We use cookies on this site. By browsing our site you agree to our use of cookies. Close this message Find out more

More in this section Undergraduate

Undergraduate study

Geography degrees at Royal Holloway are flexible, allowing you to explore the broad range of geographical topics, or to focus on particular areas of interest.

The Department of Geography is a friendly and lively place to work and study, and is one of the leading departments in the UK:

  • Our teaching and academic support is very highly rated by our students in the National Student Survey. In the last five years (2012-16) ‘overall satisfaction’ has averaged 97% across all our courses. This reflects the energy and dedication of our excellent team of academic, technical and support staff.. 
  • In addition, the Department is consistently ranked in the top tier in national research assessment exercises. This means that members of academic staff are acknowledged as national and international experts in their respective research fields, adding considerable extra qualities to the undergraduate degree programmes through links between teaching and research skills. 

We can offer students the chance to experience and learn about different aspects of geography in both the UK and overseas through a range of Department based teaching methods, through the use of state-of-the-art laboratory facilities for both physical and human geography, and through field training. 

As well as the academic programme, the student-run Geography Society organises regular events and has been recognised by the Students' Union as the ‘Most Sociable Society’. 


The undergraduate programme is structured through a system of ‘course units’, with students taking four units in each of the three years. The individual units comprise a range of teaching methods, including lectures, seminars, tutorials, fieldwork and practicals. This diversity of teaching underlies the ethos of the Department in that students should be taught how to ‘do’ geography as well as learning details of the subject. Key features of the undergraduate programme are:

  • the ability to choose second and third year courses
  • the ability to choose courses in other departments in the second and third years, subject to availability and the meeting of any pre-requisites
  • all second and third year courses count towards your degree
  • courses examined in the year in which they are taught
  • diversity of assessment
  • a personal tutor to provide advice and support throughout your degree
  • independent dissertation research on a topic of your choice, advised and guided by an academic member of staff.

Assessment of courses is through written examinations and/or coursework. Coursework is designed to assess a range of skills, with typical methods including essays, subject reviews, laboratory reports, oral & poster presentations, fieldwork reports and the final year dissertation. On a year by year basis, the balance between coursework and examinations is as follows:

  1. First Year: Four exams, oral and poster presentations plus a report linked to the Spain field trip; field and laboratory reports, small-group tutorial work. Overall weighting is 50 per cent:50 per cent coursework to exams.
  2. Second Year: Three option courses each with 50 per cent coursework and 50 per cent exam; field and laboratory reports. Overall weighting is approx. 63 per cent:37 per cent coursework to exams.
  3. Third year: Dissertation; six option courses ranging from 33 per cent:67 per cent coursework to exams, to 50 per cent:50 per cent. Overall weighting ranging from 50 per cent:50 per cent to 63 per cent:37 per cent coursework to exams, depending on options taken.

Exams are typically a two hour paper with a choice of two questions from six. All exams are taken in the summer term.

The Department has been widely complimented in both internal and external review for “an exemplary undergraduate tutorial system, which contributes to very high progression rates.” 

The key features of the tutor system are:

  • all students are allocated to a personal tutor who remains in this role throughout the student’s time in the department. 
  • tutorial groups usually number six or seven students. 
  • in the first year, students meet in their tutor groups to develop key skills and also for small group learning sessions to support the lecture courses. These sessions are weekly in term one, and fortnightly in term two.
  • students also meet their tutors individually at the start and end of every term 
  • tutors also provide pastoral support as appropriate
  • further academic support is provided by the Director of Learning and Teaching
  • further pastoral support is provided by the Department's Education Support Officer, who can also support students in accessing College level support.

Why is being in a research focused Department important?

The links between teaching and research are important for any contemporary degree environment. Geography graduates need experience in what is at the forefront of their subject (research-led teaching), they need to understand the processes involved in ‘doing’ geography (research orientated teaching), and they need to experience enquiry-based learning (research-based teaching).

The Geography degree programmes at Royal Holloway are designed to incorporate all of these elements.

What does ‘research focused’ mean?

What is the link between research and teaching? 

How do we help develop your research skills?

Video: Introduction to field courses in the department


Comment on this page

Did you find the information you were looking for? Is there a broken link or content that needs updating? Let us know so we can improve the page.

Note: If you need further information or have a question that cannot be satisfied by this page, please call our switchboard on +44 (0)1784 434455.

This window will close when you submit your comment.

Add Your Feedback