Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, is rife with opportunities for learning. With some of the country’s highest-ranking universities, schools, and colleges, it is a wonderful place to study at any level – whether for National 5s, Highers, or degrees and beyond.
It’s also a fantastic place to study geography, as the University of Glasgow boasts one of the best geography departments – for human geography, cultural geography, and physical geography – in the UK. And as a hugely diverse, post-industrial town, with a national park just outside, it gives great opportunities for fieldwork in an urban or natural environment.
However, we all know that it can be difficult to discern what’s best when you are surveying the educational landscape, particularly when there is such a broad selection of institutions all with a reputation for excellence. Here’s a little guide to any prospective student preparing to apply to pursue studies in the geographical field – at any level (we also information on studying geography in the UK more generally). We hope it helps!
Just outside Glasgow is the gorgeous Loch Lomond.
Colleges are institutions across the UK that provide academic and vocational training, for almost any subjects you might want to study or for whatever aims you may have. Often, they offer qualifications from National 5s upwards – through Highers and diplomas – and generally they provide for any demographic of learner, whether you are a mature or an international student. Glasgow has some great options in this regard, and the vast majority of these institutions offer geography as a discipline.
Glasgow Clyde College offers an array of different subjects and qualifications across three campuses in the city (it used to be three different colleges, but they merged into one in 2013). It now offers Highers and Advanced Highers, NQ qualifications, SWAP certificates (Scottish Wider Access Programme), and HNDs (Higher National Diplomas).
The options for the budding geographer include Highers, which include part-time courses for those with other commitments, a SWAP programme in the Humanities, and an HND in Social Science. SWAP is an initiative between colleges and universities to promote further and higher education to adults, so this may be a great option for the more mature of you who are seeking entrance to university!
Otherwise, the straightforward Higher programme will provide you with the analytical and theoretical skills – as well as a familiarity with fundamental geographical concepts and landforms from urban studies, meteorology, and sustainability – that you will need to progress in your studies or for your attendance of any future geography course.
Learn geography in the heart of Scotland’s biggest city, Glasgow.
The City of Glasgow College provides a similar breadth of qualifications and course possibilities as the Clyde College, but its emphasis is more on the practical and applied side of things. So, whilst you will not be able to study Highers or National 5s here, you will have the option to study a range of different programmes – part-time, full-time, or in the evening or weekend – in which you can apply your geographic knowledge.
They offer, for example, an NC (National Certificate) in Social Sciences, in which you will study geography alongside sociology and economics. NCs are designed to prepare you both for work and for further study, and it shows the real-life applications of the geographical skills you will learn!
If you are already on a Higher course and your examinations are approaching, don’t fear! Glasgow is well-equipped with revision classes, workshops, and events.
The Scholar Tutoring Agency is one organisation that runs helpful revision programmes for anyone who is struggling – or for anyone who just wants to consolidate their knowledge – based in the University of Strathclyde. Geography is on offer and, whilst they run four-day courses before Higher exams in May, they also provide intensive one-day revision sessions before December prelims.
Whichever package you choose, you will find that your grades will improve dramatically.
But really, you might find it much preferable to find yourself some private geography tuition. Whilst group classes can be fun and social, it’s not unlikely that you would learn a lot more if you could have a geography teacher sit with you, go over the geographic concepts with which you struggle, and to move with you at your own pace.
One way to do this is by using Superprof, an online interface that connects you to professional, qualified, and experienced tutors in your local area. And there are over two thousand geography tutors available online to help you from a distance – at an average cost of £11 per hour.
Ultimately, there is no point struggling through a class in which you don’t understand a thing, or in which you aren’t being stretched enough. Instead, get in touch with a graduate student, a researcher, or a professional teacher through Superprof. With over a thousand different subjects taught through the platform worldwide, you’d be joining a community trusted by millions at home and abroad.
The University of Glasgow has a very prestigious geography department, and it is one of the top universities in the world, let alone the United Kingdom, at which to study the subject.
Over four academic years as an undergraduate, the main themes of your curriculum will be the interrelationship of the human and the physical, the concept of the natural resource, and environmental change.
You will have the opportunity to use geography labs and you will be obliged to study at least a little bit of mathematics and statistics. In your third year, you will be taken on a week-long field trip to develop your skills in field work and to apply the knowledge you have learnt. Check out the University’s website for entry requirements and the admission process.
If, after your graduation, you are planning on continuing in geography to a Master’s or a doctoral level, there are opportunities to do so at the University of Glasgow too. The institution offers postgraduate research courses in geographical information science and mapping, water environments, and human geography.
It is worth noting that the Glasgow Caledonian University offers the only course of its kind in the world, a Master of Science in Climate Justice. If you are interested in the interaction of geography with geopolitics, ecology, and environmental studies – and the ways in which geographers and scientists can inform public policy – this might be the course for you. It focuses on resource depletion across the world and gives particular attention to global warming. This is the course for all environmentalists!
Scotland – and particularly Edinburgh – is one of the historic homes of modern geographical study.
The pioneering distance-learning institution that is The Open University functions in Scotland too. It offers degrees in almost every academic discipline under the sun, and all of them can be studied remotely, either part-time or full-time.
Each course will take about three years if full-time, and you will have full digital and face-to-face support whether you are studying for a degree or a diploma. The courses offered in geography are either in Geography and Environmental Science, Environmental Studies alone, or in Social Sciences more broadly, whilst a diploma is offered in Environmental Management and Technology.
For those who want to be in higher education but who have to juggle it with a job or other commitments, The Open University offers both flexibility and excellence.
Whilst there are many options for Lifelong Learning in Glasgow – including those at Rosemount – the University of Strathclyde offers a staggering number of courses designed to appeal to learners of all ages.
These courses can, if you complete enough of them, provide you with enough credits to earn a qualification, however, standing alone, the majority provide incredibly interesting knowledge and skills and are equally valuable in that sense. Just as an example of some courses that might be of interest to the amateur, aspiring, or professional geographer might be about Glasgow’s Waterways and Architecture, or on social class in Scotland.
We hope this has helped! If you are interested in taking geography courses elsewhere across the UK, we have pieces on studying geography in Birmingham and taking a geography class in Manchester – amongst many other cities and subjects.