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What makes Physical Geography at Worcester special?

Physical Geography studies the patterns and processes occurring within our natural environment, from the atmosphere to the biosphere. Our Physical Geography degree explores the processes that shape our planet and how they impact upon the human environment. With a strong emphasis on field work, you will have every opportunity to immerse yourselves in a range of different physical environments within the UK and overseas.

The first year provides a foundation for a diverse range of specialist options in physical geography available to you in your second and third years of study. In year three, you will complete a dissertation which brings together the subject knowledge, skills and techniques you have learned in the degree to produce an independent and original piece of academic research on a topic of your choice.

You will also enjoy exciting fieldwork opportunities, comprising both local day excursions and longer, residential fieldwork in the UK and overseas. Examples of current residential field course venues include the Lake District, Scotland, Switzerland, and California. There is also an opportunity to spend a Semester in Year 2 studying at a partner university in Europe, Canada, the USA, Australia or New Zealand.

At Worcester, Physical Geography is all about the student experience. In addition to providing you with a supportive and friendly learning environment, our smaller class sizes allow you to develop an extensive range of field, laboratory and GIS skills. This is complemented by excellent access to a wide range of cutting-edge equipment. Our applied approach places you in a strong position when it comes to employment and further study.

Overview

Overview

Key features

  • 100% overall student satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2020
  • Generous residential fieldwork provision in the UK and overseas (current venues include the Lake District, Scotland, California and the Swiss Alps; see fieldwork page for additional information).
  • Our degree programmes provide you with the transferable skills and expertise essential for future employment.
  • Our research feeds directly into our teaching, meaning you will be taught by academics who are experts in their field, ensuring you are kept abreast of the latest developments in geography
  • You have the option of taking a professional placement with one of a wide range of organisations, including local government, charities, schools, government agencies and environmental consultancies
  • Opportunity to spend a semester abroad in your second year - locations include Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada.
  • Small classes, allowing for intensive fieldwork, practical work and more rewarding exploration of ideas
  • State-of-of the art facilities to support your learning, including survey-grade drones, 3 river monitoring stations, and a wide range of equipment to support research in atmospheric and river science

Geography at Worcester

Physical Geography BSc with International Year Abroad

This four-year course has the same structure as our BSc Physical Geography programme, but you will spend your third year studying geography and other subjects at an English-speaking university abroad.  

Spending a year living and studying in another country is a fantastic opportunity that will: 

  • Give you valuable insights and practical experience in a different country
  • Broaden your academic portfolio
  • Become more self-aware, independent and open-minded
  • Develop your social skills, communication and confidence
  • Improve your career prospects by gaining new skills and increasing your employability
  • Prepare you for the global job market
  • Improve your foreign language skills or learn a new language
  • Make new friends, undertake sports and activities in a different environment
  • Travel and explore different cultures

Your third-year study abroad will be arranged on an individual basis. We currently have exchange agreements with universities in Europe, Canada, the USA, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Visit Study Abroad to find out more information about our study abroad options.

Royal Geography Society with IBG - Accredited programme

Accreditation

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.

100% satisfaction logo

This course received 100% overall student satisfaction (NSS 2020)

"The staff have been fantastic in supporting me and helping me to acquire the knowledge and confidence I have now, and put together an engaging and inspiring course."

Joshua Chambers, BSc (Hons) Physical Geography graduate.

Entry requirements

What qualifications will you need?

104-120
UCAS tariff points

Entry requirements

104-120 UCAS Tariff points

The University will consider each application on its individual merits and will recognise a range of qualifications not currently included in the Tariff, including pre-2002 qualifications such as GNVQ.

If your qualifications are not listed, please contact the Admissions Office for advice on 01905 855111 or email admissions@worc.ac.uk for advice.

Other information

Further information about the UCAS Tariff can be obtained from the UCAS website.

If you are an international student who does not have the relevant entry requirements for direct entry onto this course, our pathway courses at University of Worcester International College could be the right option for you and enable you to still graduate with this degree. To find out more visit the Science and Health & Social Science pathways page.

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Course content

What will you study?

Our courses are informed by research and current developments in the discipline and feedback from students, external examiners and employers. Modules do therefore change periodically in the interests of keeping the course relevant and reflecting best practice. The most up-to-date information will be available to you once you have accepted a place and registered for the course. If there are insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this might not be offered, but we will advise you as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative. 

Year 1

Mandatory

  • Geographical Investigations

  • Dynamic Earth

  • Risk and Resilience

  • Introduction to Sustainability

Year 2

Mandatory

  • Geographical Information Systems and Research Methods

  • The Physical Geography of Mountain Environments

  • Geography Residential Field Course

Optional

  • Climate Change: Science and Policy

  • Meteorology and Climate

  • River Monitoring and Assessment

  • Natural Hazards

  • Language modules offered by the Language Centre

  • California Field Course: Dynamic Landscapes

Year 3

Mandatory

  • Dissertation in Physical Geography

  • Mountain Environments Overseas Field Course

Optional

  • River Conservation

  • Mountain Glaciers and Landscape

  • Professional Placement for Geographers

  • Earth Observation and GIS applications

  • River Conservation and Management

  • Environmental Geology

  • Quaternary Climate and Environmental Change

  • Atmospheric Processes and Pollution

  • California Field Course; Dynamic Landscapes

Geography fieldwork

At Worcester, fieldwork is central to our approach to teaching and research in Geography.

In addition to a range of fantastic residential field courses (destinations this year include Malawi, California, Switzerland, France and Scotland), we include local and regional fieldwork in most of our modules.

Fieldwork is embedded throughout the degree, which is important because it provides frequent opportunities to apply and extend knowledge and skills in the ‘real world’. As well as being essential preparation for employment and further study, it can be hugely enjoyable.

Find out more about fieldwork opportunities

Teaching and assessment

How will you be taught?

We enable you to develop the independent learning capabilities that will equip you for lifelong learning and future employment, as well as academic achievement.

A mixture of independent study, teaching and academic support through the personal academic tutoring system enables you to reflect on progress and build up a profile of skills, achievements and experiences that will enable you to flourish and be successful.

Teaching

All modules within the BSc Physical Geography programme aim to encourage learners to engage in discussion of key issues and application of key concepts. Students are taught through a combination of fieldwork, seminars, presentations, tutorials, laboratory work, project work, and online activities.

In addition, meetings with personal academic tutors are scheduled on at least 4 occasions in the first year, and three occasions in the second and third year of the course. You have an opportunity to meet with your personal academic tutor on more occasions if you wish. A key aim of the academic tutorial programme is to provide you with support for your academic studies.

In the second semester in the second year of your course, you have an option to study abroad for a semester at a university either in Europe or in an international location. Previous students have studies abroad for one semester at an American, Canadian, Australian and Spanish university. Other destinations are also available.

During your course, you will have access to a wide range of specialist resources, including a fully equipped GIS Mapping and Visualization Suite, which provides access to high-end computers, industry standard GIS (ArcGIS), statistical analysis software, and other mapping and remote sensing software. You will also have access to a variety of field equipment, laboratories for teaching and research, and industry-standard design software to prepare you for future employment.

Contact time

In a typical week, you will have approximately 12-16 contact hours of teaching. The exact contact hours will depend on the optional modules selected. In practical based modules, students can expect up to 48 hours contact time per semester. In the final year there is normally slightly less contact time in order carry out more independent self-study. However, students will have guided supervision, with up to 48 hours contact time in taught sessions, if the module requires the use of specialist software or field/ laboratory-based activities.

Typical class contact time is structured around:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Interactive workshops
  • Practical sessions
  • Group activities
  • Fieldwork

Independent self-study

In addition to the 12-16 hours of contact time, you are expected to undertake around 24 hours of personal self-study per week. Typically, this will involve completing online activities, reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library and online, preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for examinations.

Independent learning is supported by a range of excellent learning facilities, including the Lakeside Campus outdoor facilities, The Hive and library resources, the virtual learning environment, and extensive electronic learning resources. 

Teaching staff

You will be taught by a teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. The team includes professors in human and physical geography, senior academics with industry experience, demonstrators and technicians. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

Teaching is informed by the research and consultancy, and a very high percentage (85+%) of course lecturers have a higher education teaching qualification or are Fellows of the Higher Education Academy. You can learn more about the staff by visiting our staff profiles.

Assessment

The course provides opportunities to test understanding and learning informally through the completion of practice or 'formative' assignments. Each module has one or more formal or 'summative' assessments, which are graded and count towards the overall module grade.

Assessment methods include written examinations and a range of coursework assessments such as essays, written assignments (including consultancy reports and planning statements), journals, practical investigations, practical reports, portfolios, individual and groups presentations, posters, and a final year independent studies project.

The precise assessment requirements for an individual student in an academic year will vary according to the mandatory and optional modules taken. You will not be expected to complete all assignments list below (i.e. the exact pattern of assignments depends on your optional modules); however, a typical formal summative assessment pattern for each year of the course is:

Year 1

  • 1 Essay
  • 1 Portfolio/Logbook
  • 2 Practical reports
  • 2 Presentations
  • 2 Written Assignments

Year 2

  • 2 Essays
  • 1 Exam
  • 1 Individual or Group Presentations
  • 1 Practical Investigation
  • 4 Practical Reports
  • 1 Research Proposal
  • 1 Written Assignment

Year 3

  • 1 Other (Dissertation)
  • 1 Practical Assessments
  • 1 Practical Investigation
  • 1 Practical Report
  • 1 Project
  • 2 Written Assignments

Feedback

You will receive feedback on practice assessments and on formal assessments undertaken by coursework. Feedback on examination performance is available upon request from the module leader. Feedback is intended to support learning and you are encouraged to discuss it with personal academic tutors and module tutors as appropriate.

We aim to provide you with feedback on formal course work assessments within 20 working days of hand-in.  

Programme specification

For comprehensive details on the aims and intended learning outcomes of the course, and the means by which these are achieved through learning, teaching and assessment, please download the latest programme specification document.

In person teaching from September

We intend to start the academic year as planned in September 2020.

For many years, the majority of our teaching has taken place in small group settings such as seminars, laboratory classes, tutorials, clinical simulation and other practical sessions. We are planning to continue to teach these in person, while strictly following the Government safety guidelines in place at the time.

Other sessions will be delivered through a blend of in-person and online learning. You can read more about this approach in our coronavirus FAQs.

Meet the team

professor-ian-maddock

Professor Ian Maddock

Professor Ian Maddock joined Worcester in 1993 and has teaching and research interests in River Science, Hydromorphology, Hydroecology / Ecohydrology, Ecohydraulics, River Restoration and Aquatic Habitat Measurement, Mapping and Modelling. Ian developed and is the leader of the University’s River Science Research Group.

Ian has international experience conducting research in Australia, Ireland and the USA. He has flown the University's drones for research in the UK, Chile and Slovenia.

dr-fleur-visser

Dr Fleur Visser

Fleur studied Physical Geography at the University of Amsterdam and since then has studied and worked in Belgium, Australia and the UK.

In a current research project she is investigating the possibilities of applying remote sensing techniques for detecting and mapping submerged aquatic vegetation and algae in shallow river systems, mostly UK chalk streams.

dr-des-mcdougall

Dr Des McDougall

Des is a physical geographer with interests in glaciers and glaciation, mountain geomorphology, and Quaternary environmental change.

He enjoys teaching and has particular interests in learning technologies, fieldwork, and virtual reality. An example of the work he has done in this area is his VR Glaciers and Glaciated Landscapes resource, which is used by a growing number of schools, colleges and universities around the world. 

dr-cheryl-jones

Dr Cheryl Jones

As well as teaching a variety of modules on the Geography BSc (Hons) course and supervising PhD students, Dr Cheryl Jones also has a number of other roles within University of Worcester - as a KTI Fellow; Award leader in Physical Geography; Enterprise co-ordinator; and Examinations Officer.

rebecca-collins

Rebecca Collins

Becky Collins is an Associate Lecturer and a postgraduate researcher focussing on river science, geomorphology and GIS.After several years spent working for the Environment Agency as a Flood and Coastal Risk Management Advisor, she brings her industry experience and knowledge to her teaching to help equip students with the skills needed for a rewarding career in the environment sector.

dr-matthew-smith

Dr Matthew Smith

Matt has experience of teaching undergraduate and post-graduate students both in the UK and abroad (e.g. Austria and Poland). Matt is an active researcher, and is best known for his work as an aerobiologist studying temporal and spatial variations in airborne allergenic pollen and fungal spores. Other research interests include climate change impacts with particular focus on allergy and health, environmental change in relation to the distribution of allergenic plants, and phenology. He has co-authored more than 70 peer reviewed scientific journal articles and five book chapters, and currently works as an editor for three journals.

See the Geography team

Watch the Geography team introduce themselves in a series of short videos.
Careers

Where could it take you?

The course will prepare you for a range of interesting and diverse careers, including environmental consultancy, geographical information systems (GIS) management, local government and planning (e.g. town and country planning, regeneration managers, climate change development officers, data managers, community service managers), conservation, working with the wildlife trusts or Civil Service, research and teaching. Alternatively, you may wish to continue to postgraduate study and other professional qualifications. Many of our students choose a career in teaching and go on to further study on one of our PGCE courses in Geography here at the University of Worcester.

Physical Geography graduates have a good track record in gaining employment in a wide range of professions and organisations, as a result of the broad range of skills developed through hands-on learning activities centred on the analysis of real world issues and processes.

You'll have many opportunities to extend your experience and enhance your CV by carrying out voluntary work or by taking the Professional Practice module in your 3rd year of study. We have links with several local government (such as local authority planning departments) organisations and other environmental and conservation agencies and can help organise voluntary work (which can feed into dissertation projects in the final year of study). Numerous undergraduates have volunteered to assist in the collection of River Science field data in recent years and have gained experience in using our state of the art river monitoring equipment. This has helped some of them gain employment after graduation in the water industry, with environmental consultancies and the Environment Agency.

Alps field course

Our students travel to the Alps to experience mountain environments on one of our field trips.
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Costs

How much will it cost?

Full-time tuition fees

UK and EU students

The standard tuition fee for full-time UK and EU students registering in the academic year 2020/21 is £9,250 per year.

For more details, please visit our course fees page.

International students

The standard tuition fee for full-time international (non-EU) students registering in the academic year 2020/21 is £12,700 per year.

For more details, please visit our course fees page.

Part-time tuition fees

UK and EU students

The standard tuition fees for part-time UK and EU students registering on this course in the academic year 2020/21 are £1,156 per 15-credit module, £1,542 per 20 credit module, £2,313 per 30-credit module, £3,083 per 40-credit module, £3,469 per 45-credit module and £4,625 per 60 credit module.

For more details, please visit our course fees page.

Additional costs

Every course has day-to-day costs for basic books, stationery, printing and photocopying. The amounts vary between courses.

If your course offers a placement opportunity, you may need to pay for a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check.

The costs of travel and accommodation on all mandatory taught field courses will be covered in by the University. The majority of field courses are either self-catered or half-board and students may be expected to purchase meals.

You will need to pay for any optional field courses you take.

You may also need to purchase your own outdoor clothing suitable for some field courses.

Accommodation

Finding the right accommodation is paramount to your university experience, and our welcoming student communities are great places to live and study.

We have over 1,000 rooms across our halls of residence. With rooms to suit every budget and need, from our 'Traditional Hall' at £105 per week to 'En-suite Extra' at £169 per week (2020/21 prices).

For full details visit our accommodation page.

How to apply

How do you apply?

Applying through UCAS

Single Honours:
Physical Geography BSc (Hons) - F800 BSc

Joint Honours:
Ecology and Physical Geography - CF18

UCAS is the central organisation through which applications are processed for entry onto full-time undergraduate courses in Higher Education in the UK.

Read our How to apply pages for more information on applying and to find out what happens to your application.

UCAS Code

F800

Get in touch

If you have any questions, please get in touch. We're here to help you every step of the way.

Dr Cheryl Jones

Head of Geography & Archaeology