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 degree allows you to focus on physical geographical processes while also studying ocean science. Plymouth’s coastal location, close to Dartmoor and flanked by two major estuaries, is the perfect setting to study marine and terrestrial environments.

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).

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.

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 physical geography and ocean science modules. 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • A diverse and respectful place in which to work and study is fundamental to everything we do. Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science.

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 as well as develop a key grounding in physical geography.

    Core modules

    • Environment and Climate (GGP1206)

      Here we continue our overview of contemporary physical geography (which begins in GGP1207). 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.

    • 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.

    • Physical and Chemical Processes of the Ocean (OS102)

      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.

    • Introduction to Biodiversity and Marine Ecosystems (OS109)

      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.

    • Water, Landscape and Environmental Management (GGP1208)

      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 fieldwork and supporting laboratory classes we explore examples of their local manifestation using quantitative data, graphic and spatial statistical analysis.

    • Our Digital Planet (GGX1207)

      This module explores the challenges and most pressing issues facing our planet today. Students will discover the role of geographic data analyses and visualisation techniques to provide solutions.  Data analysis, GIS and cartographic techniques will be introduced using real-world examples. Students will meet with a personal tutor regularly, to support them through tutorials as they adjust to university-level study. 

  • 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

    • 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.

    • Global Ocean Processes (OS201)

      This module explores the large-scale distribution and characteristics of water masses and biogeochemical properties throughout the global oceans. Physical mechanisms that drive the global circulation in a changing climate will be investigated alongside their role in determining the transport of chemical constituents throughout the open ocean and in shelf seas. The life cycles and distribution of marine organisms and the structuring of marine foodwebs will be explored.

    • Waves, Tides and Coastal Dynamics (OS204)

      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.

    • 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

    • Weather and Climate (ENVS2005)

      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.

    • Quaternary to Anthropocene (GGP2206)

      The Earth has undergone significant and fundamental changes during our current interglacial period (the last ~12,000 years), to the point of a new Geological epoch being suggested: the Anthropocene. This module focuses on deepening students’ understanding of how our planet has moved from one that was nature-dominated to the current culture-dominated environment we inhabit, at both local, continental and global scales.

    • Catchment to Coast (GGP2207)

      Practically all human-environment interactions take place within river catchments and the coastal zone. To address key environmental challenges of the 21st century, such as climate change and sustainable resource management, we need to understand how these integrated systems function. This module provides the process knowledge required to contribute to global and local debates, and includes field and laboratory work.

    • 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.

  • 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

    • 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

  • 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

    • 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.

    • Ocean Dynamics (OS303)

      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.

    • Coastal Geomorphology and Estuaries (OS306)

      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

    • Dryland Change (GGP3209)

      Drylands comprise 47% of the world’s land surface and are home to > 2 billion people. They are highly susceptible to environmental change (human, climate, tectonic), and preserve archives of that change over human to Quaternary timescales. This module builds expertise in reading the geomorphological record of drylands (process and landform), and examines the challenges of living sustainably with these dynamic landscapes.

    • 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.

    • Long-term Environmental Change (GGP3211)

      Society is dependent on the environment for sustaining life as we currently know it. This module takes a series of environmental challenges and places them in a long-term perspective to place current disruptions in a longer-term context. The module focusses on how we can learn lessons from the past to manage our current and future environment.

    • Work Based Learning in Geography and Sustainability (GEES3001)

      This module provides an opportunity for students to experience professional practice in environmental management and sustainability. Students will undertake a minimum of 100 hours service with a professional organisation (private, public or third sector). You will investigate the organisation's practice in environmental management and sustainability and further develop professional attitudes and behaviours.

    • Contemporary Arctic and Alpine Challenges (GGP3212)

      High latitudes and altitudes are warming faster than many other regions of the world. This module takes a contemporary, and forward looking, perspective on the grand challenges that impact the resilience of these landscapes and societies in present and future climates and their associated hazards. Students will learn practical skills to quantify environmental pressures and critically evaluate mitigation strategies

    • Climate Change Action (ENVS3016)

      The module introduces climate change adaptation and mitigation. Biotic and technological mitigation will be explored and evaluated in the context of different geographical settings.

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 ProgrammeSpecification September2024 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
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 
| 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.
Other
Equivalent qualifications may be considered.
We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

Student 2023-2024 2024-2025
Home £9,250 £9,250
International £16,300 £18,100
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.

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.

Tuition fees for optional placement years

The fee for all undergraduate students completing any part of their placement year in the UK in 2023/2024 is £1,850.
The fee for all undergraduate students completing their whole placement year outside the UK in 2023/2024 is £1,385.
Learn more about placement year tuition fees

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

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.

Oscar, BA (Hons) Geography student, shares his experience of a course field trip in Torquay.

Our suite of courses offer opportunities for overseas fieldwork. 

Discover facilities in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

As student in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences you will have access to a range of cutting-edge resources and facilities.  
These will support your learning in the field and in the laboratory – whether in traditional chemistry lab or a high-performance computing room. Many are solely for the use of our students and researchers and you will also have access to LABplus Resource Centre and the Marine Station.
 
Students using a petrographic microscope

Centre for Research in Environment and Society (CeRES)

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.
Soil erosion. Will Blake. 

Academic staff

Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) logo
*These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Discover Uni is updated annually in September.