School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

BA (Hons) Geography with International Relations

Discover the core principles of human geography while also exploring key international political and economic issues. In your geography modules you study the relationships between people, place and environment, while in International Relations the focus is on understanding the international political landscape. Gain knowledge and skills our supportive academic staff who are expert researchers in their field. Study abroad, international field trips and placement opportunities are available.

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).

Scholarships for outstanding applicants

The School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences’ scholarship scheme recognises and rewards students joining our degree courses who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement.

Scholarships of £1,000 will be awarded to the two applicants in geography who achieve the highest grades in their A level or equivalent exams. The scholarship will be awarded during their first year of study at the University of Plymouth.

Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2022*

The University of Plymouth has been named among the top 5% of universities globally in 2022 for its contribution to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals*, in particular, work on marine issues and on climate change. In the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, sustainability is at the heart of our research and teaching. From sustainable cities, affordable and clean energy, to climate policy, biodiversity, and natural hazards, our academic staff work with partners locally and overseas to help understand, communicate and solve fundamental and pressing sustainability challenges.

Find out more in our press release

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.

What can you do with a geography degree?

Key features

  • Our newly designed Geography curriculum places sustainability challenges at the centre, with modules designed to help address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Choose from an exciting range of human geography and international relations choice modules.
  • Our supportive staff are expert researchers and many are world leaders in their field.
  • Teaching is innovative and student-centred. You will learn through lectures, seminars, practicals, national and international residential fieldwork, tutorials and one-to-one dissertation support.
  • Learn to use Geographical Information Systems to analyse and communicate complex spatial data.
  • Take the opportunity to spend your second year studying abroad in Europe, Canada, Australia, USA or elsewhere through our bilateral and ISEP exchange programmes.
  • Experience a valuable work placement programme, opening up a range of career opportunities such as consultancy, policy development and management, teaching, planning and conservation.
  • LABplus is a unique open access laboratory and resource centre designed for students studying science and engineering courses. The lab provides a flexible workspace, computing facilities, specialist software, access to microscopes, microscope cameras and bespoke resources.
  • We’re very proud of our National Student Survey (NSS) 2020 return which shows student satisfaction overall at 96 per cent for human geography.
  • Benefit from our unique location, in the heart of the historical city of Plymouth, bordered by Dartmoor National Park as well as the Tamar Valley and South Hams Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Devon and Cornwall have glorious beaches, coasts, rivers and estuaries.

Course details
  • Year 1

  • Lectures, tutorials, practicals and local fieldwork introduce you to the key concepts and theories in human geography and international relations. You are given training in research techniques such as data analysis, statistics and fieldwork.

    Core modules

    • Changing Places (GGH1202)

      Here we begin our overview of contemporary human geography. The module is structured around key themes that are prominent in geographical thinking about how society is organised spatially, and how it changes. Lectures provide a framework for understanding, and through fieldwork and follow-up practical classes, we explore examples these themes using quantitative data, graphic and spatial statistical analysis.

    • Culture, Society and Space (GGH1203)

      Here we continue our overview of contemporary human geography. The module is again structured around key themes that are prominent in geographical thinking about how society is organised spatially. Lectures provide a framework for understanding these themes, and through fieldwork and follow-up practical classes, we explore local examples using quantitative and qualitative data, and statistical analysis.

    • Geographical Journeys (GGX1205)

      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.

    • Sustainable Futures (GGX1206)

      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.

    • Imagining World Order (PIR4003)

      This module introduces the essential terms, concepts and processes of international relations analysis. It describes the main features of the international system since its evolution from the Treaty of Westphalia, continuities and discontinuities with earlier international systems, plus the move from state sovereignty to global governance in the contemporary context. It also introduces the primary theories of international relations analysis, whilst putting their emergence and development into historical context.

    • International Relations Since 1945 (PIR4005)

      This module provides an introduction to the historical development of the international political system since 1945. It provides a crucial background to the major processes and actors that have shaped the contemporary international system.

  • Year 2

  • An overseas fieldwork option may also be chosen with trips recently having run to the USA, Iceland, Portugal, Ireland and France. You also have
    the chance to study abroad (Europe, North America or Australia). Develop your knowledge further by choosing optional modules which explore many
    important themes of human geography such as nature and society, social and cultural geography, transport, travel and mobilities.

    Core modules

    • Principles and Applications of Geography 1 (GGX2201)

      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.

    • Principles and Applications of Geography 2 (GGX2202)

      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.

    • Placement Preparation (GEES2000)

      This module explores the role of placements, work experience and volunteering for enhancing employability whilst at university and as a future graduate. It considers placement options (types, durations) and supports students in developing applications and preparing for interviews.

    Optional modules

    • Nature, Country and Society (GGH2206)

      This module explores the relationship of human societies to nature and the country. You will examine different understandings of nature and rurality, and how these affect the ways in which different cultures approach environmental problems.  We will consider how the countryside is changing and the implications for people and nature. The module will also ask you to think about your own lives in relation to these ideas.

    • Transport, Travel and Mobilities (GGH2207)

      We establish a framework for investigating how and why people move, and why this is important. After focusing on the politics and policy of mobility, we consider people’s everyday mobilities (such as walking, cycling and commuting) and uses of travel time, socialities and embodied encounters. We look at the mobility of specific groups, in particular domestic and international students, within their everyday communities.

    • Geographical Information Systems (GGX2203A)

      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.

    • Fieldwork in Geography (GGX2204)

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

    • Urban Planning, Design and Security (GGH2208)

      Planning, design and security increasingly play a crucial part in developing and managing relationships between people and the built environment and in shaping the geographies of urban places. This module provides a critical understanding of the evolution and operation of urban planning, design and security across a range of global contexts.

    • International Security Studies (PIR5008)

      This module considers the issue of security in contemporary international relations. It examines a variety of different security concepts from deterrence and the security dilemma to arms control, peacekeeping, terrorism, regional security complexes and governance. It then seeks to relate these to practical examples from world politics.

    • Democracy in the UK: An Introduction to British Politics (PIR5005)

      This module presents an introduction to a basic understanding of how governance and democracy is organised in the United Kingdom. We explore the post war history of the UK, its evolving constitutional settlement, political institutions, regions, political parties, and devolution. We apply theoretical notions of democracy to the empirical reality of political life in the United Kingdom in the present day, against the backdrop of declining trust in institutions and eroding political engagement.

  • Optional placement year

  • This is your opportunity to spend a year working in industry to improve your knowledge of applied geography 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

    • Placement (GEES3000)

      This module is a placement position, where a student undertakes a programme of work within a host company or organisation. The placement occurs within a yearlong period, meeting minimum duration requirements. Students experience applying their degree, experience professional practice, develop enhanced subject-related knowledge and skills, and undergo personal-professional development.

  • Final year

  • In your final year, you’ll write a dissertation on your choice of topic. You can also choose from geography and international relations optional modules, including: political geography, the competitive city, global environmental politics and economic development in developing economies.

    Core modules

    • Dissertation in Geography (GGX3200)

      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.

    Optional modules

    • Sustainable Cities (GGH3207)

      The aim of the module is to explore the challenges of sustainable urban growth in contemporary cities, in the UK and internationally. A key focus is understanding how spatial planning and urban governance can tackle sustainable development and climate change challenges in an increasingly urban world. Using geographical concepts, these issues will be explored through case studies and good practice from a range of cities.

    • Citizenship, Territory and War (GGH3208)

      As Brexit, climate-change protests and national independence movements demonstrate, politics and geography matter. Using contemporary case studies, this module explores the geographies of citizenship, territory and war. We identify and discuss varied forms of spatial governance, from local to national, maritime to global, as well as exploring contemporary processes and ideologies that challenge these forms.

    • Living Landscapes (GGH3209)

      This module introduces students to the geographic study of landscape. The module considers everyday practices of living in landscapes in terms of the construction of identity, memory, and power; how such landscapes come to be portrayed through a variety of media, including film, literature, and music. The module expands students’ understanding of the forms that landscapes can take and the complexity of living therein.

    • Environmental Politics and Governance (GGH3210)

      This module explores the main concepts and forces shaping environmental politics and governance. It examines how science, ethics, interests and power influence environmental debate and decision-making, using case studies of climate change, energy, deforestation, air pollution, marine protection and Antarctica to interrogate how governments and other actors have strived to address global to local environmental challenges.

    • Work Based Learning in Geography (GGX3203)

      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.

    • Big Data & Spatial Analytics (GGX3204)

      This module provides an overview of advanced spatial analysis concepts and facilitates practice of data processing and management skills. Data manipulation through programming is introduced and the concept of big data is presented. Themes and practice around the acquisition, processing, analysis, visualisation and application of big data are explored, drawing on examples from across the natural and social sciences.

    • Europe in the World (PIR307)

      The European Union is the world's major trading block and its most integrated region. This module takes a holistic look at the EU's role in the world and the link between its economic and political presence. Accordingly it concentrates on the impact of the EU on the world (including the developing world) but also considers the internal dynamics of Europe.

    • The Politics and International Relations of the Middle East (PIR312)

      "The module introduces students to international relations in the Middle East. It equips them with the analytical skills to examine the Arab-Israeli conflict, Gulf conflicts, and the impact of the Arab Spring on regional politics. "

    • Mao to Now: the Politics of Modern China (PIR314)

      This module introduces students to politics in China. It provides them with the analytical skills and historical understanding to examine the structure of the contemporary Chinese state, looking in particular at Maoist legacies, nationalism and ideology, the relationships between party, law, state and market, and China’s involvement in international affairs.

    • Africa in the International System (PIR313)

      This module provides an introduction to African politics, examining the historical, economic and socio-political developments of over fifty states with a strong regional emphasis, and a particular focus on political economy, state-society relations, foreign policy and conflict analysis. The module’s regional focus allows comparison between different approaches to international relations. It also seeks to provide the tools to analyse and understand what is going on in Africa today.

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:

BA Geography With International Relations ProgrammeSpecification 1873

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.

In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the changeable nature of the situation and any updates to government guidance, we may need to make further, last minute adjustments to how we deliver our teaching and learning on some or all of our programmes, at any time during the academic year. We want to reassure you that even if we do have to adjust the way in which we teach our programmes, we will be working to maintain the quality of the student learning experience and learning outcomes at all times.
Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

104 - 112

IB
26-27 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 courses 
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.

T level: Merit.

GCSE
Mathematics and English language grade C/4.

Other
Equivalent qualifications may be considered.

English language requirements.

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2022-2023 2023-2024
Home £9,250 £9,250
International £14,600 £16,300
Part time (Home) £770 £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. More information about fees and funding.

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 admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

Assessment

  • 6 Practical: 10%
  • . Exams: 0%
  • b Coursework: 88%
  • b Open book assessment: 2%

Fieldwork*

Fieldwork is an essential part of studying geography. Our Royal Geographical Society accreditation means that all of our degree courses include learning through practical experience from the field. 
*Fieldwork may be subject to change due to staffing and external factors, such as covid restrictions.

USA fieldwork

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.
Geography research

Academic staff

<p>Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) logo<br></p>

Student insight

"Skills picked up on fieldwork courses are valuable in future careers and the parts of the course that were most useful to me in my current job were transferable skills, the use of various computer packages and all the statistics modules."
Jane Childs, BA (Hons) Geography graduate
Richard Halfmoon Council Chambers

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.

International relations at Plymouth

Immerse yourself in the ideologies, political interests, and debates that influence past and present relationships between people, places, and environments, and explore the decisions made by governments and global institutions.
Understand how the geopolitical world works, examining the consequences of actions at both the local and global scales.
International flags photo c/o Istock

*These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Discover Uni is updated annually in September.