UCL Department of Geography


UCL Geography Undergraduate Open Days

A UCL Department of Geography Open Day is a great way of finding out everything you need to know about our community and what it's like studying at UCL before you decide to apply.

This page is intended for offer-holders applying for our undergraduate programmes in 2024-25, introducing you to our teaching and research, and answering any other questions you may have about admissions, accommodation, or anything else. If you’re not applying this year, please remember that things may well change.

Read on to watch our introductory film, see what our students have to say about us, and find some links to important information. Click on the tabs below to watch our academics talking about their research in short ‘taster’ films, to see another film about one of the modules you will take in your first year, and to find our FAQs with important information about applications, the first year, accommodation, careers, and more.

Please watch the film below to hear Dr James Kneale, our previous admissions tutor, provide an overview of the Department, an introduction to our programmes, and more important information. Please note, the current Admissions Tutor for our Undergraduate courses is Dr Justin van Dijk.

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These next films allow you to meet some of our current students and recent graduates, who can tell you about their experience of the department and of their particular programmes.

Grace Atkinson

Grace Atkinson

Kadeejah Kallo

Yoyo Po

We are also lucky to have a recent graduate who is also a successful vlogger – Anpus has made eight 4-10-minute-long films for us on learning, socialising, career prospects and more.

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Watch the full series

Finally, if you have any questions about your application, please email us.

Research Tasters

These four films provide you with a taste of our research and teaching – the topics we are working on are very much part of your learning. Between them, they cover climate change, the coronavirus epidemic, migration, and London’s hidden histories of diversity.

We begin with a film from Professor Mark Maslin, examining the surprising insights into possible solutions to climate change offered by our responses to the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Next, we have Professor Viv Jones on why mud matters and what it can tell us about past – and future - climate change and the conservation of freshwater species.

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Moving onto human geography, Professor James Cheshire explains how mapping past epidemics can help us understand how to map and grasp the challenges of coronavirus.

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And finally, Dr Caroline Bressey explores what the neglected historical geographies of migration can tell us about identity and racism in Britain.

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Teaching and Learning: Thinking Geographically

In this film, Professor Tariq Jazeel gives you a preview of one of the first lectures new undergraduates are given on the Thinking Geographically 1 module. As you will see, thinking geographically about topics like British Asian dance music can open up new possibilities for exploring the subject.

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Applications and First-Year study

How much previous experience of human/physical geography do you expect students to have?

From 2021 applicants do not need to have an A level or IB qualification in Geography and we do not expect students to have any prior knowledge of the subject, though clearly many will. The first-year curriculum is designed to provide students with a suitable introduction to geography whichever syllabus they have studied.

Do I have to study human/physical geography?

Single Honours students have to take five compulsory modules in the first year. Four cover topics from across human and physicalgeography and the fifth, Understanding Our Planet, is a physical geography module. You may choose human or physical modules after that and may take an ancillary outside the Department. After the first year it is up to you what kinds of topics you choose to do. Economics and Geography students are not restricted to human geography modules. BA Geography with Social Data Science are restricted to human geography modules until the final year.

The modules you choose do not determine whether you graduate with a BA or BSc, and it is easy to switch from one programme to the other.

Can I take a language/other course outside geography?

Single Honours students can take an ancillary module up to a maximum of 15 credits from outside the Geography department; please consult the UCL Module Catalogue for details on which modules are available. This module must be at an appropriate level.

Some of the other programmes combine modules from several disciplines. However, BSc (Econ) Economics and Geography students are not normally permitted to take an ancillary module outside of Economics and Geography without permission from the joint degree tutor.

Am I eligible for a place in UCL accommodation?

UCL guarantees an accommodation place for all full-time single, first-year undergraduate students studying at UCL for the first time and single, international first-year postgraduate students subject to the eligibility criteria. Your normal home address makes no difference to these criteria.

See more details

Am I eligible for the Access UCL Scheme?

Access UCL is UCL's alternative offer scheme for students from groups that are underrepresented at UCL. Eligible students who successfully complete the Access UCL scheme will receive a reduced offer of up to two grades below the standard UCL offer for the programme they have applied for.

Read our eligibility requirements

What happens if I don’t get the grades I need to meet your offer?

In some years not all of our applicants get the grades they need to fulfil their offer conditions and we then have a few spare places. We look at 'near miss' students who have marginally failed to meet their offer – dropping a grade for instance – and might then contact them to offer them a place. That ensures we take the number of students we’re hoping for. This can’t be guaranteed, though, because of the way UCAS works, and in the exceptional circumstances of the summer of 2020, we were unable to take applicants who had missed their grades.

Can I transfer to another programme once I arrive?

If your grades match the requirements for one of our other programmes, then you may be able to transfer if there is a place free and the request is made at the very start of your first year – usually by mid-October.

How much contact time/work should I expect in a typical week in the first year?

It varies, but eight to twelve contact hours per week is fairly typical – this might include lectures, seminars, tutorials, lab work, fieldwork, etc. But we expect students to spend three hours preparing, reading and taking notes for each of these hours, and there are also essays to write and practical work to do. You may well end up working a thirty-five-hour week.

Teaching and learning

Field classes

The first-year field class is compulsory for students in all of our programmes as it is part of the core module Geography in the Field 1.  BSc Economics and Geography students can take part in this field class if they wish. Second and final-year field classes are optional modules like our other courses, so you must choose to take them.

Are there any extra costs for fieldwork?

We are committed to keeping extra costs for fieldwork to an absolute minimum, as we believe it is a core aspect of the discipline and doesn’t want to exclude students for financial reasons. In normal years UCL Geography covers travel costs from Gatwick Airport and accommodation for the first year fieldtrip to Catalonia and pays for all meals (except on one evening when you are free to eat out in Barcelona). The Department also currently makes a significant contribution to the costs of second and third-year fieldtrips, paying for travel (from London), accommodation, and breakfast. Of course, the exact cost of each fieldtrip will vary, and we certainly cannot be sure what will happen once we can travel again, but this is our current policy. We want to make sure that no one is prevented from joining a field class because of its cost. In fact, some students attend two or even three field trips over the course of their studies.

Are places on modules limited because of resources?

Laboratory-based teaching rarely presents us with any issues. However, after the first-year field class, which is compulsory for most students, the number of students who can attend an individual field trip is capped.

Do second and third-year modules have prerequisites?

Most of our modules do not have strict prerequisites. Please consult the list of modules offered by the department on the UCL module catalogue (level 5 for second-year modules, level 6 for final-year modules).

Can Geography and Economics students attend the first-year field class?

Joint degree students may attend the first-year field class by choosing to take GEOG0013 Geography in the Field 1.

Can Geography and Economics students write a dissertation?

Joint degree students do not normally take dissertation modules, but exceptions may be made if a reasonable case is made at the start of the second year.  Students wishing to write a 45-credit final-year dissertation must take GEOG0016: The Practice of Geography and GEOG0018: Methods in Human Geography in the second year, plus two other 15-credit options from the second-year Geography options.

Study Abroad

Can I transfer into/out of the International Programme?

Yes. Students in the three-year BA/BSc programme may, with the agreement of both the Undergraduate and International Degree Tutors, transfer onto the International Program. Any application for a transfer must be lodged by the second week of term 1, year 2.

However, students who fail to achieve a year one average of 60% or above will be transferred to the three-year programme without a year or term abroad. You may also choose to transfer in this way at any time before you choose your destinations.

Do students choose where they spend their year or term abroad?

BA/BSc Geography and Economics and Geography students on the International (Year Abroad) programmes and three-year programme students taking a term abroad select three destinations they would like to study in. UCL then finds applicants a place at one of those institutions in most cases. Some universities are harder to get into than others because they are more popular, teach in the language of the country, or offer modules taught in English. Those students with the highest first-year marks tend to have an advantage, too.

What destinations are available for Geography students?

These change from year to year, and at present Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic make it hard to be certain about the destinations that would be offered to you. The list of destinations students could choose from in 2020-21 can be seen on the Study Abroad website, though – click on the relevant programme to see which partner universities are available. UCL’s Study Abroad team will provide up-to-date advice to students on these programmes.

Extra-curricular activities

What kind of career/future planning support is offered at  UCL?

UCL Careers provides advice and training for students throughout their time at UCL. The Department’s Careers and Academic Support Tutor provides a link with UCL Careers, and additional talks and events are organized.

What kinds of careers do UCL Geography students go into?

All kinds. Geography is a broad subject and students graduate with a wide set of skills and interests. The latest figures show the six most popular sectors for our graduates are: finance; policy and government; retail; publishing; hospitality and tourism; IT and technology. More than half of our graduates are working in those sectors six months after leaving UCL.

However, nearly a quarter of our students go into postgraduate education immediately after graduating, including Masters programmes, conversion courses for Law, and other professional training.

Would I be able to take work placements or internships while I study?

Placements and internships are not a formal part of our programmes, but they can be organized to fit in with your studies and we can assist with that.

What facilities are available in the  department, such as laboratories and study spaces?

The Department’s laboratories are in the North-West Wing. We also have a Map Library and Reading Room in Bedford Way, providing supplementary library facilities, computers, and space to work as well as an extensive map collection. Informal study spaces are available in both buildings, including a new common room in the North-West Wing.

How do you maintain a strong student  community within a city like London?

Normally students get to know each other at a welcome event organized by our student-run UCL Geography Society on the weekend before induction week. Almost everyone attends the first-year field class five weeks later, which is a fantastic opportunity to meet and work with your peers. We also have our own spaces for socializing and working. Our keen and enthusiastic students organise all kinds of activities and events, including their own journal. Much of UCL is contained in a surprisingly compact space – it can feel like a campus university even though you’re in the heart of a world city.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

UCL Geography’s proactive Equality Diversity and Inclusion group meets twice a term to push forward an agenda related to diversity and inclusion in the Department, protecting people on the basis of their disability or sexual, gender, ethnic or social identity. We have active BAME, LGBTQI+, gender, and disability & neurodiversity networks for students and staff, organizing events and social activities to celebrate those cultures within the Department. For more details please visit the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion pages.