Why study Geography?
Geography is one of the most exciting and wide-ranging subjects to study at university. We study the most pressing questions that face the planet today including climate change, food security, austerity, flooding and volcanic risk.
The Geographical Tripos
Geography at the University of Cambridge is a broad and fascinating degree. It includes the option to study both Human and Physical Geography in each year of study. In the first year, students are introduced to key topics in both Physical and Human Geography. During this year, the units studied range from coasts and flooding to the history of globalisation and development. During this year students also complete several coursework assignments that develop research skills in data collection and analysis. In the second year, students can choose from a range of Human and Physical Geography papers that are taken alongside a compulsory core paper which covers the latest issues and research in the subject. The second year courses include papers on Austerity and Affluence, Citizenship and Civil Society, Glacial Processes and Biogeography. For many students, the highlight of the second year is a week-long fieldclass in locations such as Morocco, Tenerife, Denmark and Dublin. These offer first-hand experience in research and data collection and specialist instruction in the field from our world-leading academics. By the third year of study, many students have developed particular interests within Geography and can choose from an array of specialist papers that offer cutting-edge material and showcase the very latest thinking on issues such as glacial processes, postcolonialism and famine. In addition, students design and carry out their own individual research project across the second and third years of study on a topic of their own choosing.
During their degree course, Geographers at Cambridge develop an array of transferable skills. Work for the degree is a mixture of contact time (lectures, lab practicals and small group teaching) and self-directed learning in which students are reading for their courses and producing essays, presentations and coursework. Through these activities, Geographers develop not only strong analytical and communication skills but also the ability to use statistical software and mapping packages.
Find out more about Geography at the University of Cambridge here: http://www.geog.cam.ac.uk
Homerton has one of the largest college groups of Geographers in Cambridge. In each year, we have six to seven places for the subject. This gives us a thriving college community of around twenty Geographers at any given time. The college also boasts its own Geographical Society, the Homerton Undergraduate Geographical Society (HUGS). The Society organises events such as guest lectures, dinners and social events.
Teaching and contact time
The teaching for the Geographical Tripos is shared between the Department of Geography and the College. In the first year of study, lectures and field classes are organised by the Department of Geography and the college co-ordinates the small group teaching, or ‘supervisions’, for students. All undergraduates are allocated a Director of Studies who is responsible for their academic welfare. The Director of Studies advises students on course choices, co-ordinates teaching where required and keeps track of academic progress.
In the second and third years, all teaching is organised by the Department of Geography. However, at the College level we regularly meet as a group of Geographers to discuss research projects and course choices.
You can expect to write one to two essays per week in an eight-week term and attend four to five lectures and one or two supervisions each week.
Francesca joined Homerton in 2014 and is Lecturer and Director of Studies in Geography. As an historical-political Geographer, Francesca has research interests in the history of women’s citizenship, the politics of reproduction and women’s healthcare. Francesca also has expertise in social theory, in particular, the work of French philosopher Michel Foucault. Her work encompasses scholarship in geography, the medical humanities, law and gender studies.
Francesca teaches a wide range of Human Geography papers both at Department and College level.
Follow Francesca on Twitter @drfplmoore
Molly has recently retired as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Geography and is a Life Fellow of Homerton College. Her research interests focus on gender, social issues and geographies of inequality.
Geography in the Homerton library
The light airy space of Homerton Library was refurbished in 2012. It is open to students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round except for Christmas day. Books can be self-issued, so students can use the library at whatever time suits them. There are 60 study spaces, including desks, cubicles and comfy chairs. The library stocks reading specifically for the first two years of the Geography course – by the third year the course is so diverse that students typically use many of the more specialist libraries, but still enjoy the core texts and study space offered at Homerton. Students are encouraged to request the purchase of core texts that are not already stocked. The librarian, Liz Osman, aims to make this library students' "home library" by creating a relaxed yet quiet working space.
As part of the undergraduate course, Geographers do a piece of research on a topic of interest to them. Some of the previous dissertations written by Homerton Geographers include:
- Rebuilding Zarnowiec: an assessment of Poland's nuclear future
- Jews in Berlin: haunted by history?
- Changes in the velocity of Midtalsbreen, Norway, over a short and longer timescale
- How is 'Christianity Fever' in China perceived by South East Asians?
- Contemporary gentrification in Old Fourth Ward, Atlanta: the perfect solution?
- Does the Environmental Stewardship Scheme have a sustainable future?
Research funding for undergraduate dissertation research
The undergraduate course requires students to do independent research for their dissertations. Students can choose whether their research topic is locally-based, focuses elsewhere in the UK, or involves international work.
Research funding is available to help with research costs. For his dissertation entitled 'Ecotourism in Munduk Village, Bali: Panacea or Pandora's Box?' undergraduate Patrick Ransom received support from four different sources: The David Richards Travel Grant from the Geography Department (Approx. £300); The Bedford Study Grant from Cambridge University Geography Society (Approx. £125); The Mary Euphrasia Mosley, Sir Bartle Frere & Worts Travel Scholarships from the University of Cambridge (Approx £600); and the International Travellers fund from the Department of Geography (Approx. £400).
Where next for Homerton Geographers?
Former Geography students go on to a variety of careers. Here are extracts from some of their stories – see What next for Homerton’s Graduates? to find out more.
'I'm now an analyst at Clarksons, the world's largest shipbroking house. I analyse the supply and demand of the major commodities carried by the world fleet which exceeds 50,000 ships!'
'In December of this year, I will be starting a new job as a project accountant in the charity Transparency International, based out in Berlin, who work to combat corruption in political, economic and environmental spheres.
'Since 2011, I have been based at the University of East Anglia researching for a PhD on the archaeology of one of the branches of the Secret Service during the Second World War.'
'Over the past two years I have been invited to lecture at Teacher Training courses at London universities, on GTP, PGCE and Teach First courses.'
'After having finished the FIFA Master at the International Center for Sports Studies in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, I was lucky enough to move right into a job with FIS (the world governing body for skiing, snowboard and the nordic disciplines).
The Department of Geography offers 4 MPhil courses, in Polar Studies, Geographical Research, Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies, and Conservation Leadership. More details on these courses can be found at http://www.geog.cam.ac.uk/graduate/mphil/ and some funding is available at http://www.geog.cam.ac.uk/graduate/studentships/. The majority of teaching and learning at Masters level will happen in the Department. Masters students at the University of Cambridge are also registered at a college, which offers a diverse and friendly social environment. Homerton College welcomes Geography MPhil applicants, and would encourage their active involvement with Geography in the college. More information on MPhil study at Homerton can be found at http://www.homerton.cam.ac.uk/admissions/graduate .
The Department of Geography has roughly 80 Ph.D students who study a vast array of topics (see http://www.geog.cam.ac.uk/people/phd.html). The most important thing is to find a Ph.D supervisor whose interests and expertise will complement your own research plans. Information about how to apply for a Ph.D can be found at http://www.geog.cam.ac.uk/graduate/phd. Each Ph.D student is connected to a college and Homerton welcomes applicants from potential Ph.D students. As well as having an academic home at a warm, welcoming college, becoming involved with an active group of Geographers, Ph.D students may also be offered teaching work. More information on Ph.D study at Homerton can be found at http://www.homerton.cam.ac.uk/admissions/graduate
- Daniel Casey (3rd Year Geographer)
- Suzanna Hinson (Undergraduate student, and Geography Representative for 2013/14)
- Department of Geography
- Scott Polar Research Insititute (Part of the Department of Geography)
- Cambridge University Geographical Society
- Education Faculty
- University Library
- Open days at Homerton
- The Sutton Trust usually run a free 5-day Geography summer school for year 12 students from state-maintained schools, at the University of Cambridge.
- Homerton Union of Students offers advice to prospective students.
The most important date to remember is that applications are due in by early October. Applicants for Geography will take a written assessment in their schools or colleges in the November of the year of application. Further information about the format and content for this assessment is available in the online Prospectus. If you are invited for interview, you will have two academic interviews. You may also be given some material, before and/or during the interview, which will form the basis of a discussion. This material may be a map, some text, a photograph or something else. The aim of the interviews is not to test knowledge so much as engage in thinking and reasoning.
The admissions webpages offer information about the application process, interviews, scholarships, open days, and accommodation.
Friendly advice from current students is available.
Why not come to an Open Day and find out what makes Geography at Homerton so special?