Geography MA (Hons) 2019 entry

The MA (Hons) in Geography explores a fascinating range of important environmental and international phenomena including glaciers and ice ages; climate and weather; environmental change and management; population change, migration and border politics; urbanisation, development and geopolitical conflict; socio-spatial inequalities (widening gaps in wealth, health and wellbeing); and environmental economics. It provides an exciting challenge to those who wish to think critically and creatively about the world around them, and understand the interaction of environmental systems and human activity.

Geography is studied up to Honours level in both the Faculty of Science (BSc) and the Faculty of Arts (MA). Students who have a background in the Arts or who wish to study Geography alongside Arts subjects at St Andrews should apply for the MA. For those interested in studying Geography alongside Science subjects, the BSc in Geography may be of interest instead.

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UCAS code


Course type

Master of Arts (single Honours degree)

Course duration

Four years full time

  • Start date: 9 September 2019
  • End date: 30 June 2023

If you started this programme in 2018, you can find information about 2018 entry on the 2018 Geography MA (Hons) page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Entry requirements

SQA Highers AAAB
GCE A-Levels AAA
IB points 38

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes, please see our entry requirements for more information.

For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject specific entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.

International applicants

If English is not your first language you will need an IELTS score of 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English Language qualification.

How to apply

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

No previous knowledge of Geography is required.

Faculty entry requirements

You must also meet the Faculty of Arts minimum qualifications. These vary depending on which qualifications you hold.

Other qualifications

Passes in other examinations at equivalent levels and subjects may be accepted by the Dean of the Faculty. More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements webpage.

Find out more about Faculty of Arts entry requirements.


St Andrews students must meet with their Adviser of Studies at the beginning of Semester 1 in September to complete advising – a compulsory part of the matriculation process. After module choices have been decided, a timetable will be allocated indicating the dates and times of classes.

Course information

The MA (Hons) in Geography is a four-year course run by the School of Geography and Sustainable Development. The School also offers a BSc in Geography, which may be more suitable for students who wish to take Geography alongside Science subjects. The Geography element within both the BSc and MA degree programmes is exactly the same.

In the first two years, you will develop an integrated, coherent vision of the world exploring the complex interrelationships between people and the planet, and the implications of humans becoming a force of nature. You will also gain a conceptual and applied (methods-orientated) grounding in physical, environmental and human geography.

Alongside Geography in the first year of your studies, you will be required to study an additional two subjects. In the second year you will usually carry on at least one of these subjects, sometimes two. Find out more about how academic years are organised.

At Honours level, students may choose to specialise in one aspect of Geography or to engage with the full, fascinating breadth of the discipline. Specialist subject areas may include:

  • climate and weather systems
  • development, politics and inequality
  • glaciers and glaciation
  • migration and transnationalism
  • natural resource management.

Final year students must also complete a 10,000-word dissertation on a topic chosen in consultation with teaching staff at the School of Geography and Sustainable Development.

Throughout the course there are opportunities to undertake fieldwork both locally and overseas. Recent locations have included Norway, the Pyrenees, Iceland and Galway.

The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure webpage.

Find out more about studying Geography at St Andrews.


In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours) you will take the required modules in Geography alongside modules in at least one other subject in the Faculty of Arts.

Typically, you will take a total of three modules per semester during your first two years, and two modules per semester during your third and fourth year (known as Honours). Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.

Students will take two Geography modules in their first year.

  • Welcome to the Anthropocene: Society, Population, Environment: showcases how Geography as a discipline is uniquely placed to understand our changing world.
  • A World in Crisis?: explores how Geography works as a ‘world discipline’ to examine global problems from a range of human, environmental and physical geography perspectives.

Students will take two Geography modules in their second year.

  • Geographies of Global Change: encourages students to think 'geographically' about particular physical and human dimensions of global change.
  • (Re)constructing Environments, People and Places: explores how and why different peoples, places and bio-physical and social processes operate in both time and space. 

If you decide to take Geography in your third and fourth years, you can choose to specialise in one aspect of Geography or to engage with the full, fascinating breadth of the discipline.

Here is a sample of Honours modules which have been offered in previous years:

  • Advanced Debates in Geography
  • Coasts and Coastal Processes
  • Colonial and Postcolonial Geography
  • Environmental Management
  • Political and Cultural Geographies of the Border
  • Socio-Ecological Systems.

In fourth year, students also undertake a 10,000-word dissertation on a topic of their choice. This independent project enables you to develop key research skills which are desired by both prospective employers and by graduate schools offering postgraduate degrees.

The sub-honours modules listed here are the compulsory modules that students must take in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours-level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules available for the current academic year can be found in the module catalogue.


Teaching format

In first year, teaching centres on lectures (150 to 200 students), weekly small group tutorials (8 to 10 students), and a two-day field trip.

In second year, modules are delivered through lectures (80 to 120 students), practical classes (15 to 20 students), tutorials (8 to 12 students), and a three-day field trip.

At Honours level, greater emphasis is put on individual study and on students taking a major role in preparing for, and conducting, laboratories and seminars (10 to 50 students), and an eight-day field trip. 

When not attending lectures, tutorials and practical classes, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve:

  • working on individual and group projects
  • undertaking research in the library
  • preparing coursework assignments and presentations
  • preparing for examinations.

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of Geography. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of laboratory classes and seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

You can find contact information for all Geography staff on the School of Geography and Sustainable Development website.

In addition to your studies in the School of Geography and Sustainable Development, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University.

The University’s student services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities webpage.


All sub-honours modules are assessed by a balanced combination of coursework and written exams. At Honours level, some modules are assessed by 100% coursework, while others include at least 40% coursework and a wide range of innovative assessment formats.

Examinations are held at the end of each semester during a dedicated exam diet with revision time provided beforehand.

The School of Geography and Sustainable Development provides feedback on every assessment, with a view to improving your performance in future, and aims to provide feedback on assessments and coursework within three weeks.

Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please visit the common reporting scale webpage.

Visit St Andrews

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


Upcoming visiting days:

  • Wednesday 25 September 2019
  • Wednesday 2 October 2019
  • Wednesday 16 October 2019
  • Wednesday 23 October 2019
  • Wednesday 30 October 2019


Tuition fees for 2019 entry

Scotland and EU £1,820
Rest of the UK £9,250
Overseas £22,350

For overseas students, tuition fees will be fixed at this level for the duration of your programme.

More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.

Accommodation fees

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to undergraduate students each year.

Funding for fieldwork

Fieldwork expenses for Geography students are subsidised by the Irvine Bequest and contributions from alumni. There are financial awards at every level of study for students who have earned the highest marks in fieldwork.

Find out more about undergraduate scholarships.

Joint Honours degrees

You can take Geography as part of a joint Honours degree alongside one of the following subjects.

"With" degrees

You can take Geography as part of a "with" Honours degree in which the majority of the course deals with the first named subject.

Your future


Because of the broad nature of Geography, graduates leave St Andrews with a diverse and unique skill set, putting them in a very strong position in the jobs market.

While Geography is closely associated with certain particular careers (for example, in the environmental sphere), and some graduates pursue these very successfully, many others find that their geographical training equips them with a valuable array of transferable skills which open up a rich diversity of career opportunities, including:

  • banking and property management 
  • cartography
  • civil service
  • conservation
  • estate management
  • location and security analysis
  • meteorology
  • surveying
  • urban regeneration.

Many graduate students are also successful in competing for postgraduate opportunities, both nationally and internationally, at both Masters and PhD level.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Study abroad

The University is delighted to offer undergraduates a number of exciting opportunities to apply to spend a semester or year abroad as part of a St Andrews degree programme. St Andrews is partnered with large and small institutions, ancient and young, across the globe. What unites all of our programmes is the quality of the academic provision, ensuring that participation in a St Andrews Study abroad programme opens the door to a new and valuable academic experience at another world-class institution. Study Abroad for credit is permitted on existing University-approved programmes only.

Student life

From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.

Students of Geography may be interested in joining GeogSoc, the University’s Geography society. This student-run organisation offers opportunities to meet other enthusiastic geographers at every level of study and to meet staff members outside of lectures so you can really get involved in the School.

The School of Geography and Sustainable Development is housed within the Irvine Building in the historical heart of the University between St Salvator's Quadrangle and St Salvator's Hall. Students will attend tutorials, seminars, lectures and individual meetings with tutors in this building.

The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As the campus is located around town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh make it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland.

Find out more about student life at the University of St Andrews.

Contact information

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


Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our Admissions policy.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online. (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online. (PDF, 84 KB).