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BSc (Hons) - Geography (with integrated foundation year)

If you'd like to study a degree in geography but have alternative qualifications or don't quite meet our entry criteria, our geography foundation degree is the course for you.

Your foundation year in Carlisle will give you the skills, knowledge and experience needed to progress onto the full BSc (Hons) Geography programme based in the Lake District. Live your geography degree, using the iconic Lake District as your personal laboratory.

Our course encompasses human, physical and environmental geography, and explores many of the key grand challenges that face both humanity and the planet in the 21st century. These include climate change, inequality and difference, and valuing the ecosystem services we derive from the Earth system.


Geography (with integrated foundation year) cover image

Course Overview

Geographers explore the global challenges that face both humanity and the planet in the 21st century. Based on both our Carlisle Fusehill Street campus (integrated foundation year only) and Ambleside campus in the heart of the Lake District, you will embrace the mix of natural and social science and humanities that create the diversity and exuberance we call geography. We will explore the differences and dynamics between culture, political systems, economies and landscapes; but you will also evaluate these as contested spaces that can be viewed through multiple lenses.

Our location allows us to embed high-quality fields, laboratory, geo-spacial and archive work. Residential field-courses at every level take you beyond the Lake District and UK placing your learning in a global context. You will become an effective practitioner with a unique intellectual curiosity and the ability to observe and critically reflect on the world around you.

On this course you will...

  • Following your foundation year, study geography at the University of Cumbria in the Lake District, the UK's only university campus in a UNESCO World Heritage Site – unbeatable natural surroundings that enable you to live your geography degree.
  • Be taught by experienced lecturers who conduct international research that informs your studies and future career progression.
  • Have access to up-to-date technology used in the modern workplace, including advanced Geographical Information Systems and remote sensing.
  • Learn to solve large global challenges and local issues like small-scale flood management, boosting your problem-solving skills.
  • Develop technical, analytical, and interpretative skills through your studies to boost your employability.

Course Structure

What you will learn

We have designed our geography course so you get the opportunity to bring together human, physical and environmental geography. Not only will it give you a breadth of academic knowledge and plenty of hands-on field work, it can be the start you need to shape your successful career.

Throughout your foundation year, you'll begin your studies by exploring wider science and environment practices, settling into university practices, and developing foundational skills needed to progress further.

Our broad spectrum of modules means that alongside physical and environmental geography, you’ll gain a deep knowledge of human geography - looking at the complex issues facing society today and in the future.

Plus, you'll live and learn close to the shores of Windermere Lake, on our friendly Ambleside campus in the stunning Lake District, where you'll be surrounded by a picturesque patchwork of more than 150 lofty peaks, 16 lakes, an abundance of rivers - all home to unique habitats and wildlife.


Our programme explores many of the key grand challenges that face both humanity and the planet in the 21st Century, for example: climate change and its implications; inequality and difference at individual to global levels; and valuing the ecosystem services we derive from the Earth system. Through your studies, you will develop a progressively more sophisticated understanding of geographical thinking within four broad, interconnected thematic strands.

These four themes are developed through a variety of compulsory and optional modules with an increasing level of choice available as you progress through your studies, enabling you to specialise and follow your own interests as you develop as a Geographer.

Year one
  • Essential University Skills 1
    This module develops your academic and professional skills required for effective learning and successful progression through your chosen honours degree programme and beyond.
  • Essential Biology
    To develop knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles of biology, essential to further study in your chosen field.
  • Scientific Investigation
    To explore the protocols associated with scientific investigation.
  • Essential University Skills 2
    You will expand your learning in the areas of research, writing structure and reflective learning. You will also gain skills in presenting research to an audience and in reflecting on your development throughout your integration foundation year.
  • Environmental Sciences
    Introduces field-based skills akin to the natural sciences with interdisciplinary content which relates Human Ecology to Toxicology, Public Health, Epidemiology and Parasitology. Giving you a good foundation in the basic principles required for your degree.
  • Dynamic Earth
    You will study applied aspects of geology, geomorphology, climatology, hydrology and soils within the context of your area of interest. There will be opportunity for laboratory and field classes to support your understanding within a regional context.
Year two
  • Global Challenges
    You will approach and analyse global challenges from many perspectives and explore communicating to a variety of audiences. In doing so, you will develop the range of communication and analysis skills you will need as a geographer.
  • Geographical Techniques
    The aim of this module is to equip you with fundamental methods of constructing geographical data and interpretations, including techniques of field, laboratory and archival research.
  • People and Place
    Students will be introduced to the fundamentals of historical, political and cultural geographies. Through these geographical lenses, you will critically examine local and global challenges in the relationships between people and place.
  • Environment and Resources
    The aim of this module is to introduce you to the fundamentals of economic, development and environmental geography, three of the core themes of Human Geography, through the lens of the ‘resource’.
  • The Earth System
    We will examine the uncertainties that the Earth System faces as a consequence of entering the Anthropocene, an unprecedented phase of Earth history that provides the underlying context for many of the themes explored within Geographical and Environmental research.
  • Ecological Knowledge, Interactions and Change
    Students will develop their ecological thinking and literacy in a variety of local habitats and ecosystems. You will study and explain underpinning ecological concepts and processes that shape ecosystems.
Year three
  • Research Design
    Students will develop an understanding of methodologies and the research method as applied within an environmental context. This module culminates in student-led fieldwork in which you will design, execute and report a research project.
  • Valuing the Environment
    The aim of this module is to explore the concepts associated with valuing the environment including: natural capital, nature’s contribution to people and ecosystem services. You will critically evaluate these as frameworks for enabling people to “value” the environment.
  • Environmental Change: Past Present Future
    Anthropogenic climate change is perhaps the biggest challenge facing humanity in the 21st Century. However, to understand the significance of predicted climate change and its implications, we need to place this in context of how climate and environments have changed in the past.
  • Geographical Information Systems
    The aim of this module is to provide students with a sound understanding of the theory and application of GIS in a manner relevant to their field of study and potential future employment.
  • The Catchment: Summit to Sea (Optional)
    The catchment can be considered the fundamental building-block of landscape, and this module develops an integrated understanding of the processes that shape catchments from local and global scales.
  • Culture, Identity and Place (Optional)
    This module enables you to examine and analyse complex relationships between culture, identity and place. The extent to which these relationships influence people’s geographical experiences will be examined using critical and creative approaches.
  • Rural Economy and Society (Optional)
    The aims of this module are to allow you to investigate in depth the functioning of rural areas as regards to their economy and society, and to explore how these two interrelate with the wider natural environment.
  • Habitats and Ecosystems (Optional)
    You will investigate the interactions within and between ecosystems together with the influence of stakeholders on the management of such habitats.The influence of access and other legislative processes will be considered on the development and resulting habitats through a series of field visits.
Year four
  • Dissertation
    This module provides an opportunity to develop research skills and gain valuable experience in project management and research dissemination. A key component of all research is considering who the intended audience is, and how the findings will be disseminated.
  • Researching Environmental Change: Field-course
    Allows you to critically explore an aspect of the key geographical issue of environmental change within a field-trip. You will spend two days engaging in introductory tutor-led context and fieldwork, before designing, executing and reporting a small research project during the field-course.
  • Science and Politics of Climate Change
    Evaluating climate culture will lead into an exploration of how we can most effectively respond to this challenge at local to global scales within multiple environmental contexts.
  • Creative Cultural Geographies (Optional)
    This module provides you with the opportunity to examine critically and creatively what it means to be a cultural geographer. It interrogates geographical practices, methodologies and approaches to the (re)production, maintenance and transformation of cultural worlds.
  • Upland Resource Management (Optional)
    The aim of this module is to critically evaluate the complex relationships between resource users and managers in upland environments. We will also have an opportunity to discuss the effectiveness of some solutions and design our own for a known area.
  • Cold Environments (Optional)
    The cryosphere is one of the most sensitive (and influential) elements of our global climate system, responding to, and driving rapid climate changes. This module aims to give you an advanced understanding of the processes and explore the broader significance of the cryosphere for humans and Earth.
  • Advanced GIS and Remote Sensing (Optional)
    The aim of this module is to provide students with the skills and knowledge to plan and implement projects using GIS and remote sensing to solve issues in the fields of conservation and natural resources management.
  • Aquatic and Catchment Resource Management (Optional)
    This module aims to provide you with an opportunity to undertake an independent piece of in-depth research into a topic of your choice that is related to the fields of animal conservation science and conservation biology.
  • Contemporary Global Conservation (Optional)
    Students will critically evaluate of the application of ecological processes within the context of conservation and sustainability. Where possible the module will be delivered in context to allow specificity, pragmatism and depth.

Attend an Open Day at Cumbria

An Open Day is your opportunity to explore one of 5 campuses, meet your lecturers, and find out how the University of Cumbria could become your new home.

Take the next step towards achieving your dreams.
A student stands in front of a wall splattered with paint.