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School of Geography

Learning at Queen Mary

Course structure

Our programmes are delivered through a range of different teaching and learning methods. On average, you will spend 8-12 hours a week in a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, lab sessions and practical classes - depending on your programme. Class sizes range from large introductory lectures in the first year (50-200 students) to smaller lectures and seminars (around 20-80 students) in the second and third years, with plenty of opportunities for group work and discussion.

You will also take part in regular tutorials (small group sessions with a member of academic staff) where you will receive further advice and guidance on getting to grips with readings and course material and developing your study skills. These take place weekly in the first year and fortnightly in the second year. In the final year, these are replaced with one-to-one meetings with your advisor as you prepare for your independent research project and plan your career.

Many of the modules also include fieldwork components (in the UK and abroad) where you can spend time in the field with members of staff, putting your research skills into practice and real world experience. We also have excellent teaching facilities and have recently invested £2.2 million in laboratories and equipment to support analysis and fieldwork for our geography and environmental science degree programmes.

Independent Study

For every hour spent in classes you will be expected to complete a further 4-6 hours of independent study. Your individual study time could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions, reading, producing coursework, completing projects, and revising for exams.

The direction of your individual study will be guided by the formal study sessions you attend, along with your reading lists and assignments. However, we expect you to demonstrate an active role in your own learning by reading widely and expanding your own knowledge, understanding and critical ability.

Independent study will foster in you the ability to identify your own learning needs and determine which areas you need to focus on to become proficient in your subject area. This is an important transferable skill and will help to prepare you for the transition to working life.


Students must complete modules totalling 120 credits each year. Most of our modules are assessed through a combination of coursework and examination. Coursework takes a variety of forms, including extended essays, short reports, posters, oral presentations and group work. You will also participate in problem-based learning, where you work in small, collaborative groups with guidance from the lecturer or seminar leader.

Coursework is submitted throughout the academic year. Exams are held in January and May and may include short answer questions, problem solving or essays. All students must complete a final-year dissertation (Independent Geographical Study or Project in Environmental Science) of 10,000 words based upon an original study of their choice.

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