geography degree courses
11 Nov
If it’s the human side of geography that interests you, this list will give you a selection of some of the best human geography courses available. We’ve accommodated a range of different entry requirements and course structures, to help you find the course that’s right for you

What is Human Geography?

Human geography is the branch of geography that deals with humans and their communities, cultures, economies and interactions with the environment. Typically, human geography explores how these subjects vary spatially and temporally in different parts of the world. Whereas physical geography focuses on spatial and environmental processes that shape and regulate the natural world, human geography focuses on how human societies are shaped through their interactions with place, nature, and each other.

What specialisms can I choose with Human Geography?

If you're keen to focus on human geography there are two main options. You can either pick a Human Geography degree, or do a more general Geography BA degree.  Geography BA courses will cover both human and physical geography but usually have a stonger focus on the human side (as opposed to a Geography BSc degree, which is more likely to prioritise physical geography). Both options are included below. 

There are a large number of sub-disciplinary fields within human geography. Many courses offer modules in each of these sub-disciplines. For example: cultural geography, economic geography, historical geography, geopolitics population geography, rural geography, social geography, transport geography, and urban geography.

How is Human Geography studied?

A mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods are used to study human geography. There is a strong emphasis on geographic fieldwork and mapping. In recent years, the field of human geography has made exciting methodological breakthroughs in spatial analysis and statistics, GIS science and remote sensing. Human geographers have more power than ever to study!

Geographical’s pick of the courses

 The courses below are listed in order of entry requirements, highest to lowest:

Geography BA (3 years) – Durham University

The facts:

  • 90 per cent in work or doing further study after completing the Geography BA course at Durham University (Discover Uni)

  • 90 per cent agreed they were satisfied with the quality of the Geography BA course at Durham University (Discover Uni)

  • Average earnings of £26,000 15 months after graduating the Geography BA course at Durham University (Discover Uni)

The place:

Durham sits among some of the finest architecture in the UK. Durham Castle and Cathedral are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city has a friendly and quaint feeling, but is only 10 minutes by train from the excitement of Newcastle.

The breakdown:

In the first year, you’ll be introduced to a range of research specialisms and research methods, including fieldwork. The majority of modules in the second and third year focus on human geography’s sub-disciplines and social science methods. As you advance through your studies, the second and third year optional modules allow to choose material at the cutting edge of geographical research.

In your third year you’ll conduct a dissertation under the supervision of some of the best geography professors in the world. Optional modules include field trips, including Durham’s famed ‘Cape Town: Geographies of Energy Transition’ and Chicago: Sites of Global Change’ field trips, as examples of the many available.


A Levels: A*AA

IB: 38

Open Day: The next pre-application open days will take place on Friday 18 June and Saturday 19 June 2021 – More information here

Human Geography BA (3 years) – Royal Holloway, University of London

The facts:

  • Royal Holloway is ranked second in the UK for research quality (Complete University Guide 2020

  • 92 per cent of students were satisfied with the quality of the Human Geography BA course at Royal Holloway (National Students Survey)

  • Average earnings of £25,000 15 months after the Human Geography BA course (Graduate Outcomes Survey)

  • 95 per cent go on to work or study within 16 months after the Human Geography BA course (Graduate Outcomes Survey)

The place:

Royal Holloway is located in Surrey, close to the picturesque village of Englefield Green and a ten-minute walk from Egham. You’ll be closely connected to London, Windsor, and Richmond, so there’s something for everyone!

The breakdown:

The course is designed to let you explore topics including culture, economics and geopolitics, and to develop an advanced understanding of humanity’s relationship with the planet. All modules in year one are core, compulsory modules. You’ll learn a mixture of human and physical geographies, laying the foundations that will allow to specialise in years two and three.

In year two, you’ll learn key geographical techniques and field skills. You’ll choose two from: Political Geography, Cities: Economies and Ecologies, Cultural Geographies of the Modern World, and Perspectives on Development, with more optional modules from Earth Surface Processes and Hazards, to Environmental Change.

Year three brings the dissertation – an individual piece of geographical research on a topic entirely of your choice. Optional modules allow to specialise in a sub-discipline of human geography of your choosing.


A Level: AAB–ABB

Find more great advice for aspiring geography students in our full 2020 guide:  Study Geography

Check out our complete University Directory including every UK university offering geography as a degree, full list of available courses, UCAS requirements and university rankings.

Geography BA (3 years) – University of Sheffield

The facts:

  • 88 per cent were satisfied with the Geography BA course from University of Sheffield (National Student Survey)

  • Average earnings of £24,000 15 months after the Geography BA course at University of Sheffield (Graduate Outcomes Survey)

  • 80 per cent go on to work or further study within 15 months after completing the course (Graduate Outcomes Survey)

The place:

Sheffield University’s Student Union has ranked #1 for the past four years (Whatuni Students Choice Awards). There’s always fun to be found in and around the student union, or in the bustling centre of Sheffield. The hills, crags and reservoirs of the Peak District are all accessible by bus and train.

The breakdown:

You’ll take four core modules in your first years (Geographical Skills, Environmental Change and Society, Exploring Human Geographies, Exploring New Horizons in Geography), with a choice of three optional modules. Your range of core modules tapers in the second year, allowing you more freedom to choose your route of study with a diverse range of modules throughout human geography’s sub-disciplines. Your third year will allow to complete a dissertation in a subject of your choice, with a broad range of optional modules – here you can select modules that suit your interests in human geography.


A Level: AAB

IB: 34

Open Days: More information on open days here

Human Geography BA (3 years) – Swansea University

The facts:

  • Course ranked 4th in the UK for graduate prospects (Guardian University Guide)

  • Among the top 10 courses in the UK for overall student satisfaction

  • Among the top 200 universities to study geography worldwide (Shanghai Ranking, Global Ranking of Academic Subjects)

  • Swansea University holds a TEF Gold award, UK Government recognition for excellent teaching in UK higher education

The place:

The geography department is based on the Singleton Park campus overlooking the picturesque Swansea Bay. The ‘City by the Sea’, the campus is a short stroll to the beach. Gower Peninsula is the UK’s first area of outstanding natural beauty – there’s plenty of outdoor space.

The breakdown:

You’ll learn the foundational skills for geography in year one, with compulsory modules spanning physical and human geography. Globalisation, Cities, Geographical Skills, Natural Hazards, and Habitable Earth are all compulsory in your first year.

Your second year will prepare you for independent geographical research: you’ll learn about Geographic Information Systems, Geographic Methods and Approaches, Data Analysis and Dissertation Preparation Skills, as well as a field trip to Vancouver. You’ll have the option to select a range of optional modules, helping you to specialise in a field of human geography that suits you best. In year three, you’ll complete your dissertation under the supervision of top geography academics, with more flexibility to select your academic journey with a range of optional modules. The course also has an option to complete a year in industry.


A Level: ABB–BBB

IB: 32

Open days: You can create your own Oepn Day experience any time via the on-demand Virtual Open Day page

 Not interested in human geography? Find our picks of the best Physical Geography degrees here

Human Geography BSc (3 years) – University of Reading

The facts:

  • 86 per cent were satisfied with the quality of the Human Geography BSc course at University of Reading (National Students Survey)

  • 95 per cent go on to work or study within 15 months of completing the course (Graduate Outcomes Survey)

  • Average annual salary 15 months after the course is £21,000 (Graduate Outcomes Survey)

The place:

The University’s Whiteknights campus is set in 130 hectares of beautiful parkland. It’s received nine consecutive Green Flag awards, recognising it as one of Britain’s top green spaces. Lively riverside bars and restaurant areas line the streets of Reading. Plus, half an hour by train is all it takes to get to London.

The breakdown:

University of Reading’s Geography course is designed to cover everything from climate change, globalisation and international labour markets, to local and national issues of social deprivation and water pollution.

Year one includes three core modules on foundational skills in human geography. Right from the start, you can begin to hone your interests with optional modules in human geography’s sub-disciplines. Year two core modules will prepare your geographical research skills, as the range of optional modules available broadens. In year three, you can specialise in a subject area of your choosing, ranging from globalisation and sustainability, to climate change. The coure provides opportunities to go on placement; you might choose to work with Thames Water, the Environment Agency, the Earth Trust or West Berkshire Wildlife Group. In the autumn term of your final year, you will have the option to study abroad for a term, either in the Netherlands, Denmark or Norway.


A Level: BBB

IB: 30

Open day: More information on Open Days and Virtual Tours available here

 Human Geography BA (3 years) - Aberystwyth University

The facts:

  • 100 per cent overall student satisfaction for the Human Geography course (National Student Survey 2019)

  • Aberyswyth’s Department of Geography and Earth Sciences scored 92 per cent for overall student satisfaction (National Student Survey 2020)

  • Top 10 in the UK for the subject of Geography and Environmental Science (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019)

  • 97 per cent of graduates were in work or further study within 6 months (HESA 2018)

The place:

Aberyswyth University is set on the coast of Cardigan Bay, surrounded by beautiful marine, moorland and mountain environments. Perfectly suited then, for one of the UK’s best geography departments. The Human Geography BA course at Aberyswyth is accredited by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).

The breakdown:

In your first year you’ll learn four core modules tackling the key concepts of geographical study (Conflict and Change: The Making of Urban and Rural Spaces; Living with Global Change; Place and Identity; Researching The World: Data Collection And Analysis) along with a range of optional modules (How to Build a Planet; Understanding Sameness and Difference; Earth Surface Environments; Key Concepts in Sociology).

In your second year, you’ll undertake an expanded range of core modules with a higher focus on fieldwork and quantitative and qualitative analytical methods. Computer research skills will prepare you for independent research. A range of optional modules will allow you to specialise in a field of human geography of your choice, ranging from GIS to geohazards, sustainability and beyond.

The Geography Dissertation will take a bulk of your third year, and will be formed of an independent research project involving collection, analysis and interpretation of your own data. With optional modules as diverse as urbanisation, rural change and regional policy, you can tailor your final year to suit your interests.


A Levels: BBB–CCC

IB: 30–26

EB: 75 per cent – 65 per cent overall

Open Day: Online 25 November 2020 – Register Here

Human Geography BSc (3 years) – University of Hertfordshire

The facts:

  • 79.9 per cent of students were satisfied with the quality

  • Human Geography BSc is an accredited programme with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

  • University of Hertfordshire holds a TEF Gold award, UK Government recognition for excellent teaching in UK higher education

The place:

University of Hertfordshire is located in Hatfield, just 25 minutes by train from London King’s Cross station. You can grab some fresh air in between classes at nearby Ellenbrook Fields, a large nature reserve close to campus.

The breakdown:

Your first year includes an expanded range of nine core modules, giving you a broad base from which to begin specialising in your second year. Core modules in your second year include ‘Geographies of Exclusion and Marginalisation’, ‘People, Place and Movement’, and ‘Enhancing Employability’, ‘Research Design and Methods’, with optional modules including ‘Environment, Conservation and Food’, and ‘Digital Geography’. Your third year will see you undertake an independent research project, with further compulsory modules in ‘Urban Place Making’ and ‘Geopolitics’ as well as a range of modules that you can choose depending on your interests. Before your third year, you’ll have the opportunity to undertake a work placement to build your career prospects, or to study abroad with partnered institutions in US, Canada, Latin America, East Asia, India, South East Asia and Australia.


A Level: CCC

Open Days: Next virtual open day 21 November – More information here

 Geography (Human) BA (3 years) – Bath Spa University

The facts:

  • 85 per cent go on to work and or study within 15 months after the course (Discover Uni)

  • Average earnings of £20,000 after the course for Human Geography BA course at Bath Spa University (Discover Uni)

  • Accredited degree programme by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

The place:

Bath Spa University is famed for its beautiful campuses. At the heart of campus at Newton Park is a twelfth century castle tower and Georgian grand manor house. The peakland valley setting just outside Bath is a beautiful and unique ‘natural laboratory’.

The breakdown:

Your first year will give you the foundational skills for human geography, giving you a taste of different sub-disciplines, with plenty of opportunities for fieldwork in neighbouring places as Bristol and Bath.

In the second year, greater emphasis is placed on research methods; you’ll learn a wide range of geographical methods and techniques, applying them to real-world problems. Optional modules are as diverse as ‘Climate and Society’, to ‘Crime, Law and Society’ to ‘Contested Geographies: Histories and Debates’. You’ll start to explore career options and planning, with opportunities for a work placement or volunteering overseas.

In year three, you’ll specialise in human geography, developing your skills by undertaking primary research for a dissertation. A field trip to Barcelona or India can help you to broaden your research horizons to study historical, cultural and political geographies.


A Level: CCC

IB: 26

Open Day: Virtual Open Day, Saturday 21 November – Book Here

Don't forget to check out our full University Directory including  every UK university offering geography as a degree, full list of available courses, UCAS requirements and university rankings!

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