Geography at Cambridge

Geography is one of the most exciting subjects to study at university, grappling to understand the complex relationships between environments, cultures and the peoples who live in them and shape them.  The geography degree at Cambridge is wide-ranging, with the possibility of increasing specialisation over three years.  You will be taught by many leading geographers in their field, in lectures, supervisions, laboratories and through overseas field courses.  The degree introduces you to all aspects of the subject, but is constructed to allow you increasing choice and flexibility as you begin to discover where your own interests lie.  The University of Cambridge was again ranked top for Geography and Environmental Science in the 2019 Complete University Guide.

The Course

In the first year, all students take the same two major courses in Human Geography and Physical Geography, and a general course in Geographical Skills and Methods.

In the second year, greater choice is possible, in combination with a Core Course ‘Living with Global Change’ that examines how people live with environmental hazards and risks around the world.  Students then choose three options from a choice of six human and physical geography papers.  Currently the second year options include papers on Austerity and Affluence; Biogeography; Citizenship, Cities and Civil Society; Development Theories, Policies and Practices; Glacial Processes; Remote Sensing and the Climate System.

In the final year there is a completely free choice, taking four papers from a list of twelve papers covering physical and human geography.  The papers run in 2018-19 are: Global Urbanism; Geographies of the Arctic; Political Ecology in the Global South; Demographic Continuity and Change; Environmental Knowledges and the Politics of Expertise; Geographies of Food and Power; Landscape and Power; Earth Observations and the Climate System; Glaciology; Volcanology; Muddy Coasts and Estuaries; Biogeography.

In the second year, you will conduct a project based on a one-week field visit overseas.  In the last few years, Mallorca, Berlin, Morocco, Ireland and Portugal have been the destinations of these field trips.  In the summer between the second and third year, you will conduct your own research (in the UK or abroad) which forms the basis of a dissertation that contributes to the final exam results at the end of the third year.

Geographer Careers

Cambridge geographers enter a wide range of professions and careers, with graduates going into environmental consultancy, conservation, international development, communications, management, the not-for-profit sector, as well as going on to further study.  You can get a sample of career case studies by visiting the careers page on the Department’s website.

Each year the Department has runs Open Days to which potential applicants are cordially invited.  Further details about the 2018 Open Days are available on the Department’s website.

Pembroke and Geography

Pembroke is re-admitting undergraduate Geography students after an absence of a few years and the Director of Studies will be Professor Mike Hulme.  The College is located is located only a three minute walk from the Geography Department.

Professor Mike Hulme is University Professor of Human Geography, with research expertise in the science, politics, cultures and geographies of climate change.  Prior to coming to Cambridge he worked at King’s College London and the University of East Anglia where he established and directed the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.  He teaches courses in the Department on Living with Global Change and Environmental Knowledges and Expertise.   He is author of the widely acclaimed book Why We Disagree About Climate Change, selected by CUP in 2015 as one of the top 20 most influential books published by the Press in the last 100 years.


Pembroke aims to take two undergraduates to read Geography each year, though the numbers will vary to mirror the quality of the field. Many students study both human and physical Geography over the full three years of the course. A Level Geography (or equivalent) is a requirement for entry. Students tend to flourish best in physical Geography if they have supporting science A levels, especially Physics, Maths, Biology and/or Chemistry. Those with interests in human Geography will flourish best if they have supporting A level subjects such as English Literature, Art, History, Psychology, Economics and Sociology. However, any combination of these and other subjects can be considered.

The admissions process consists of one interview with Professor Hulme or another College subject representative, and one with an Admissions Tutor or other non-expert academic.


Further enquiries should be addressed to the Admissions Office at Pembroke. Further information can be found on the page about Geography on the University website.