BSc (Hons) Geography (Including Foundation Year)


Accredited by the Royal Geographical Society, this foundation course in Geography is designed for students who do not meet the admissions criteria for direct entry to the BSc (Hons) Geography degree. You’ll start by completing a foundation year, which provides well structured support, allowing you to develop your scientific skills and knowledge.

Our Geography degree emphasises issues that shape people and places in a global society. You'll investigate critical issues that are challenging the 21st century, from the local to global scale and analyse the relationship between human and non-human environments, and how to sustain their delicate balance.

You'll explore how the environment affects society, its economy and culture, and in turn, how we adapt and transform that environment.

Field courses ensure a rich experiential degree. Previous fieldwork locations have included Sicily, Greece, New York, Hong Kong, Uganda and South Africa.

Top 10 in the UK for Geography and Environmental Studies for the past two years and top in Wales for Geography and Environmental Studies (Guardian League Table 2020-21).

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2021/22 update: Blended learning approach for USW courses.

[Update excludes online-only courses].

The wellbeing and health and safety of our students and staff is paramount to us. We are committed to delivering all of our courses and services as safely as possible. Due to the pandemic, the methods and activities adopted for the coming year may differ from those previously published and may be subject to further change through the course of your study if such change is necessary due to public health concerns, health and safety guidance or in response to Government Guidelines. USW is committed to providing you with a fantastic student experience and a wealth of support, and you can hear how students have benefitted from this approach here: Learn more about blended learning.

UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
37X2 Full-time 4 Years September Glyntaff A
UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
37X2 Full-time 4 Years September Glyntaff A

Each year you will explore a diversity of critical issues challenging people, places and environments at local, national and global scales. You will also build your knowledge and skills through structured pathways of study which elevates the student learning experience and graduate employability to a significantly higher level through extended work placements, opportunities to work on community projects and individual research projects.

The Foundation Year will provide an opportunity for you to study both the physical and social sciences, and to gain further technical background. Successful completion will enable you to progress to year one of the degree programme.

Foundation Year: Geography degree

  • Key Ideas in Geography: The module will introduce you to a diversity of key ideas and skills applicable to the study of geography in the early twenty first century. It will explore the Earth, human relationships with the earth and people’s relationships with one another, all of which vary across time and space. Key among these are ideas of space, place, time, scale, landscape, nature, global systems, development and risk which will provide an understanding of both the human and physical world and illustrate the interdisciplinary linkages and tensions between them.

  • Geo-field Techniques: Fieldwork is central to Geography and Geology providing the student with first-hand experience of the issues which will be explored during their course of study. The UK based fieldwork undertaken will depend on the student cohort and will use a range of appropriate data collection techniques which can be applied to both quantitative and qualitative analysis. This active engagement with the external world in a given fieldwork location will provide the opportunity for the student to apply methods to more complex field environments, identifying problems and designing research.

  • Foundations of Earth Science: The module will focus on rock types and rock formation, and the resources extracted from rocks, particularly in the context of the UK. This will include an introduction to rocks, minerals and fossils, using them to discover and understand the history of the Earth and life on Earth. This will include an introduction to: plate tectonics, rocks and hydrocarbons, rocks and water, climates in earth history and the Geology of other planets.

  • Foundation Ecology and Environmental Science: A basic consideration of what we understand by “the environment” will be introduced, followed by an overview of ecological processes and the principles ecosystems and environments inhabited by living organisms. This will provide a foundation to understanding principal human impacts on the natural environment. The module will also include an overview of basic methods of environmental sampling and measurement.

  • Key Skills and Professional Development: This module will develop the key kills required to complete a degree and continue to engage in lifelong learning: such skills include: identifying learning strategies, critical thinking, academic writing/practice, presentation skills, preparation for employment, and professional conduct. You will be introduced to academic life and expectations, beginning with identifying your own strengths and weaknesses as an active learner, you will then evaluate and reflect on your approach to learning and utilise new skills to improve your experience.

  • Scientific Data Literacy: Using accessible examples and simple terms, this module looks to provide you with the understanding of and ability to apply simple mathematical tools that will allow you to obtain, interpret, manipulate, present and explain the significance of scientific data and appreciate the role mathematics plays in the sciences. This will include; understanding and manipulating numbers; an introduction to quantitative science, units and measurement; the principles of basic arithmetic, decimals and the use of significant figures, fractions, indices and scientific notation.

Year One: Geography degree

  • Introductory Geography Research Skills: This module introduces students to field and research skills that underpin human and physical geography. You will undertake UK residential fieldwork that will develop your practical skills through data collection, analysis and interpretation techniques.

  • Landform Systems: The module aims to introduce you to the principles of pedology and geomorphology, including surface processes and the resultant landforms and features.

  • Spaces of Urban and Rural Transformation: This module examines contemporary processes of transformation that shape the social, cultural, economic and political dynamics of urban and rural space. You will develop a geographical understanding of current issues and how we can better plan for the future of our cities, towns and countryside.

  • Place, Nation and Identity: The module introduces place, as a central site of human life, where everyday geographies and identities are formed. It then goes on to explore ideas of the nation, its constitution and how in turn it can become socially and spatially fragmented through varying identities and power structures. It draws on issues of the state, devolution, nationalism and welfare.

  • Introduction to Data Analysis and GIS: You will examine a range of methods which will allow you to process, analyse, manipulate, display and present geographical/earth science data. It will also be introduced to the wide spread usages and applications of G.I.S. with a variety of geospatial data.

  • The Dynamic Earth: The module will introduce you a wide breadth of Earth Science at an introductory level. This will provide a broad introduction to the Earth, including its physical structure, surface, form and the large scale systems that shape and affect it.

Year Two: Geography degree

  • Reconstructing Change: You will examine the principles and methodologies of palaeoecological and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction techniques, and review some of their applications and limitations in terrestrial and marine environments.
  • Participatory Geography: This module will introduce you to the collaborative approach of participatory geography that seeks to affect social change through action-orientated research. You will gain practical skills in designing participatory methods by actively working alongside local community groups on development projects.
  • Dynamic Fluvial and Glacial Systems: The module will develop a critical understanding of the geomorphological processes and landscapes that result from the movement of water across the landscape.

  • Geographies of Global Consumption: This module examines the geographical significance of consumption. It begins by assessing how our relationship with commodities shape shifting global networks of production and consumption. You will focus on issues such as trade, market competition and ethical consumption. The module later explores how cultures of consumption inform the spatialities, socialities and subjectivities of everyday life.

  • The Sustainable Society: The module conceptually introduces sustainable development as set of principles that guide much of contemporary social life. It focuses on global economies, societies and environmental issues through globalisation, and examines how competing political ideologies challenge globally sustainable societies.

  • Techniques in Geography: The module will focus on key geographical challenges facing the world at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Residential fieldwork will be undertaken which will utilise a range of techniques including terrain analysis, mapping, survey work, geophysical investigation and more.

Year Three: Geography degree

  • Geography Project: This project is the opportunity for students to specialise in a particular area of geography that interests them. Projects will be supported by specialist academic staff who will work with students to develop a programme of research on their given topic. This module also incorporates opportunities for work placements to significantly elevate student’s profiles in a competitive graduate market.

  • Management of Environmental Hazards: The module will allow you to predict and assess the risks posed by the wide range of environmental hazard types that can affect human life and society and explain the issues and problems involved in the mitigation of hazards and evaluate the strategies used to manage them.

  • Climate Change: You will critically examine the causes, consequences and records of climatic change on a variety of spatial and temporal scales from natural and anthropogenic causes.

  • Geographies of Citizenship: Democracy, Rights and Participation: This module examines the geographical relations between people, politics and space through the concept of citizenship and contemporary political events. You will explore how the term has been adopted by governments, protest movements and freedom fighters alike to empower and affect change. It considers how citizenship is performed in everyday spatial contexts and through global networks.

  • Social Geography: Dwelling and Difference: Social geography is the study of different social groups, including class, gender, ethnicity and sexuality, and their spatial distribution. This module critically investigates these groups through the spaces in which they live at different scales. It examines geographical understandings of housing, home, neighbourhoods and dwelling.

  • Landscape, Heritage and Memory (optional): The module adopts a seminar approach, to investigate the relationship between landscape and culture. It then focuses on landscapes of heritage and memory, both culturally and politically, to understand how these shape understandings of the past. This is reinforced through a number of field courses, that investigate curation, UNESCO designation and power.

  • Earth Observation (optional): You will explore the use of remote sensing, satellite and UAV imagery in environmental management and develop intermediate practical skills in data fusion of RS and GIS datasets and understand how the products are applied to a wide range of environmental issues.


This Geography degree is taught via a mixture of lectures, workshops, seminars, tutorials, practical laboratory work and community project work. Fieldwork, both day and residential also provides the ideal opportunity for building your transferable skills.

The degree incorporates training in industry-standard software in GIS, remote sensing, and quantitative and qualitative data capture and analysis to further develop your technical skills.

The number of hours of formal teaching will vary depending on your module choice and year of study and can be timetabled throughout the week. Fieldwork is also timetabled, including both day, half day and residential. Normally, depending on the module, it will consist of 48 hours of contact and 152 hours of independent study.


You will be assessed using a range of approaches depending on your module choice and year of study which could include: essays, examinations, laboratory reports, group project work, oral and poster presentations. Other assessment methods may include reflective report writing, community-based strategy development, consultancy-style reports, and multimedia project work.


This Geography degree 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.

Field Trips

The University’s location for fieldwork is second to none. Cardiff, Wales’s 
capital city, the Brecon Beacons National Park, and the Glamorgan
 Heritage Coast are all nearby and provide a natural laboratory for study.

We offer a rich and diverse international portfolio of fieldwork too. You
could study sustainable heritage management in Athens or volcanic activity and hazard management in Santorini. If that’s not enough, you could
explore conservation in action on safari in South Africa, journey through Durban’s foodscape, or consider coastal processes and pressures along Kwa Zulu-Natal’s coastline. Learning in and through these diverse locations will provide unforgettable experiences and essential skills.

Field courses and the opportunity for residential fieldwork ensure a rich experiential degree. Previous fieldwork locations have included Sicily, Malta, Italy, New York, Hong Kong and Uganda.

There may be additional costs associated with this course


As well as making use of the great outdoors, students on our Geography degrees work in modern laboratories and classrooms. USW students enjoy a modern learning environment, with purpose-built labs and industry-standard research and specialist software that currently includes ArcGIS, ERDAS and RockWorks.



Featured Lecturer:
Dr Jonathan Duckett

Dr Jonathan Duckett

Dr Jonathan Duckett focuses on the intersection of social, cultural and political geography. His previous research has examined contemporary issues of youth citizenship and national identity in the context of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Scottish independence referendum. Read about his Geography research here.


  • Dr Tony Harris, course leader, specialises in climate change, environmental change, and resilience. He has worked with local and national Government partners, and NGOs.
  • Dr Jonathan Duckett specializes in human geography and has undertaken research that assesses the impact of cultural and political events. His work has examined how young people participated as citizens through the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Scottish independence referendum.
  • Dr Thomas Lambourne is a lecturer in human geography and specialises in social geography. His research areas include citizen participation, neighbourhood geographies, housing and home.
  • Dr Angela Morris specialises in marine micropalynology for environmental reconstruction; the potential of dinoflagellate cysts as indicators of environmental change; and the Eutrophication of British coastal waters
  • Niamh Breslin is a lecturer in spatial analysis. Her research interests include the use of GIS and remote sensing for large mammal reintroductions and invasive species management, and in the growing application of drone technology for environmental monitoring.
  • Dr Gareth Powell, engineering geology
  • Dr Sorcha Diskin, geochemistry
  • Dr Malcolm Thomas, remote sensing, Academic Subject Manager

See our latest Geography research.


Entry criteria detail typical offers but USW considers all applications on an individual basis which means that we could make offers based on qualifications, personal profile and experience. Combinations of qualifications are acceptable and other qualifications not listed may also be acceptable.

Typical A-Level Offer

EE excluding General Studies

Typical Welsh BACC Offer


Typical BTEC Offer

BTEC Extended Diploma Pass Pass Pass or BTEC Diploma Pass Pass in a relevant subject

Typical IB Offer

Pass the International Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum of 80 UCAS tariff points from Higher Levels

Typical Access to HE Offer

Pass the Access to HE Diploma and obtain a minimum of 80 UCAS tariff points

Additional Requirements

GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 3 GCSEs including Mathematics and English at Grade C/Grade 4 or above, or their equivalent but consideration is given to individual circumstances

International Entry Requirements

We also welcome international applications with equivalent qualifications. Please visit the country specific pages on our international website for exact details.

English Requirements

In general, international applicants will need to have achieved an overall IELTS grade of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component.

However, if you have previously studied through the medium of English IELTS might not be required, but please visit the country specific page on our international website for exact details. If your country is not featured please contact us.

Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.

Find out how to pay your tuition fees in full or by payment plan.

This course is eligible under the Enhanced Learning Credits scheme for Ex-Armed Forces personnel.

International Scholarships are available for self-funding international students.

August 2021 - July 2022 Fees

  • Full-time UK:  £9000

  • Full-time International:  £13800 

August 2022 - July 2023 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Kit (Uniform and Equipment) * £50 - £180
Field work requires rugged walking boots/shoes and waterproof and thermal clothing.
Field Trips * £50 - £75
Field trips in the UK will be paid for by the University. Students will be expected to provide food.
Please note that students who successfuly secure a placement in industry or abroad to complete their projects would be expected to pay for their own travelling costs to and from the venue during the period of placement. The cost of this will of course vary and some students have also paid for accomodation close to their place of work for the duration of their placement. Students are provided with reading lists but are not expected to buy any books, instead students are actively encouraged to make use of the extensive learning resources of the University. Many books are available as ebooks. The course uses the many computing facilities of the Glyntaff campus (students are not expected to buy their own computer but having a personal PC will help with their studies)

UK and EU students

Apply via UCAS if you are a UK/EU residing applicant, applying for year one of a full-time undergraduate degree, Foundation Year, Foundation Degree or HND and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly

International students

Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK/EU. 

Admissions statement

Graduates of this Geography degree have varied careers in the UK and overseas. They are adept in collecting and analysing information using technical and laboratory methods. They can also recognise and articulate the moral and ethical issues involved in debates and enquiries. Graduates typically enter employment with local and central government agencies and planning departments. They also build careers in environmental management or consultancies, conservation agencies, geo-science, specialist mapping, specialist GIS and computing technology, and utility companies. A number of students from our Geography course progress to taught or postgraduate research, such as Masters by Research and PhD, in environmental and conservation areas, or undertake further training in teaching or management. 

Our Careers and Employability Service

As a USW Geography  student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.

This includes: one-to-one appointments from faculty based Career Advisers, in person, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the "Ask a Question" service. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself well to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.

Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.