The Oxford Geography degree introduces students to key themes, concepts and issues ranging from climate and environmental change, inequality, social, economic and cultural transformation, biodiversity loss, geomorphological processes in drylands, geographical data science, post-colonialism and globalization.
The School of Geography and the Environment is internationally recognised for their quality of research and teaching. The School also hosts three research centres:
- Environmental Change Institute
- Transport Studies Unit
- Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment
Academics from all the centres are involved in teaching and research supervision of undergraduates. The OUCE building, in the University Science Area on South Parks Road, contains lecture rooms, laboratories, computing facilities and tutors’ offices, and is within a few a minutes’ walk of the Radcliffe Science Library and the Bodleian Library.
Approximately ninety undergraduates are admitted to read Geography at Oxford each year.
Undergraduates’ activities in Oxford are divided between University and College: in this respect Geography is like other subjects. Lectures, practicals and field classes are arranged by the University and attended by students from all the colleges. Similarly, examinations are set by the University. On the other hand, tutorials and discussion groups are organised by the College and attended only by Jesus College students.
Jesus College were a pioneer Oxford college in awarding Scholarships and Exhibitions in Geography, and since that time over 60 years ago, the subject has retained a firm place in the College.
During their three-year course, undergraduates take two public examinations – the Preliminary Examination at the end of the first year and the Honour School at the end of the third year.
The Preliminary Examination consists of four papers (exams):
1. Earth System Processes (physical geography: Atmosphere, Biosphere, Lithosphere)
2. Human Geography (‘Space and Place’, ‘Networks and Mobilities’, and ‘Power and identity’)
3. Geographical Controversies (critical issues faced by modern geographers) (a) 1 examination (b) I practical folder
4. Geographical Techniques (research techniques in physical and human geography) (a) 1 examination (b) 1 fieldwork notebook
The Honour School is examined in one compulsory subject, two Foundational courses (from a choice of three) and three options (plus 3 extended submitted essays). Candidates also undertake a significant piece of independent research between their second and third years, leading to a geographical dissertation. Students also undertake a week’s fieldwork during the Easter Vacation of their second year: currently this is in either Berlin or Tenerife.
Compulsory course: Geographical Thought (1 Examination Paper & 1 fieldwork notebook)
1. Earth System Dynamics (1 examination paper)
2. Environmental Geography (1 examination paper)
3. Space, Place and Society (1 examination paper)
Optional subjects are available to all students at all colleges in their second and third years. Applicants should consult the School website for details.
Geography provides undergraduates with a varied course ranging in content from earth history, environmental problems such as climate change and biodiversity loss, global geopolitics, the future of global cities, aid and developmental issues, and in method from GIS and computational modelling to focus groups, questionnaires, philosophical discourse, and textual analysis.
Dissertation research has taken recent Jesus geographers to study topics, such as autonomous spaces for queer working class women in London; perceptions of home amongst hypermobile airline cabin staff; the Bodele depression and dust in the Sahara; sacred forests in Kenya; and the palaeo-ecological history of coastal swamps in Georgia.
College teaching is undertaken mostly in paired tutorials and college-based discussion groups. Oxford terms are short and intense – each is only eight weeks – so students are expected to do a good deal of vacation reading, thinking and writing. University lecture courses in Geography are numerous and varied, but emphasis is on the need for each student to learn for themselves.
Lectures and tutorials are supplemented by reading and discussion of written work with college teachers.
Prof Patricia Daley is the Helen Morag Fellow and Tutor in Geography, and a Professor in Human Geography of Africa at the School of Geography and the Environment. She teaches the human geography components of the course, including development geographies, geopolitics, economic globalization, African societies, and the philosophical and methodological underpinnings of the discipline of geography. Her research interests are in African politics and political ecology; political and gender-based violence, refugees, ethnicity, citizenship and sustainable peace.
Prof Richard Grenyer is a Fellow and Tutor in Geography, and an Associate Professor in Biodiversity and Biogeography at the School of Geography and the Environment. He teaches the physical aspects of the geography course, including ecology, geomorphology, remote sensing, statistics, biogeography, biodiversity conservation, and global environmental change. His research interests are in the role of space in macroevolution, and how to use mathematics and computing to make conservation more efficient and effective. He particularly works on mammals and plants.
The deadline to submit your application for undergraduate study via UCAS is 15 October each year. Please refer to the University’s webpages for detailed information on how to apply.
Places available at Jesus College
Eight places are typically offered to read Geography, among a total College entry of around 100 undergraduates.
Academic requirements for this subject can be found here.
Decisions about whom to interview are made on the basis of information on applicants’ UCAS forms, past and predicted examination performance, the Geography Admissions Test score (see below), and where available, contextualised GCSE data.
The specific selection criteria are given on the department’s website here.
All candidates must take the University’s as part of their application. Separate registration for this test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered by the deadline of 29 September 2023. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. Everything you need to know, including how to register and guidance on how to prepare, can be found can be found here.
You do not need to submit any written work when you apply for this course.
Applicants receive two interviews: one in human and one in physical geography. We are looking for an ability to identify the key arguments and to express these clearly. No prior training in critical thinking is required for this exercise. In the interview applicants can expect to be questioned about the article. They may also be asked to comment on a variety of graphical, cartographic and tabulated data which are given to them during the interview, and may be asked questions arising from other aspects of their geography course.
Please refer to the Departmental website for subject-specific advice.
The Tutors have no objection in principle to offering a place to a candidate who wishes to defer entry for a year, provided this intention is made known at the outset. You must apply for deferred entry at the time of application to Oxford: you cannot change your mind after an offer has been made.
You should be aware that applicants who are offered places for deferred entry will generally be among the very strongest of the cohort for their subject, and the College limits its offers of deferred places in order not to disadvantage candidates applying in the following year. In some cases, an applicant for deferred entry may be offered a place for non-deferred entry instead.
There are no Joint Schools for Geography.
The School of Geography and the Environment has one of the largest graduate and advanced study programmes in the UK. The following degrees are offered:
- DPhil Geography and the Environment
- MSc or MPhil Biodiversity, Conservation and Management
- MSc or MPhil Environmental Change and Management
- MSc or MPhil Nature, Society and Environmental Governance
- MSc or MPhil Water Science, Policy and Management
- 1+1 MBA at the Said Business School and any MSc above (2 years)
Numerical, research, laboratory and argument skills are developed by geographers and are much appreciated by a range of employers. Geography graduates go on to a very wide variety of careers. A number of graduating Jesus geographers continue with their subject as teachers, researchers or planners, but many go into business, the civil service and into professions, such as law or accountancy.
Please use the links below for further information: