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Human Geography BA

Please note that information shown below may be subject to change.

UCAS code
Year of entry
View 2019 entry »
Course length
3 years full time
Geography »

While physical geographers look at the features and processes that make up our physical world, human geographers concern themselves with the ways in which humans interact with and are affected by our environment.

Study Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London and you’ll explore topics including culture, economics and geopolitics, developing an advanced understanding of our  relationship with the planet.

This flexible programme lets you tailor your learning through a variety of optional modules, allowing you to choose your perfect balance between the twin disciplines of human and physical geography. You’ll enjoy a range of fieldwork opportunities in the UK and abroad as part of a close, supportive community with an excellent staff-to-student ratio.

Royal Holloway Department of Geography was ranked 2nd in the UK for research by the Research Excellence Framework 2014, which means you'll benefit from world-class research-led teaching from our expert academics.

Graduate with a degree in Human Geography and you’ll enjoy strong employability prospects, with the portfolio of knowledge and skills you build during your studies making you an attractive prospect to employers in a variety of sectors. Recent Department of Geography graduates have gone on to careers in environmental conservation, media relations and more, and you will also be well placed to pursue postgraduate study.

  • Enjoy extensive fieldwork opportunities in locations currently including Andalusia, Cyprus, Malawi, London and New York.
  • Join a department which has received the highest student satisfaction results in every National Student Survey (NSS) since 2011.
  • Be part of a close student community and a supportive learning environment, with small group seminars and tutorials encouraging development and cooperation.
  • Graduate with excellent employment prospects in a variety of fields.

Core modules

Year 1

Physical Geography 1 - Atmosphere, Oceans and the Geosphere

In this module you will develop and understanding of the factors that control the physical, biological and chemical forces which shape the Earth’s surface. You will look at oceanic and atmospheric processes, plate tectonics, hydrology and coastal processes, glaciation, and arid environments.

Physical Geography 2 - Biogeography, Ecology and Scales of Change

In this module you will develop an understanding the complexity of the relationship between people and environment. You will examine how and why ecosystems vary spatially and the impact of human activity, such as deforestation and agriculture, on the physical environment. You will also consider the nature of environmental change, including climatology.

Human Geography 1 - Cultures, Economies, Histories

In this module you will engage with key issues in human geography. You will consider human geography as a distinctive way to approach the world, examining key questions about globalisation, inequality, identity and the nature of place. You will look at approaches to economic, cultural and historical geography, and the development of the discipline, celebrating geographers’ active involvement in the challenges facing humanity.

Human Geography 2 - Politics, Society, Development and Environments

This module will introduce you to human geographical perspectives on political processes, societies, development and the environment. You will develop an appreciation of the importance of scale, networks and spatial patterns, and how geographers have approached the challenges of inequality at local, national and global scales.

Geographical Field and Research Training 1

In this module you will develop your practical research skills on a week-long fieldtrip to Andalusia in Southern Spain. You will spend four days, guided by staff, looking at specific local examples of physical, environmental, social, economic and cultural processes. You will then spend two days, working in small groups, conducting a short piece of original research on a topic of your choice.

Geographical Techniques 1

This module will provide you with an introduction to the methods for collecting, interpreting and presenting physical and human geographical information, in both the field and in the laboratory. You will conduct physical and human geography fieldwork in the local area, with activities including surveying and mapping, vegetation sampling and identification, soil and water analysis, interpreting past history, exploratory and inferential data analysis, questionnaire design, interviewing, and visual and textual interpretation.

Digital Geographies - Introduction to Remote Sensing and GIS

This module will provide you with an introduction to the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in physical and human geographical research, giving you practical experience in the use of ArcMap (an industry-leading GIS software package). You will look at the use of satellite remote sensing for geomorphological mapping, census classifications and boundaries, and volunteered geographic information.

Year 2

Geographical Techniques 2

In this module you will develop your skills in research design, data collection and analysis. You will learn how to handle and process advanced human or physical geography data sets, and further your ability to apply geographical information systems (GIS) techniques. You will also start to plan your dissertation, thinking about proposal design, and risk and research ethics assessments.

Geographical Field Training 2

In this module you will have the opportunity to conduct field research in Cyprus, Malawi, New York, Sicily or London, with each destination focussing on a different area of Geography. You will develop your ability to analyse and problem-solve in the field, collecting, interpreting and combining different types of geographical evidence.

Year 3

Independent Dissertation

The dissertation gives you an opportunity to undertake an individual piece of geographical research, on a topic of your choice, around 10,000 words in length. You will be allocated a member of staff as a dissertation adviser who will provide advice on research design, data collection and analysis.

Optional modules

In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1

Only core modules taken

Year 2

Environmental Systems

Earth Surface Processes and Hazards

Environmental Change


Political Geography

Cities - Society, Economy and Space

Cultural Geography

Perspectives on Development

Year 3

Coastal and Wetland Management

Tropical Savannas

Mediterranean Landscapes

Conservation Biogeography

Global Warming

Wetland Environments

Managing River Environments

Glacial Environments

Digital Landscapes

Arid Africa - Climatic History

Holocene Rivers and Society

People And The Ice Age

Humans and Climate Change

Mammals in a Changing World


Regeneration and Urban Policy

The Geographies Of Commodities

Post-Capitalist Cities

Geopolitics of Media and Communications

Images of Earth - from Homer to Google

Exploration, Science and Making of Geography

Geography of Museums and Collections

Geopolitics on Film

Creative Geographies

Geographies of Home

Fairtrade and Ethical Consumption

Cities and Development in the Global South


Challenging Development? Disasters, Conflict and Human (In)Security

Critical GIS

Cultural Imaginations of Nature

The course has a modular structure, whereby students take four course units per year. Some course units are compulsory while others are options, thereby offering versatility and choice.

Assessment is by a mixture of coursework and end-of-year examination in varying proportions, depending on the course units you choose to take. In the final year you'll write a dissertation on a topic of your choice, which you will research and write with individual guidance from your tutor. The first year is foundational and marks do not count towards your final degree. The second year and final year marks do count, with more importance being given to the final year marks in order to reward progress and achievement.

You will be taught through a combination of lectures and small seminar groups, tutorials and practical workshops. The department has a substantial and varied programme of field training and laboratory work, giving you the opportunity  to apply your skills and knowledge in a practical setting. Private study and preparation are essential parts of every course, and you will have access to many online resources including the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle, which provides a wide range of supporting materials.

We use a range of assessment models to suit different learning styles, from fieldwork exercises and reports and individual and group presentations to coursework essays and examinations. In your final year you will have the opportunity to write a research-led dissertation.

A personal tutor will work with you in providing guidance and support throughout your three years and a member of staff will act as your dissertation advisor to provide support throughout the research and writing-up process.

Study time

Proportions of study time will vary depending on modules taken, but typically:

Year 1

You will spend 17% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 83% in guided independent study.

Year 2

You will spend 24% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 76% in guided independent study.

Year 3

You will spend 14% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 86% in guided independent study.


Proportions of assessment types will vary depending on modules taken, but typically:

Year 1

Written exams account for 50% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 50% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 2

Written exams account for 38% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 62% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 3

Written exams account for 42% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 58% will be assessed through coursework.

Typical offers

Typical offers

How we assess your application:  predicted grades lower than our typical offers are considered.  Read more about what we look for here.

  • Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required.

  • Socio-economic factors which may have impacted an applicant’s education will be taken into consideration and alternative offers may be made to these applicants

Required/preferred subjects

At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9 - 4 including English and Mathematics

Other UK Qualifications
International Baccalaureate

6,5,5 at Higher Level with a minimum of 32 points overall.

BTEC National Extended Diploma

Distinction*, Distinction*, Distinction in a related subject.

Distinction, Distinction in a related subject plus one A-level grade B.

BTEC National Extended Certificate

Distinction plus A-levels grades BB.

Welsh Baccalaureate

Requirements are as for A-levels where one non-subject-specified A-level can be replaced by the same grade in the Welsh Baccalaureate - Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate.

Scottish Advanced Highers


Scottish Highers


Irish Leaving Certificate

H2,H2,H3,H3,H3 at Higher Level.

Access to Higher Education Diploma

Pass in a relevant subject with at least 24 Level 3 Credits at Distinction and the remaining Level 3 credits at Merit.

Please note that the Access to Higher Education Diploma will only be acceptable if the applicant has had a considerable break from education. 

Other UK qualifications

Please select your UK qualification from the drop-down list below

Please select a qualification

Please select a qualification

International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below

English language

IELTS 6.5 overall with 7.0 in writing and minimum of 5.5 in all other subscores. For equivalencies please see here.

For more information about entry requirements for your country please visit our International pages. For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, we offer an International Foundation Year, run by Study Group at the Royal Holloway International Study Centre. Upon successful completion, students can progress on to selected undergraduate degree programmes at Royal Holloway, University of London.

As a graduate from the Department of Geography you’ll become an attractive prospect for employers in a range of sectors – from environmental conservation and NGOs to media relations and the Civil Service - where skilled, qualified geographers remain highly sought-after.

We are ranked among the UK’s top 10 Geography departments for employability, and our excellent industry links give you the chance to pursue rewarding  placements within renowned organisations. Study Human Geography at Royal Holloway and you’ll develop the skills and knowledge you need to thrive in your chosen field.

  • Graduate from a Geography department ranked among the UK’s top ten for employability.
  • 90% of Royal Holloway graduates in work or further education within six months of graduating.
  • Excellent industry links provide the opportunity for placements and work experience. 

Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2018/19*: £9,250

International students tuition fee per year 2018/19**: £17,500

Other essential costs***: £750 to £2000

You will have the opportunity in your first year to go abroad and carry out fieldwork for no additional cost. In your second and third years you may choose to participate in fieldwork abroad that will incur additional costs of between £750 and £2000. However it is possible to complete the degree programme with no additional fieldwork costs.

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

*The tuition fee for UK and EU undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations, and for students starting a degree in the academic year 2018/19 will be £9,250 for that year. The UK Government has confirmed that EU students starting an undergraduate degree in 2018/19 will pay the same level of fee as a UK student for the duration of their degree.

**Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. The policy at Royal Holloway is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our terms and conditions.

***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

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