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Geography is the integrated study of the Earth’s landscapes, peoples, places and environments. The subject offers insights into some of the most pressing problems currently facing humanity. It is unique in bridging the social sciences (human geography) with its understanding of the dynamics of cultures, societies and economies, and the Earth sciences (physical geography) with physical landscapes and environmental processes.



Geography BSc (Hons)
Geography MA (Hons)

Joint degree options

You can take Geography BSc (Hons) and Geography MA (Hons) with another subject as part of a joint degree or a "with" degree.



Sustainable Development MRes
Sustainable Development MSc
Sustainable Development and Energy MSc
Sustainable Development and Environmental Economics MSc


Please contact a supervisor in your research area to inquire about PhD opportunities.

Visit St Andrews

If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at an open day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.


Booking for our autumn visiting days will open in early September 2017.

  • Wednesday 27 September 2017
  • Wednesday 4 October 2017
  • Wednesday 18 October 2017
  • Wednesday 25 October 2017
  • Wednesday 1 November 2017



  • November 2017 - date to be confirmed.

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Geography research areas

The School of Geography and Sustainable Development aims to be world-leading in all aspects of research. The School hosts a number of externally funded research centres and also organises an extensive programme of external events including colloquia, seminars and conferences.

Research is organised around five main themes, with many members of the School often carrying out research in more than one theme.

Population and health

Research in this area is focused on the dynamics of population change, new migrations and mobilities and health inequalities, especially in the UK but also in the rest of Europe and internationally. 

Research staff:

Housing, neighbourhoods and cities

Key areas of interest include: the functioning and policies of housing systems; social housing and homelessness; neighbourhood effects; housing and sustainability; cities.

Research staff:

  • Dr Nissa Finney: population; ethnicity and migration; methods in demography.
  • Dr Kim McKee: housing policy; urban regeneration strategy.
  • Dr Louise Reid: environmental behaviour; household energy consumption; subjective well-being; diary methodology.

Power, representation and behaviour

This research area is informed by post-structuralist, post-colonial and feminist perspectives. Research explores geographies of difference across a range of spatial scales.

Research staff:

  • Dr Dan Clayton: historical and cultural geography; colonialism and post-colonialism.
  • Dr Mike Kesby: gender; AIDS and development in southern Africa.
  • Professor Nina Laurie: gender and development; Latin America; social movements; Neoliberalism; international volunteering; community history.
  • Dr Matthew Sothern: health; cultural and political geographies.
  • Dr Rehema White: biodiversity conflicts; education for sustainability; craft and sustainability.

Environmental economics and policy

Research in environmental economics focuses on areas of environmental cost-benefit analysis and valuation, economics of sustainable development, design of PES systems, ecological-economic modelling, coastal zones, and integration with economic and environmental history.

Research staff:

Environmental change

Research in this area examines the mechanisms, rates and trajectories of past, present and future environmental change at regional to global scales, and the implications for the biosphere and society.

Research staff:

Geography research centres and institutes

The School hosts a number of research centres which provide a specialist focus for staff and postgraduate research activities.

St Andrews Sustainability Institute (SASI)

SASI coordinates interdisciplinary research into sustainable development issues within the University.

Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI)

The School of Geography and Sustainable Development is a partner in the SOI, an interdisciplinary research institute studying the marine environment.

Arctic Research Centre (ARC)

The University of St Andrews and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations have developed a state‐of‐the-­art five­‐year research project on assessing the environmental impact of energy infrastructure development in the Arctic.

Centre for Population Change (CPC)

The CPC carries out a varied programme of collaborative research on fertility and family formation, household change, migration and population modelling.

Centre for Housing Research (CHR)

The CHR conducts policy-relevant research on social and supported housing, both independently and in conjunction with public and voluntary housing agencies.

Geography research portal

Geography facilities

There is a variety of data-logging equipment suitable for library and archive use. GIS hardware and software (ArcView, ArcInfo, MapInfo) resources are available with access to census information, ordinance surveys and other digital databases.

The School has safe setting facilities for the analysis of restricted and sensitive data, and there is a wide range of software available for both quantitative and qualitative data analysis (such as NVivo, SPSS, Stata, MLn, Minitab, SpaceStat plus database management and spreadsheet packages).

Research is supported by an impressive array of equipment and laboratories that also include:

  • support staff
  • research vehicles
  • cartographic services
  • graphics software
  • high specification PCs, scanners, digitisers and printers.

The School of Geography and Sustainable Development shares a number of facilities with the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences in addition to supporting its own dedicated physical sciences laboratory and microscope suite.

Careers for graduates in Geography

The broad nature of Geography provides students with a diverse and unique skill set, putting them in a very strong position in the job market. Geography graduates find careers in industries including:

  • government
  • environment
  • sustainability
  • tourism and leisure
  • planning and development
  • business and finance
  • location and security analysis
  • research science.

See recent graduate employment case studies.

By studying a degree in Geography, you will gain the following skills:

  • knowledge of cultural, political, economic and environmental issues in incorporating local, regional and international perspectives
  • expertise in integrating, analysing and synthesising information from a range of sources
  • project management experience working in teams on laboratory, desk and field-based research
  • well-developed literacy, numeracy and graphicacy skills, and the ability to present these using a range of ICT formats.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Funding opportunities

There is a range of funding opportunities available at all levels of study.


Find out about undergraduate funding opportunities offered by the University of St Andrews.

Undergraduate scholarships

Postgraduate students

There are a number of scholarships and awards available for postgraduate students.

Postgraduate taught scholarships

PhD students

Geography PhD applicants may apply for the Economic and Social Research Council, which covers tuition and some maintenance fees. 

Funding for PhD students


REF 2014

Research in Geography at St Andrews was ranked top in Scotland and fifth in the UK by the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.

University league tables

Geography at St Andrews was ranked top in Scotland and fourth in the UK by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2017 and sixth in the UK by the Complete University Guide 2017 for teaching and research quality, student experience, and graduate prospects.


School of Geography and Sustainable Development
University of St Andrews
Irvine Building
North Street
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

Phone: +44 (0) 1334 46 2894

Geography and Sustainable Development website

Geography research portal