Geography is an incredibly broad and diverse discipline, which overlaps with many of the other subjects relevant to the planet today. If you look at our world and the main issues facing it – from migration and climate change to natural resource management and geopolitics – each of these is fundamentally geographical in nature.
Yet, the subject does not only concern itself with the world’s problems. Drawing on other disciplines, including sociology, biology, cultural studies, geology, and even mathematics and statistics, it can often be a source of wonder and intellectual challenge for students.
Think of the landforms and physical features of the earth – this is all geography. Or the ways that people live, move, and think together – this too is geography. At university level, geography can even involve the study of poetry, philosophy, and politics. It is a brilliantly surprising subject – and it’s not just ‘colouring in a map’, as many people will joke.
A symbol of Britain, but a very interesting geographical feature too!
The UK is a fantastic place to study geography, with institutions up and down the country offering a range of different courses to learners of all levels, demographics, and ages. If you have never before thought about the concepts of cartography and globalisation, or if you are very comfortable with these ideas but want to develop your knowledge of geographical information systems, you’ll find options for you across all of the main cities in Britain.
Here are some of the best options, ranging from revision classes and private tuition to university courses, diplomas, and Continuing Professional Development – each organised by city. The information here will help you to find the geography class you want outside of these cities too.
People who live in London have the tendency to think their city is the centre of the world, let alone Britain. But, in terms of geography, it sort of is, with many of the national geographic institutions being based from the capital – including the Royal Geographical Society and the Geographical Association.
London also has world-class universities, including University College London (UCL), King’s College, Imperial, the London School of Economics (LSE) and many others. The majority of them, apart from the most specialist, offer geography at undergraduate level and in Master’s courses and PhDs. Depending on which of the many university league tables you consult, LSE and UCL offer the most prestigious geography courses in the capital. As ever, the Open University’s online degree courses are a brilliant option too.
Yet, in terms of further education, the options are just as good. There are colleges across London offering all manner of different classes – in human geography, cultural geography, and physical geography. City and Islington College and Birkbeck College are both worth a look for any prospective A Level student or those interested in taking a Certificate in Higher Education.
And to supplement your A Level or GCSE studies, London boasts a staggering array of different revision courses, offered by private schools, charities, and other organisations across the city. Those offered by Mander Portman Woodward and by IntoUniversity are some of the best. Each can consolidate the skills and knowledge you will need for your examinations – whatever the elective module or exam board.
Otherwise, try out Superprof, the online platform that links students with first-class tuition. If you are struggling with your grades or just looking to get a flavour of the subject, there are over 130 brilliant tutors in your city ready to get your geographical knowledge in gear!
London is a centre of geographical learning across the world.
Leeds is another city with a comprehensive range of learning options in geography. From the university – which ranks as one of the best in the country for geography – to the various college, revision, and supplementary classes, there are all sorts of opportunities to improve your knowledge of geographical phenomena and the economic and natural environment.
To start with higher education, the University of Leeds offers world-class teaching in every field you might desire to pursue. At Leeds, you can either take a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in geography, an important choice at undergraduate level that will determine whether you study the more humanities aspects of the subject – the human and cultural parts – or those orientated towards social science.
Something unique offered by the University of Leeds is the FutureLearn programme, a series of online courses – in all sorts of subjects, not just geography – designed both as a teaser and, if studied comprehensively, as parts to make up a qualification. The really brilliant thing about these courses, which are intended for the casual learner, is that they are absolutely free.
In terms of further education – or professional and extended learning distinct from that at degree level – Leeds has a number of colleges that can help you out. From the Step-Up Pathway qualifications to the more familiar A Levels, the Leeds City College and the University Technical College Leeds are institutions renowned for providing teaching excellence – to any member of society.
For those looking to develop their examination skills – in preparation for A Level exams or even GCSEs – the Leeds area hosts both Tutor2U and Justin Craig, two organisations that specialise in revision classes. They both offer group revision sessions in school holidays and before the exam season – and they are both quite popular.
For those of you who have studied geography at any level in England, you will know probably know all about Birmingham – as it is an essential case study for a diversity of themes in urban studies. For those of you living in the city, the options for you to learn geography are just as diverse.
In Birmingham, the opportunities for studying geography at A Level– alongside mainstream school – are many, and the best place to start looking is at the Birmingham Metropolitan College (or BMET) or the South and City College. Between the two, they have eighteen campuses across the city, and BMET alone has nearly thirty thousand students. They provide Birmingham with the range of opportunities to study A Levels, BTECS, and the Social Science Access to Higher Education qualification – and geography is included in both.
The University of Birmingham is a brilliant institution that offers a remarkable diversity of courses for geography undergraduate students – in Geography, Environmental Science, Earth Sciences, and Planning – and taught grad programmes in Hydrogeology and Human Geography, as well as PhDs.
The University’s access and outreach programme is particularly strong in geography, as, across the academic year, dedicated days are set aside to offer workshops and lectures to children and young adults with an interest in the subject. There are geography-focused photography competitions and a general ethos of inclusion and work with the local community, and all the workshops are run by the alumni and professors at the university.
Online options are just as readily available. The Open University, being a national institution, can be studied from Birmingham, and there is always Superprof’s excellent one-on-one tuition to strengthen your knowledge outside of the course and curriculum!
Manchester, these days, is a big draw for students and young professionals – owing to its nightlife scene, its generally cool vibe, and the fact that it is much more affordable than London! So, if you live there already, or if you are new to the city, and you are hoping to study geography in one form or another, you’ll be pleased to hear that Manchester has more than enough educational opportunities to keep you satisfied.
Whilst you might be in mainstream education – at school studying GCSEs or A Levels – you might want to check out the Saturday schools and evening classes available across the city, in which to build on your learning with courses in your first language. Many communities in Manchester – and across the UK in general actually – have set up supplementary schools to promote cultural knowledge. These schools are designed to give you broader perspectives on the material you study in school, and so, if you decide to attend, you will study geography, history, maths, and other core subjects whilst developing your language skills too.
You might also benefit from the revision classes on offer in the city, which, as in other cities across the UK, usually take place in school breaks and in exam season. Justin Craig has a number of centres in Manchester – which offer classes concerned with the breadth of your A Level and GCSE geography courses – and A Level Revision UK runs a course that focuses on the Edexcel geography A Level.
As in Leeds, the University of Manchester offers both a BA and a BSc in the subject, allowing you immediately to take your study of geography in the theoretical and analytical directions you prefer. For a Master’s, you have a range of options available, including taught courses in Geographical Information Science and Environmental Studies, to name just a couple.
If you are a professional seeking to develop your skills and employability, the Manchester Metropolitan University might be something to consider as well, as it offers a range of Continuing Professional Development courses in geography. Here, you can study Geography of Health or Environmental Management, both from a professional perspective.
As Glasgow is in Scotland, the options here vary a little. If anything, there is a wider variety of opportunities, as the Scottish Government has made a great effort in providing qualifications that aren’t based around the linear progression through GCSEs, A Levels, and degree-level awards. Indeed, as you will know if you are Scottish, in Scotland GCSEs and A Levels are replaced by National 5s and Highers respectively.
Glasgow’s further education opportunities are very varied, with Glasgow Clyde College and the City of Glasgow College offering an array of qualifications in the social sciences. Alongside Highers and Advanced Highers, they offer National Qualifications and Certificates, Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) qualifications, and Higher National Diplomas. The SWAP scheme is aimed at mature students hoping to gain admission to university, so it’s one of the best options if this applies to you!
The University of Glasgow has a well-renowned geography school, whose reputation is based largely on its human and cultural geography department. Here you can study the four-year undergraduate degree and pursue postgraduate research in a broad array of topics. If you are into the political side of geography – climate change, resource consumption, and the geopolitics of energy – you should take a look at the Master’s programme at Glasgow Caledonian University called Climate Justice. The only course of its kind in the world, it will teach you about the injustices and inequalities surrounding energy use and the impact – both ecological and political – that it is having upon the world.
Whilst the University of Strathclyde – another Glasgow-based higher education institution – is not as well-known as the others, you might want to take advantage of the courses they offer in Lifelong Learning. This is a government scheme that promotes personal and professional growth at all stages of life, and the courses Strathclyde offers are all locally based and diverse in their topics.
The Scholar Tutoring Agency also runs their Higher revision classes from the University of Strathclyde, which are designed to help young people to ace their examinations and have the best chance of getting a place at their favoured university.
A great place to study geography is Glasgow, Scotland’s second city.
As you will now know, the United Kingdom is well-equipped with opportunities to enhance your knowledge of the natural and human worlds, and the interrelationship between them. With the assets that the country – and all these cities – have, if you are interested in geography, there is nothing to hold you back!