School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

BSc (Hons) Geography with Ocean Science

Geography explores the relationships between people, places and the environment. Our Geography with Ocean Science course allows you to focus on the physical side of this and also spend time studying ocean science. Plymouth is the ideal setting for this, giving you hands-on experience of the physical geography of a dynamic estuary and coast within walking distance of campus.

Our geography degrees make the most of geography’s strengths in tackling head on the biggest global challenges we face. Modules have been designed to address many of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – developed by the UN as the 'blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all' – all of our degrees are fully accredited by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).

NSS results for BSc (Hons) Geography with Ocean Science

We’re very proud of our National Student Survey (NSS) 2019 return showing 87% of students said that our staff are good at explaining things, staff have made the subject interesting and agreed that the course was intellectually stimulating.  

Careers with this subject

This degree presents diverse fields of study and opens up a great range of career opportunities. Employment areas directly linked to geography and
international relations include working in consultancy, planning, tourism, local/regional/national government, NGOs and teaching.

Key features

  • Choose modules from a wide range of physical geography topics and combine them with key areas of ocean science research.
  • Develop your understanding of coastal and marine processes and their interactions with marine biology and ecology, and the ways in which people choose to respond to, and manage, the coastal and marine environments. 
  • Take advantage of opportunities to undertake field trips at all stages of study.
  • Seize the opportunity to gain 'problem-solving' experience. You’ll also be equipped with advanced computer and information technology skills and expertise in other work-related areas.
  • Establish a sound knowledge base across all areas of ocean science, with options to study physical oceanography and meteorology, biological and chemical oceanography, and coastal oceanography.
  • Gain excellent communication skills by working independently and as part of a team and learn from expert, accessible, supportive staff who are skilled researchers in their field.
  • Benefit from our unique location in Britain's 'Ocean City', with glorious beaches, coasts, rivers and estuaries on your doorstep, and within sight of Dartmoor National Park and the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
  • Choose to study abroad in Europe or the USA. You can also experience a valuable work placement programme, opening up a range of career opportunities.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • In your first year, lectures, tutorials, practicals and local fieldwork in physical geography will strengthen your knowledge and introduce new ideas and techniques. Complete ocean science foundation modules, and select an optional module from a range of disciplines.
    Core modules
    • GGP1205 Catchments and Coasts

      Here we begin our overview of contemporary physical geography. The module is structured around key themes that are prominent in geographical thinking about the environment. Lectures provide a framework for understanding these themes, and through supporting laboratory classes we explore examples of their local manifestation using quantitative data, graphic and spatial statistical analysis.

    • GGP1206 Environment and Climate

      Here we continue our overview of contemporary physical geography (which begin in GGP1205). The module is structured around key themes that are prominent in geographical thinking about environment al processes and change. Lectures provide a framework for understanding these themes, and we explore in more detail local examples in laboratory and practical sessions.

    • GGX1205 Geographical Journeys

      In this module we introduce geography as an undergraduate subject. Through lectures, residential fieldwork and a suite of tutorials we explore the interactions between human and physical geography, and consider the subject in relation to students¿ personal and future professional development. The tutorials support students adjusting to university-level study, in relation to both subject and key / transferable skills.

    • GGX1206 Sustainable Futures

      In this module we explore how geographers use the concepts and principles of sustainable development, and critically examine their application to a range of real-world issues. You enhance your subject knowledge and understanding, and develop your key skills, by investigating an aspect of `sustainability in practice¿, and you are supported through a full programme of tutorials.

    • OS102 Physical and Chemical Processes of the Ocean

      This module provides an introduction to the main physical and chemical processes occurring in the world's oceans and a foundation in key aspects of underpinning science and mathematics.

    • OS109 Introduction to Biodiversity and Marine Ecosystems

      This module will provide an introduction to biodiversity with particular focus on marine organisms. Students will be taught how we name and classify species using a hierarchical system. Students will learn where different organisms live and how they interact in various ecosystems in our oceans. Students will gain a basic understanding of food webs, primary production and marine ecology.

  • Year 2
  • In your second year, you’ll specialise in physical geography options (fieldwork options may also be chosen). There is a chance to study in Europe, North America or Australia. 
    Core modules
    • APIE205 Preparation for a Year Long Work Placement in Geography

      This module is designed to assist students in their search and preparation for a year long work placement. It is aimed at students who would like to undertake the placement to enhance both programme specific and employment-related skills during Stage 3.

    • GGX2201 Principles and Applications of Geography 1

      In this module students learn about and critically reflect upon various approaches to the production of geographical knowledge, and the different ways and contexts in which this knowledge is applied. The module develops students' awareness of the place and importance of geographical research in preparation for dissertation study and fieldwork modules, and identifies links between geographical research and employability.

    • GGX2202 Principles and Applications of Geography 2

      Students learn about, practise and critically reflect upon different research methods and techniques in the production of geographical knowledge. The module refines students' awareness of the place and importance of geographical research in preparation for dissertation study and fieldwork modules, and its links to employability. Tutorials are provided for additional, small group discussion of issues arising.

    • OS201 Global Ocean Processes

    • OS204 Waves, Tides and Coastal Dynamics

      This module provides an introduction to the characteristics of ocean waves and focuses on how waves and tides interact with the coast and drive the coastal processes that result in shoreline erosion and accretion.

    Optional modules
    • ENVS2005 Weather and Climate

      Understanding weather and climate is essential for developing in-depth knowledge on how climate is changing today and will change in the future. This module will develop intellectual and practical skills in critical analysis of weather and climate data. In addition, an examination of the scientific evidence for current and predicted effects of weather and climate will be addressed.

    • GGP2200 Quaternary Environments and Archaeology

      This option module examines climatic and biotic changes and human-environment relations during the Quaternary period, and provides training in, and understanding of, several key palaeoenvironmental and dating techniques. Particular reference is made to the British Isles and to the last glacial/interglacial cycle.

    • GGP2201 Catchment and River Environments

      Catchment and river processes shape and integrate physical and human landscapes. Almost all human-environment interactions take place within river basins which are the fundamental unit for environmental management. Geographical knowledge of land and water processes, i.e. how catchment and river systems work and respond to human impacts, is essential to underpin management decisions that support food and water security.

    • GGP2204 Cold Environments

      This module provides an overview of the geomorphic processes operating and the landforms found in cold environments and will focus on present day glacial, periglacial and fluvioglacial environments. It will include material on Quaternary climates, past glaciations and relic landforms.

    • GGX2203 Geographical Information Systems

      Module provides grounding in theory and practical techniques of GIS. Lectures are on theory, methods and spatial literacy. Practical work covers stages of handling geospatial data, construction of GIS models and automation, provides exposure to a range of techniques in spatial analysis and visualisation, and gives context and experience to spatial literacy concepts. Knowledge and skills are developed in project work.

    • GGX2204 Fieldwork in Geography

      This module enhances students¿ knowledge and understanding of geographical patterns and processes in the field environment, using appropriate research techniques. Parallel fieldtrips are run to overseas destinations, to a comparable academic format.

  • Optional placement year
  • This is your opportunity to spend a year working in industry to improve your knowledge of applied geography and ocean science and gain invaluable work experience, leading to a Certificate of Work Experience. Our employability service will help you find a placement from our extensive network across all sectors.
    Core modules
    • APIE305 Geography:Placement

      This module provides an opportunity for professional training of at least six months duration with an approved company or host organisation between stage 2 and 5. While on placement, students will gain experience of how geography is used in the workplace, be able to apply their geographical knowledge and expertise, and learn further skills and relevant techniques.

  • Final year
  • Write a dissertation on your choice of geography topic and take further physical geography optional modules. There is also an optional field trip module. In ocean science you complete modules exploring shelf sea oceanography, estuarine processes and further aspects of waves and coastal processes.
    Core modules
    • GGX3200 Dissertation in Geography

      Students undertake a major piece of independent, investigative research into a geographical issue of their choice and report on this in a dissertation of ca.12,000 words. The report should establish the wider academic context for the investigation and demonstrate originality and the effective application of intellectual, subject-specific and key skills.

    • OS303 Ocean Dynamics

      The module provides an introduction to dynamical oceanography with emphasis on the large- and meso-scale circulation in the world ocean and shelf seas. Topics include geostrophic and wind driven currents, eddies, formation of fronts, upwelling, interactions between water masses, exchanges between shelf and deep seas. Emphasis is placed on quantitative understanding of physical processes and the analysis of field data.

    • OS306 Coastal Geomorphology and Estuaries

      A study of the different geomorphological archetypes of the coastal zone which builds on the student's knowledge of physical processes to describe how the geographical characteristics of these zones develop. The module explores how the characteristics of these zones influence the associated ecosystems and examines how human utilisation of this space contributes to or conflicts with the natural setting.

    Optional modules
    • GGP3200 Restoring Freshwater Environments

      This module develops a critical understanding of how humans have impacted natural catchment processes and the techniques available for sustainably restoring degraded environments where a legacy of historical mismanagement has degraded the environmental value of freshwaters, destroying the aquatic habitat and increasing flood and drought hazards.

    • GGP3202 Tectonic Geomorphology

      The module focuses on how landforms can be created and modified by tectonic processes and how geomorphology can be used to interpret the nature of tectonic activity. An examination of the direct and indirect impact of tectonics on geomorphological systems at local through to regional and global scales.

    • GGP3204 Biological Conservation

      This module examinee the pursuit of biological conservation. Drawing on a wide range of case study material, in temperate and tropical, terrestrial and aqueous environments, the module examines the drivers and rationales for biological conservation, and the role of stakeholders, policies, legislation and practices in achieving it.

    • GGP3205 Global Climate Change

      This module is concerned with climate and environmental change in the past, present and future. Different timescales of climate change and their potential mechanisms are examined in detail. We critically review the process of future climate change prediction and review societal response options.

    • GGP3206 Desert Environments

      This module considers the unique aspects of the physical geography of deserts and other drylands, which occupy 47% of the world¿s land area, and assesses the challenges of human-environment interactions. Key processes and landforms in these regions are explored, before examining their history and the prospects for the future of both landscape and inhabitants.

    • GGX3201 Advanced Fieldwork in Geography

      Students will undertake an advanced field study, relating to key human and / or physical geographical issues in the visited area. After an introduction to key themes in the context of both urban and rural areas, students will conduct a group research project of their own design.

    • GGX3203 Work Based Learning in Geography

      This module provides an opportunity for work based learning. Students work with an appropriate host organisation for a minimum of 100 hours, engaged on activities relevant to geographical skills, knowledge and expertise.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BSc Geography With Ocean Science Programme Specification September 2019 0087

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

104 - 112

IB
27 overall. English and mathematics must be included.

A level/AS level
104-112 points from a minimum of two A levels. Excluding general studies.

BTEC
DMM. We welcome this qualification however please contact admissions@plymouth.ac.uk, stating explicitly the full list of modules within your qualification.

BTEC National Diploma modules
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.

Access
Pass a named Access to HE Diploma (e.g. science, humanities, combined), (including GCSE English and Mathematics grade C /4 or above or equivalent) with at least 33 credits at merit.

GCSE
Mathematics and English language grade C.

Other
Equivalent qualifications may be considered.
 

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New Student 2019 2020
Home/EU £9,250 £9,250
International £13,400 £13,800
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed £770
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances.

Undergraduate scholarships for international students

To reward outstanding achievement the University of Plymouth offers scholarship schemes to help towards funding your studies.

Find out whether you are eligible and how you can apply

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Science and Engineering and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Additional fieldwork and equipment costs.

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

Geography at Plymouth

Study a varied and exciting range of topics whilst gaining skills to equip you for a lifetime of learning.

Geography at Plymouth is renowned as a vibrant, welcoming community committed to teaching and research.

Find out more about what we do in geography

Plymouth students and Cape Point African penguins during South Africa fieldwork module (1995)


Celebrating 50 years of geography

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of geography as a degree subject at the University of Plymouth.

In the last half century, 6,394 students have graduated from our geography programmes and 154 staff have worked with us, supporting and carrying out world-class research and teaching.

Assessment

  • 6 Practical: 12%
  • . Exams: 18%
  • b Coursework: 70%

Geography fieldwork

"One of the highlights of my degree was the North West USA fieldwork module." Amy Sparrow, BA Geography

We offer one of the very best fieldwork programmes in the UK.

Learn more about our fieldwork programme

BSc (Hons) Geography graduate (2018) Jessica Kitch awarded British Society for Geomorphology Marjorie Sweeting Dissertation Prize 2019 for her dissertation:

Sediment Source Fingerprinting in The Merriott Stream Catchment, Somerset

Jessica's project was advised by Professor Will Blake in collaboration with Dr John Phillips from the Environment Agency.

More details

Updates and news from our students and staff

Gain insight into what's happening in Geography at the University of Plymouth. Enjoy reading about the Geography Society, research, field trips, study opportunities, placements and more.

Read our latest newsletter

Research

Our research is focused on environment-society interactions, environmental processes and change, and their governance through regulation, management policies and stakeholder involvement.

Individual staff engage with a wide range of other departments in universities and research institutes from around the world.

Find out more about our research

Academic staff

Student insight

Overall, I cannot fault the course and I thoroughly enjoyed my three years with you. I feel that the transferable skills and the general skills we were taught have been a huge benefit to me. Foreign fieldwork in the third year was a fantastic opportunity.

Natalie Lavell, BSc (Hons) Geography graduate who at the time of writing had completed her PGCE and entered the teaching profession.

Read more feedback from our students

Matt Bishop – graduate profile

Since graduating in 2014, Matt has been planning the first ever circumnavigation of the planet on a scooter with a sidecar. His expedition aims to connect people through storytelling and raise awareness for the fight against modern day slavery.

Learn more about Matt's expedition

Ocean Science at Plymouth

Over 70 per cent of the Earth's surface is covered by water and many of the most difficult and urgent challenges we face relate to interactions between people, land, coasts and oceans and understanding the processes that operate in these environments.

You'll get to grips with these pressing challenges as part of your minor pathway.

Marine Station

Boasting lecture facilities overlooking the sea, a wet lab for sample examination and analysis, a seawater aquarium, and field equipment storage and changing facilities.

The Marine Station is a landmark £5 million development; a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility on the shores of Plymouth Sound.

Discover more about the Marine Station