Skip to main content
School of Geography

Missed Open Day? Here’s a Q and A with Admissions Tutor Dr Gemma Harvey


The School of Geography’s Admissions Team at the recent QMUL Open Day.

What’s the difference between a BA and BSc Geography? How much do field trips cost? How much time will I spend in lectures and seminars? These questions and more were tackled by the Geography team of staff and ambassadors at the recent QMUL Open Days. But if you weren’t able to pop by our Mile End campus, our Admissions Tutor Dr Gemma Harvey has put together a list of handy frequently-asked questions to help you find the right programme for you.


What makes the School of Geography at QMUL distinctive from other universities?

QMUL Geography is consistently ranked in the top tiers of university league tables, but the main reason students choose us is our unique mix of research specialisms which inspires our curriculum. We are teaching students about the very latest developments in the discipline and our team is filled with people who have acted as advisers to a range of important organisations such as the Environment Agency, Natural England, Thames21, World Bank, UNESCO, HM Treasury and many more, so they know how to apply this learning in the real world. Our location in east London offers a residential campus and therefore a great student experience in one of the most exciting cities in which to be a student. Our fieldwork options take students to diverse locations from Mumbai to New Zealand as well as around London and the UK. There are also opportunities to “bring the field into the laboratory” in our experimental facilities in the River Lab. Right here in London students benefit from our extensive links with local community and environmental organisations across all three years of the degree programme. Combine this experience with a degree from a Russell Group university, and that’s why you’ll find 93% of our graduates in work or further study just six months after graduation (DLHE 2015).

What is your typical offer?

Our typical offer is ABB. For geography programmes A-level geography is preferred although not required; we usually ask for a grade B in geography or another appropriate subject. For environmental science programmes we require one science subject at A-level (grade B). We consider each application carefully with reference to the personal statement, teacher reference, extended project qualification (EPQ) or other relevant experience. Unconditional offers can also be made based on the strength of application. For the International Baccalaureate our usual offer is 32 with 6,5,5 in Higher Level subjects to include geography.

What is the difference between the Geography BA and BSc and what happens if I choose the wrong one for me?

The main difference is that the BA programme takes you more towards the humanities and social science side of the discipline, and the BSc programme more towards the physical and environmental side. Both of these programmes allow you to explore the breadth of geography and our 1st year students are taught side by side, and are given a common grounding across all our geography programmes. In the 2nd and 3rd year you can choose to specialise within certain aspects of geography or to take a broader range of modules from all those offered by the School. Research methods modules and your choice of independent project topic are also guided by your choice of BA or BSc route. It is possible to transfer between programmes, although this is best done at an early stage in your studies.

I definitely don’t want to do any physical geography. Should I choose the Geography BA or the Human Geography BA?

The Human Geography BA doesn’t include any physical geography modules and your module choice is set on the human geography modules. The Geography BA degree keeps the option to study some physical geography modules open. If you are not sure, choose Geography BA.

How is the Environmental Science programme taught?

The Environmental Science programme is run by the School of Geography and draws on modules from both Geography and QMUL’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. The degree has a strong emphasis on aquatic environments; rivers, coasts and estuaries and marine ecosystems and it provides a range of subject specific and transferable skills to equip you for employment in the environmental sector. You will take modules alongside geographers and biologists and will have a tutor in the School of Geography. You’ll also have access to the School’s laboratory facilities to support practical learning and the ‘Project in Environmental Science’ - an independent research project (dissertation).

How much do the field trips cost?

All the field trips in the 1st year, which are compulsory, are included in your tuition fees. From September 2016, this will include trips to East Anglia for physical geographers and environmental scientists and to Liverpool for human geographers. We also make great use of our location in east London – there’s much to explore in between the City of London and the Olympic Park and beyond. Optional field trips in the 2nd and 3rd years are an additional cost. Recent trips overseas have included Boston, Los Angeles, Florida, New Zealand, Mumbai, Belfast and Dublin. Costs range from £400 to £1,200 and will, of course, vary year-on-year depending on length of stay, exchange rates and size of party, for example – so these prices should be used just to give you an idea.

Can I take modules from other Schools at Queen Mary?

Yes. Any modules taken outside of the School of Geography should be compatible with your academic programme of study, fit within the timetable, be supported by appropriate background, including any prerequisite modules, and be permitted by the School that runs the module you wish to take. Your tutor will be on hand to advise about this.

What sort of careers are available to geographers and environmental scientists?

Geography and environmental science graduates are highly sought-after and we’ve been delighted to see many of our graduates take up roles in a variety of organisations – including environmental consultant, Cabinet Office advisor, teacher, agricultural consultant, lawyer, community organiser and more. The latest stats show that 93% of our graduates are in employment or further study some six months after leaving QMUL.

What sort of lab facilities do you have?

Our newly refitted teaching laboratory is the centre-piece of our laboratory suite, around which we have research facilities for the analysis of water, soil and sediment. Our new River Lab includes two flumes to simulate the natural environment and give you an insight into how rivers behave in different circumstances. We are able to explore a wide range of research projects and environmental problems including the concentration of pollutants and evidence for past climate change. Research methods training in the 1st and 2nd years provides an opportunity to use the lab facilities that our own researchers use and you can also develop your laboratory analytical skills through your independent research project.

How many contact hours would I get with my lecturers?

You can expect to spend between 17 and 23 per cent of your time in lectures, seminars and lab sessions, as applicable, depending on your programme. Academic staff offer dedicated office hours each week in which you can pop by to see them. The School also runs a tutorial system so in addition to lectures and seminars, you’ll meet regularly in small groups with a personal academic tutor.

Do I have to write a dissertation?

Our ‘Independent Geographical Study’ and ‘Project in Environmental Science’ modules are central components of our degree programmes. You will choose your specialist subject with our staff during your 2nd year and plan your topic which will be reported as a 10,000-word dissertation project in your 3rd year. This is the opportunity for you to really explore the subject in greater detail and some of our students have travelled overseas to gather data too.

Do staff involved in research still teach undergraduates?

Yes. All our academic staff in the School of Geography teach at undergraduate level, so you will be taught by world-leading experts in the fields of geography and environmental science. As a School, we pride ourselves on being friendly and welcoming. Student satisfaction with our geography and environmental science programmes is traditionally very high and our students can continue to expect high quality teaching throughout their three years of study.

Are there interviews for QMUL Geography and Environmental Science?

Our decision to offer you a place will be based on your UCAS application. However, in certain circumstances, such as a mature student returning to higher education, an applicant with non-standard qualifications, or with grades below our normal entrance requirements, we will invite you for an interview before making an offer decision. In these cases the interview is important as we are looking for students who can demonstrate not only good academic achievement, but also a real commitment to and enthusiasm for geography or environmental science. If an offer is made following your interview, you will be invited to an Offer Holder Day. The Festivals of Geography, as these days are known, enable offer holders to get a much more detailed insight into studying in the School of Geography at Queen Mary, meet staff and students, and see the facilities. While not compulsory, it is advisable to attend these open days in the event that you miss your target offer grades – admissions staff will consider your level of commitment to the School when making final admissions decisions. Applicants may also be asked to attend an interview in certain cases, such as if they meet our criteria for consideration for the Unconditional Offer Scheme, or if they have alternative qualifications other than A-levels.

Can I take some time abroad as part of my studies?

Yes. There are several opportunities to study or travel overseas during your time at QMUL in addition to the fieldwork you may undertake. In Europe we have a partnership with Roskilde University in Denmark as part of a scheme called Erasmus+ (and there is funding available to do this!). Other students have been selected to study in the USA and there are opportunities in Australia, China, New Zealand and Singapore too. Summer programmes – which do not count towards your degree – are available in China, India and Latin America. Read more about Study Abroad on the website at

Will I get a place in halls of residence if I apply to QMUL?

Queen Mary has one of the largest residential campuses in London, so students enjoy living and being taught on the same site at Mile End. Accommodation in our Student Village is guaranteed for those who: 1) live outside a reasonable commuting distance (ie outside the M25 and prioritised to those living furthest away); 2) apply before the June deadline; and 3) place QMUL as their Firm choice. Read more about this on the Residential Services website at

I’m applying from outside the UK – will my qualifications be recognised and will I be with other international students?

Queen Mary welcomes students from across the world and overall has some 5,000 students from more than 155 countries. The School of Geography has students from a number of countries including Bangladesh, China, Colombia, India, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Thailand and more.
Geography Ambassadors were on hand all day too, to help with enquiries.



Back to top