BSc (Hons) Human Geography

Key information

Why choose this course?

  • We are ranked 14th for Geography and Environmental studies in the UK
  • Pay no extra fees for our year one and two residential field trips
  • Take part in staff research & help solve real world problems

You’re fascinated by the interactions of people and the environment. You’re interested in environments, migration, transport and geopolitics. The world faces many challenges, such as population growth, deprivation, urban sprawl and land conflicts. Join our Human Geography programme to learn how you can be a part of solving such issues.

We are perfectly located for the study of Human Geography; you'll have urban, suburban and rural environments right on your doorstep. You’ll be close to the country’s first New Town and the world’s first Garden City. Using the rich history of the settlements and environments around us, you’ll learn from past events and be equipped with the skills and knowledge to improve our future.

We understand that Physical Geography and Environmental Management may also interest you. That’s why we’ve designed a flexible programme. At Herts, all our students share the same first year, so if you want to change direction you can. We believe in flexibility, so you can do what you love the most as you develop your interests with us.

Your world: a living laboratory   

We’re passionate about human geography and our mission is to inspire you. That’s why field trips have always been a major part of our curriculum. From the Lake District to Switzerland, we’ll give you every opportunity we can to experience human geography first-hand. The good news is that all field trips in your 1st and 2nd year are included in your tuition fees. Our students have explored many and varied locations; from those rich in history and heritage, to the hyper-modern mega-cities of today. Together we’ll cross rivers, borders, and communities to explore the complex geographical interactions between humans and their environment.

Want to find out more about transport geography too? You could take the opportunity to work with our local University bus company, UNO and other local transport providers and stakeholders. If you want to go further afield, we’ll give you opportunities to explore urban life, geopolitical conflicts, tourism and regeneration, immersing yourself in different cultures, customs, and communities, both in the UK and overseas. You’ll be enhancing your research and employability skills in the process.

 Become a technical specialist 

We train you in the skills you need to succeed and compete in the jobs market. For example, you can develop specialist skills in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to capture, visualise and analyse the spatial data around you. Our dedicated GIS suite has all the tech you need to bring your research to life. We’ll teach you the latest software to analyse geospatial data, using footage taken by our fleet of drones and data collected during your field trips. Your assignments will be enriched by dynamic research opportunities. When you graduate, your technical expertise will be sought after by employers. Plus, you’ll have a degree accredited by the Royal Geographical Society.

Join a rich learning community  

We’re incredibly proud of our close-knit learning community.  Right from the start, we’ll value you as a member of our student-staff family. We have an excellent staff to student ratio, which means we get to know you. We’ll get to understand how you learn best. We’ll tailor our teaching to your needs. We’ll work together to explore and discover. You’ll have the chance to join in with nights out and social events such as hill walking weekends, quiz evenings and bake offs! Take your passion to the next level in a supportive and friendly environment.

This course is full of opportunity, where your passion can evolve, and your curiosity will grow.

What's the course about?

It's an exciting time to study Human Geography at the University of Hertfordshire, as space and place has become locally, regionally, nationally, and supra-nationally contested throughout the world. You’ll investigate a range of fascinating topics, including population change and migration, geopolitical conflicts and issues, socio-spatial inequalities, and solutions to urban and rural challenges. 

You’ll learn from research and teaching staff who work on future mobilities and living labs. You’ll study migration pathways and gateway towns. Our staff are experts in fields such as demographics, marginalisation, planning and urbanism.  

You’ll investigate planned settlements, contested spaces and places, and consider the role that political and economic geography can play to help you understand society better.  

You’ll kick start your first year with a trip to the Lake District, learning how to think geographically and collect and analyse field data. You’ll learn about the approaches geographers take towards governing and planning human spaces. How do they manage conflict within these spaces? How do human geographers, environmentalists and physical geographers work together? You’ll enjoy a blend of all Geography pathways and explore how they interlink in everyday life.   

In your second year, you'll take another trip, this time to Switzerland. Here you’ll explore their unique urban, rural and physical landscapes, from rivers and glaciers to settlements and alpine communities. You’ll explore exclusion and marginalisation from a uniquely European perspective. And of course, as the world continues to digitalise, so do geographers. You'll enhance your cartographical and GIS skills to visualise data and learn to generate maps. 

Between your second and final year, you can add an optional year to study abroad or do a work placement, or you can continue directly into your final year. You could gain work experience to enhance your CV and improve your chance of a better degree classification. Or you can spend a year abroad at one of our partner universities around the world, gaining international experience, invaluable as you prepare to enter the global economy upon graduation. Recent year abroad locations include  Canada, USA, Hawaii, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.   

In your final year, you’ll follow your passion. You’ll explore what matters to you.  Immerse yourself in a project of your choosing. You could focus on the history of state formation and border disputes in a particular region. Or maybe you have an interest in urban regeneration and its link to crime. This is your chance to undertake your own research to investigate and critically engage with the world around you.   

Your main campus is College Lane     

This is where the creative arts, science and health-related subjects are based. This means you’ll share the campus with future nurses, scientists, artists and more. You can use the common rooms to relax with friends, work out in the 24-hour gym or have a drink in our on-campus pub or cafes. We also have restaurants for you to eat in or grab something on the go. Our Learning Resources Centres are open 24/7, which means you can study whenever suits you best. Want to pop over to the other campus? You can take the free shuttle bus or walk there in just 15 minutes.   

What will I study?

Degree programmes are structured into levels, 4, 5 and 6. These correspond to your first, second and third/final year of study.  Below you can see what modules you’ll be studying in each. 

Student Blogs

Emily - Week at a glance

My week at a glance

Geography is a continually active and dynamic course to study, so each week looks different to every geographer. In the first year, everyone gets to do the same things, so that’s both physical and human geography, and really get to understand the links between the two sides – so you never really know what to expect each week, which is actually quite exciting because it’s something different to always experience. My week is constantly changing and very crazy so strap in for the ride and let me tell you my journey of a week.

I begin my week by organising all my notes and making sure that I know what lecturers and where they are, that I have that week – just to become extra prepared. The next thing that I do is get a good night’s sleep on Sunday, just so that I feel extra prepared for that long Monday morning and knowing what the rest of the week has in store for me. Every morning, I make sure to stick to a strict routine. I wake up at the same time every morning – usually around 06:30 so that I have enough time to have an easy morning to get ready. I shower and make sure I’m looking... semi-presentable, and then have some breakfast to give me some energy, especially with those nine arms. I go to all my lectures, seminars, workshops, and practicals are just so that I get the most out of my education and to fully immerse myself in the University experience. Of these classes, I usually go back to my room and compile all my notes, organise my work and make sure that my room and all my work is tidy and in order because a tidy workspace is a tidy mind 😊

In my course, I tend to go to a lot of extracurricular activities that the School of Life and Medical Sciences and the Geography Department Organise. Despite all of the weekly field trips that we go on and our fortnightly trips to the ecology field station, I attend their spontaneous TEDx talks on climate change, academic support sessions, attend regular meetings with all of my lecturers to catch up with them, and utilise my role/responsibility as a course representative and student buddy with the University and Geography department

Apart from attending all my lecturers, some other things that I do at university is just going out with friends. My friends and I, all love to just go into each other’s flats and sit and talk. We watch movies, listen to music, and spend a lot of time in spoons. I do love spending time with my friends, but I also love spending time myself. I love just sitting and relaxing in my room, listening to music, and watching Netflix, just getting to be me and be more comfortable in the University environment. One of the best and most important parts of my week is getting to speak with my family every night because I can unload any stress onto them and tell them about all the crazy stuff that I’ve been up to 😊

During my week, I make sure to have a clear balance between University life and University work. I manage my time around sorting out myself and my work, attending wellbeing classes and making use of the Universities facilities, going to talks and extra activities with my course, doing my weekly shopping and eating out with my friends, going swimming as my exercise and spending time focusing and developing on myself. Apart from studying, I work a part-time job as a Senior Student Ambassador at the University, working around my crazy timetable, allowing myself to both work and study at the same time, being incredibly helpful to me so I can still support myself, take time for me, study, learn and learn to live.

Student Blogs

Emily - Why I love Geography

What I love most about my course

The question that I get asked the most about my course is, why the geography of all subjects? What can you even do with geography, isn’t that just rocks and countries? It may not seem all that fascinating to you but let me tell you .... the subject of geography is one awesome thing, but once you see the passion and the energy behind the development of the topics – especially in today’s age, you’ll want to be a part of this community. As geographers, we hold ourselves as the real leaders of the future generation, albeit undercover, as most people don’t really understand what we’re talking about half the time! – but hey, that’s quite cool 😊

One of the main things that are amazing about my course is how we deal with the real world constantly. We don’t just sit in lecturers and listen to the lecturer's talk and talk about theories – like you would think. We tend to dissolve into heated debates about topical climate issues, and even the role of globalisation with this COVID-19 Pandemic. We are a close-knit, small and tight group of people, meaning that we get to know each other well, like a family, and we get more one to one time without lecturers to get the best experience out of enhancing our education.

Another cool thing about studying Geography, especially at Hertfordshire, is that we get to study every aspect of geography. We don’t just study human geography, but we also study everything in the realm of physical geography too. In our constant practical’s, we deal with real-life objects, machinery, and field equipment, so that we get first-hand knowledge on how to complete these activities in real life. The opportunities that we get are incredible, and through being a student representative and student buddy, I can stand up for my course and get the absolute best that we all can out of it.

The University of Hertfordshire is one of only two universities in the UK that has its own field station – Bayfordbury, which carries out its own research, in which we as the students can get involved with. We also go on two “compulsory” field trips, the first to the lake district and the second to Switzerland and they are the highlight of your university experience for sure – I know for one that I will never forget these experiences in my life, as they have completely made my whole University experience forever 😊

Geography is a different course. It is a unique and special subject that is incredibly employable, which can be a pathway into a successful future. You get to experience so many amazing things and going to university is an incredibly rare experience, but Geography so interesting and current, especially because you will be a part of the future.

Student Blogs

Fiona - Why I chose Herts

Why I chose Herts

Hey, my name is Fiona and I spent the last four years studying Human Geography at the University of Hertfordshire. I came to university in 2016 quite shy with little confidence and can safely say my time here has helped me develop into a much more confident, expressive, and accomplished individual. It has been amazing!

The department

From start to finish I felt acknowledged and supported by my lecturers and other staff in Geography & Environment which has helped me in my journey here hugely. I have not once felt forgotten about or ignored, and consistently experienced the staff continuously prioritise student needs primarily and make sufficient time to aid all students in their struggles. University can be extremely challenging, and the support from the department has really helped me excel in my subject.

The field trips

Another reason I loved studying at the University of Hertfordshire was, of course, the field trips. Geography & Environment offers a range of field trips abroad and in this country, which are highly relevant to the course and enrich the learning of all students. I have made some incredible memories on these trips and seen some amazing things, from the Peak District to Switzerland and many more. My most memorable field trip must be the first-year trip to the Lake District. It was then that I realised I would have the best three to four years of my life and would make friends for life. Students are encouraged to interact in field trips like this which really builds the social aspect of the course. Other events such as quiz nights, coffee mornings and arranged social gatherings add to the sociability within the course, and help you develop relationships with students and staff, helping in creating an extremely happy, friendly, and interactive geography community unlike any other within the university. I even got to opportunity to go on a ‘Hillwalking weekend’ with others in Geography & Environment to help relieve the stresses of final year and see some awesome scenery along the way. It was peaceful and stress-free apart from when we had to slide our way down a snowy mountain! All fun and games though, right?

My placement year and future careers

Geography & Environment staff always push you to be the best you can be and support you in whatever endeavour you may choose. From writing references to helping with placement applications, the department really does offer it all. I am extremely grateful to have undertaken a placement year in Town Planning as part of my course, which helped me gain confidence and valuable experience that helps me immensely in the graduate job application process. My placement and range of course material offered throughout my degree has really inspired me and helped me find areas within the field of politics, environment, and planning which I am passionate about.

I would like to thank the Geography & Environment department for all their hard work, support, and guidance over the last four years. I will miss the geography community immensely, however, I leave with the best memories, feeling incredibly lucky to have been part of it for so long. I can safely say I am a more dedicated, inspired, and resilient individual because of my time here.

University is a challenging but amazing time of your life, and I can guarantee it can be made more amazing by studying geography at the University of Hertfordshire.

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Student Blogs

Bijal - Unibuddy

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Alumni Stories

Laura McNally

Meet Laura McNally who has turned her passion for the environment into a career. Since graduating in 2005, she has excelled in her career and is currently an Area Visitor Services Manager at Forestry and Land Scotland

Read more stories Find out more about this course
Current job roleArea Visitor Services Manager at Forestry and Land Scotland
Year of graduation2005
Course of studyBSc (Hons) Geography and Geology
Laura McNally

Laura did not know what she wanted to do after graduating or what career she would end up in. Her studies led her towards a career in sustainability and she is currently an Area Visitor Services Manager at Forestry and Land Scotland.

Her role involves a variety of responsibilities including the management of and improvement to the visitor offer at Forestry and Land Scotland sites around Strathspey (northern Cairngorms), south shore of Loch Ness and Inverness including the Black Isle. She deals with a variety of local stakeholders to ensure that all are involved in the successful management of the sites.

Laura remains passionate about sustainability and has recently begun studying for an MBA alongside her job. Her final project is entitled  ‘Visitor management and adaptation in a climate emergency’.

When talking about sustainability Laura has some very clear advice for individuals and business alike, 'In sustainability, be open and honest. There are contradictions and compromise everywhere (e.g. between plastic reduction and carbon footprint, between electric cars and their lithium batteries).

Be clear about your or your company's priorities and be open if you have to make compromises to achieve that but seek ways to minimise those compromises.'

Real-world application

Laura says her time at the University has been hugely useful in her professional career. She says, 'The geographic information system (GIS) element of the course was particular useful as both a GIS Manager and in the Royal Air Force which placed heavy use on remote sensing. I also took a placement year at a local authority who offered me a part time position throughout my final year and a permanent role upon leaving.'

She says she had a lot of flexibility in her studies and the University offered many opportunities to combine her personal interests and professional goals. Placement years are a fantastic aspect of study that gives students invaluable practical experience in the professional world which often leads to employment and fruitful careers.

Laura adds, 'The placement opportunity helped me figure out how my interests could fit into a job and set me up for my career.' She also says the flexible module structure on her degree helped her increase her employability by tailoring her degree to match her career goals.

Be clear about your or your company's priorities and be open if you have to make compromises to achieve that but seek ways to minimise those compromises.