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). 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 Geographymay be of interest instead.
Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.
These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.
Standard entry grades: AAAB
Minimum entry grades: AABB
Gateway entry grades: BBBB
Standard entry grades: AAA
Minimum entry grades: ABB
Standard entry grades: 38 (HL 6,6,6)
Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5)
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.
If English is not your first language you will need an overall 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.
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.
The University of St Andrews as a whole was voted top in the UK for student academic experience in The National Student Survey 2019 as 95% of St Andrews final year students were satisfied with the quality of the learning and teaching experience.
The University has secured a TEF Gold Award for the quality of teaching and the undergraduate experience.
Find out more about studying Geography at St Andrews.
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.
Students will take two compulsory 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 compulsory 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:
Colonial and Postcolonial Geography
Environmental Management in Scotland
HIV/AIDs in Sub-Saharan Africa
Ice and Climate
Political and Cultural Geographies of the Border
Scrutinising Segregation: Geographies of Diversity and Inequality
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 compulsory modules listed here must be taken 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.
In first year, teaching centres on lectures (150 to 200 students), small group tutorials (8 to 10 students), and day long field trips.
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 residential 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 international 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 aims to provide feedback on every assessment within three weeks to help you improve on future assessments.
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.
Online visiting days
If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join one of our online visiting days to learn about the town, find out about our courses and talk to University staff.
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.
In taking a "with" degree, you are required to take core modules in all of your subjects. Find out more about joint degrees.
Reflecting 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.
Employers seek out Geography graduates because of their rare combination of quantitative and qualitative skills, their ability to integrate and analyse diverse data, their understanding of human and environment interactions, their competence in GIS and spatial analysis, and their ability to think critically and creatively about the big social and environmental challenges facing us.
Career paths include:
tourism and leisure
planning and development
business and finance
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.
Geography students may participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the Study Abroad site.
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 University buildings are located throughout the 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 makes it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland.
“Geography encompasses so many different subjects and different points of view that it will help you gain a broader perspective on the world. The lecturers are so passionate about the subject. There are so many opportunities to go out and experience the topic we are discussing in person, and it helps to learn about the subject and how it is relevant to our everyday lives.”
Mia (Michigan, USA)
School of Geography and Sustainable Development University of St Andrews Irvine Building North Street St Andrews KY16 9AL
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).