STUDENT LIFE / JUL. 04, 2015
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Top 10 UK Universities for Geography 2015

So you’ve decided to study Geography? Good choice! Studying geography means so much more than just becoming an expert at reading maps; it’s about understanding the world around us and how it works.

See Also: Top 10 US Universities for Geography 2015

A degree in Geography gives you the opportunity to choose one of two directions: physical geography, learning about nature and the environment, or human geography, learning about society and why it works the way it does. At the end, you could become a teacher, a cartographer, or even be a part of preventing the world’s next natural disaster.

If you’ve decided which direction you’d like to follow, these are the top ten universities for geography:

 

 

1. Cambridge

Studying at Cambridge means studying at the university ranked #2 in the 2015 world rankings, beaten only by America’s Harvard University.

It’s one of 4 universities on this list that operate a college system: when you’re accepted, you’re placed in a college that acts as both your halls of residence and the place where you have tutorials with just a couple of course mates after the big lectures. At Cambridge, you also get to stay in your college for the entirety of your student life, unlike other universities where you often need to find private accommodation after your first year.  

Quick stats:

  • Fees: £9,000 for UK/EU students, £15,713 for international students.
  • 94.1% Students satisfied with this course.
  • 11.7 Student to staff ratio.
  • 83% Students either in a career or further study after six months.
  • Alumni include Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton and David Harvey.

2. Durham

Durham University
unisocialspace

Durham University is the entry on this list with the highest percentage of students in a career or further study after six months, who get a median salary of £22,000. That, combined with a 90.6% satisfaction rate and 13 student to staff ratio, makes Durham an attractive choice. Durham also operates a college system, but unlike Cambridge it is primarily for first year students, with the option to return to the student halls in your third or fourth year.

Quick stats:

  • Fees: £9,000 for UK/EU students, £14,900 for international students.
  • 90.6% Students satisfied with this course.
  • 13 The student to staff ratio.
  • 87% Students either in a career or further study after six months.
  • Fun fact: there’s a module in Education Studies called "Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion." Sadly, it doesn’t teach illusion tricks.

3. St Andrews

It might not appear on the World rankings for this year, but St Andrews is #3 on the Guardian’s top 10 list. Here are three reasons you might want to consider it:

  • for those who like peace, it’s a small town rather than a big city.
  • for those who like the beach (or have never seen one) it has three of them.
  • for those who like golf, St Andrews is where it was invented and it often hosts major competitions as a result.

Accommodation is available, but it is only guaranteed for first year students; returning students can apply but are advised to be prepared not to be successful. UK/EU fees are £9,000 and international fees are £17,040.

Quick stats:

  • 92.3% students satisfied with this course.
  • 10 student to staff ratio.
  • 70% students either in a career or further study after six months.
  • Royal alumni include King James II, Prince William and Kate Middleton.

4. Cardiff

Over to Wales to #4, Cardiff, with some impressive statistics: 100% of students are satisfied with this course; 97% with the teaching and 77.2% with the feedback. It also has the lowest student to staff ratio, with just 5 students to every teacher.  

Geography students will be at the Cathays Park campus, close to the city centre and home of the Student Union. First year students and overseas students are guaranteed accommodation in nearby residences, with separate flats for Welsh speakers or those who have gone to learn Welsh. Cardiff itself is a small, friendly, inexpensive city with all the amenities of a larger city.

Quick stats:

  • Fees: £9,000 for UK/EU students, £17,500 for international students.
  • 100% students satisfied with this course.
  • 5 student to staff ratio.
  • 78% students either in a career or further study after six months.
  • Notable alumni include Huw Edwards, Martin Lewis and Nathan Cleverly.

5. University of East Anglia (UEA)

The University of East Anglia is in Norwich and it is one of the top 10 shopping cities in the UK where history meets a vibrant social scene and low crime rate. The university itself is 5th on this list, and 4th in the UK for environmental sciences.

Accommodation is only guaranteed for the first year, and you have a variety of choices. You could live in the Ziggurats, voted as one of the best examples of university architecture in the country, or if you’re environmentally conscious, the Green Flats which are designed to promote an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Quick stats:

  • Fees: £9,000 for UK/EU students, £17,500 for international students.
  • 98.1% students satisfied with this course.
  • 10.3 student to staff ratio.
  • 69% students either in a career or further study after six months.
  • Famous alumni include Jude Law, John Rhys Davies and Jack Davenport.

6. Lancaster

Lancaster University is ideally placed; plenty of countryside if you like peace and good views, without being in the middle of nowhere. It’s just a 5 minute drive to the M6 motorway and 10 minutes from the railway that connects to Manchester, London and Scotland. If you like cycling, there’s even a traffic-free route for you from the campus to the city outskirts.

Accommodation is provided for first years; Lancaster, like Cambridge and Durham, operates a college system, each one with its own history, logo and reason it might appeal to you. UK/EU fees are £9,000 and international fees are £17,470.

Quick stats:

  • 91.1% students satisfied with this course.
  • 14.6 student to staff ratio.
  • 68% students either in a career or further study after six months.
  • Famous alumni include David Watson, Andrew Miller and Andy Serkis.

7. Oxford

Why choose Oxford? 

  • 3rd on the world rankings for 2015
  • The average starting salary for its graduates last year was £25,000
  • A 24-hour bus system can get you to London in 90 minutes

Oxford University is the oldest in the English speaking world. It’s a non-campus university with buildings spread throughout the city, including 30 colleges (12 for Geography students) which guarantee accommodation for your first year and may allow you to stay beyond your first year. 

Geography students need to have taken the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA), which should be offered through your school or college. When you’re accepted, you get to learn in well-equipped Geolabs and take a one week practical fieldtrip in your second year to either Copenhagen or Tenerife.

Quick stats:

  • Fees: £9,000 for UK/EU students, £14,845 for international students.
  • 88.6% students satisfied with this course.
  • 13.7 student to staff ratio.
  • 77% students either in a career or further study after six months.
  • Famous alumni include Stephen Hawking and Tim Berners-Lee.
  • Oxonians have been competing in the Olympics since 1896 and won a total of 158 medals.

8. Glasgow

Glasgow
gla.ac.uk

Back to Scotland for the University of Glasgow; the fourth-oldest university in the English speaking world was founded in 1451 in the UK’s third largest city (and Scotland’s largest) and the world’s friendliest city of 2014.

In addition to accommodation for at least the first year, students have the opportunity to take a year abroad, undertake a Massive Open Online Course and get assistance with finding work experience opportunities from Club 21.

For Geography buffs, there are spectacular and accessible landscapes that provide a unique natural laboratory of different kinds of landforms, rock exposures and ancient volcanoes. You will get to do laboratory projects in outstanding facilities and dissertations that could even get you published.

Quick stats:

  • Fees: £9,000 for UK/EU students, £18,200 for international students.
  • 92.8% students satisfied with this course.
  • 14.3 student to staff ratio.
  • 71% students either in a career or further study after six months.
  • Magical: there’s a rumour that the main building was the inspiration for Hogwarts and that the producers even wanted to film there.

9. Bristol

  • 1st overall for Geography
  • 5th in the UK for research (joint with the University of Oxford)

Bristol University is located in a smaller city with all the perks of a bigger city; it’s easy to explore on foot or by bike, whether you want to see the Clifton Suspension Bridge, visit one of the 450 parks, go on a ferry ride or cycle through the Downs. You don’t even need to leave the university to enjoy excellent sport facilities, live music or a theatre performance.

Accommodation is guaranteed for the first year for all UK, EU and international undergraduates. UK/EU fees are £9,000 and international fees are £18,300.

Quick stats:

  • 92% students satisfied with this course.
  • 13.3 student to staff ratio.
  • 80% students either in a career or further study after six months.
  • Famous alumni include David Walliams, Matt Lucas and Simon Pegg.

10. Edinburgh

Scotland, again, for the University of Edinburgh. Just because it’s last on the list doesn’t mean it should be underestimated - don’t forget that the lower-ranked a university is (within reason), the less competition for places.

Some of the things Edinburgh rates higher in:

  • Voted "Favourite UK City" for 13 consecutive years.
  • the School of GeoSciences has the most world-leading and internationally excellent researchers in the UK.
  • 83% of their research activity is rated as "world leading" or "internationally excellent".
  • 4th in the UK for research, and the most successful in Scotland.

Geography students have access to excellent laboratory facilities, and their fieldwork trips take them as far as Iceland, Turkey or the Netherlands. In your third year you may choose to join an exchange programme for the chance to study in another country.

Accommodation is guaranteed for first year students. UK/EU fees are £9,000 and international fees are £20,850.

Quick stats:

  • 83.2% students satisfied with this course.
  • 10.6 student to staff ratio.
  • 69% students either in a career or further study after six months.

See Also: 5 Interesting Career Options for Geography Graduates

Has this helped you decide, or given you ten other universities to consider? Have you already made a different choice - or been to a different university - that you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments section below.

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