University of Chester

Programme Specification
Geography BSc (Hons) (Single Honours)
2016 - 2017

Bachelor of Science (Single Honours)


Geography (UCS)

University of Chester

Department of Geography and International Development, University of Chester

University Centre Shrewsbury; fieldwork at all Levels

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years full-time

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Social Science Geography and International Development

Geography (QAA, 2014)


Geography and International Development

Wednesday 15th July 2015

The aims of the Single Honours Geography programme are to:

  • be a thought-provoking, research-orientated and progressive programme of study, which meets national subject benchmarking and the UK Quality Code for HE requirements;
  • allow students to explore both the physical and human dimensions of geography, as well as the connections between the two, with the opportunity to specialise in particular areas of interest at Levels 5 and 6;
  • facilitate an understanding of the changing nature of geography as an academic discipline, and an appreciation of the potential role of the subject in addressing contemporary social and environmental problems;
  • encourage an informed concern about the Earth and its people, an understanding of one's place in wider systems, and a recognition and respect for diversity;
  • facilitate an understanding and application of techniques for the collection, analysis and presentation of geographical data, including through field-based research
  • provide a significant range of teaching and assessment experiences, with an emphasis on active, collaborative, enquiry-led learning;
  • embed key skills provision clearly within modules, including the use of computing, communications and information technologies;
  • encourage the development of reflective students, as the basis for increasingly independent, self-directed, ethically-aware and critical learners;
  • through all of the above, as well as meaningful guidance about careers and postgraduate opportunities, develop the employability of our students

The programme is founded on the spiral curriculum design principle, is progressive, and so provides the opportunity for frequent reinforcement of ideas encountered in earlier stages of study. As such, students address each of the topics listed below at each level of study, with the requirement that they show an increasingly sophisticated engagement with the learning outcomes as they progress. Therefore, at least one module per level is identified next to each outcome in the list below.

  • Comprehension of the causes and consequences of spatial variation in a wide range of physical and human environments (All modules)
  • Critical understanding of a wide range of biophysical and human processes and their geographical distributions (All modules)
  • Awareness and understanding of human impacts on the environment and the reciprocal relationships between human and physical worlds (GE4001, GE4002, GE4004, GE4007, GE4008, GE5002, GE5008, GE5009, GE6001, GE6002, GE6005, GE6006, GE6007, GE6011, GE6013, GE6015, GE6020)
  • Critical understanding of the theory and application of sustainable development and a reasoned concern about the Earth and its peoples (GE4001, GE4002, GE4004, GE4007, GE5008, WB5004, GE6005, GE6006, GE6007)
  • Comprehension of the central significance of spatial and temporal scale to geographical understanding (GE4001, GE4002, GE4007, GE4008, GE5002, GE5008, GE5009, all L6 modules)
  • Critical understanding of the application of a wide range of geographical concepts and techniques to problems and situations (GE4001, GE4002, GE4003, GE5002, GE5006, GE5008, GE5009, GE5013, all L6 modules)
  • Critical understanding of the changing nature of the discipline and its various approaches (GE4001, GE4002, GE5002, GE5006, GE5009, GE5013, GE6001, GE6002)

The programme is founded on the spiral curriculum design principle, is progressive, and so provides the opportunity for frequent reinforcement of ideas encountered in earlier stages of study. As such, students address each of the topics listed below at each level of study, with the requirement that they show an increasingly sophisticated engagement with the learning outcomes as they progress. Therefore, at least one module per level is identified next to each outcome in the list below.

  • Assess the merits of contrasting geographical theories, explanations and approaches (GE4001, GE4002, GE4003, GE5002, GE5006, GE5008, GE5009, GE5013, all L6 modules)
  • Abstract, synthesise and critically evaluate information from a wide range of sources (All modules)
  • Construct a sustained and reasoned argument, articulating personal perspectives when appropriate (All modules)
  • Demonstrate an ability to identify, evaluate and propose answers/solutions to complex problems, including application of reasoned decision-making to ethical problems (GE4003, GE4004, GE5002, GE5006, GE5008, GE5009, GE5013, all L6 modules) 

The programme is founded on the spiral curriculum design principle, is progressive, and so provides the opportunity for frequent reinforcement of ideas encountered in earlier stages of study. As such, students address each of the topics listed below at each level of study, with the requirement that they show an increasingly sophisticated engagement with the learning outcomes as they progress. Therefore, at least one module per level is identified next to each outcome in the list below.

  • Undertake field-based research in an effective manner including careful consideration of both ethical and health and safety issues (GE4003, GE4007, GE4008, GE5002, GE5008, GE5009, GE5013, GE6001, GE6002, GE6005, GE6013, GE6015, GE6018)
  • Implement, and evaluate the merits of, a wide range of approaches for the collection of information in human and/or physical geography (GE4001, GE4002, GE4003, GE5002, GE5008, GE5009, GE5013, GE6001, GE6002, GE6005, GE6006, GE6009, GE6011, GE6013, GE6015, GE6018, GE6020)
  • Demonstrate and assess a wide range of methods for the analysis of data sets in human and/or physical geography, including the safe use of laboratory facilities (GE4001, GE4002, GE4003, GE5002, GE5008, GE5009, GE5013, GE6001, GE6002, GE6009)
  • Understand the principles, and demonstrate the application of, geographical information systems and remote sensing for the analysis and presentation of geographical data (GE4003, GE5013, GE6009, GE6015, GE6020)
  • Collect, summarise concisely and analyse numerical data, using statistical techniques as necessary (GE4003, GE5013, GE6001, GE6002, GE6009)
  • Use information technology proficiently to find, analyse and present geographical information (All modules)
  • Demonstrate an active, autonomous and confident approach to study (All modules)
  • Work effectively with others, sometimes over an extended period of time, including through negotiation of common goals (GE4003, GE4004, GE5002, GE5006, GE5008, GE5009, WB5004, WB5101, GE6005, GE6006, GE6009, GE6015, GE6018)
  • Demonstrate an ability to reflect critically on personal progress and abilities, and to set short term learning targets, partly in the context of career planning (GE4003, GE5008, WB5004, WB5101, GE6001, GE6002)

The programme is founded on the spiral curriculum design principle, is progressive, and so provides the opportunity for frequent reinforcement of ideas encountered in earlier stages of study. As such, students address each of the topics listed below at each level of study, with the requirement that they show an increasingly sophisticated engagement with the learning outcomes as they progress. Therefore, at least one module per level is identified next to each outcome in the list below.

  • Present geographical information accurately using a wide range of methods, including mapping, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches (All modules)
  • Communicate geographical ideas and information clearly and concisely in writing (All modules, except GE4004 and GE5006)
  • Produce well structured research reports, using appropriate conventions for the presentation of quantitative and qualitative information (GE4001, GE4003, GE4007, GE4008, GE5002, GE5009, GE5013, WB5004, WB5101, GE6001, GE6002, GE6005, GE6006, GE6009, GE6011)
  • Communicate geographical ideas and information by means of clear and concise formal oral presentations, using informative visual aids when appropriate (GE4003, GE4004, GE5002, GE5006, GE5008, GE5009, GE6002, GE6005, GE6006, GE6009, GE6015, GE6018)
  • Discuss and debate geographical ideas and information effectively with both peers and tutors (All modules)


The programme structure is progressive and aligned with the Quality Code for HE - Part A (QAA, 2011). This enables students, over time, to understand and critically evaluate increasingly sophisticated ideas and concepts, to apply more complex analytical techniques, to clearly communicate arguments and reasoned personal perspectives in a greater number of ways and to display increasing levels of autonomy.

In summary, Level 4 provides a broad-based introduction to the key dimensions of physical and human geography, sustainable development, as well as core study and research skills. Level 5 provides the first opportunity to specialise towards physical or human geography, whilst maintaining a strong core skills (including Geographical Information Systems - GIS) and research strand, as well as a distinctive experiential learning option. The final year is characterised by an independent research project and a range of optional modules. The following paragraphs expand on this structure in more detail.

There are six 20 credit compulsory modules at Level 4. ‘Introduction to Physical Geography and Geology' (GE4001) and ‘Introduction to Human Geography' (GE4002) are designed to introduce students to the central themes and issues which underpin these two traditional parts of the discipline. ‘Introduction to Sustainable Development' (GE4007) aims to develop an awareness of the key social, economic and environmental principles of SD as it applies to different scales. The 'Border Regions' module (GE4008) also embraces key elements of human and physical geography whilst exploring the origins and implications of spatial boundaries. These four modules are supported and complemented by ‘Foundations for Successful Studentship' (GE4003) and the ‘Tutorial' (GE4004) modules. The former represents a critical element of the Level 4 programme, aiming to facilitate a smooth transition to study in Higher Education by exploring the purpose and culture of Universities as well as core study and research skills, including fieldwork. The tutorials represent a more individualised and smaller scale learning experience providing the opportunity to explore topics of relevance to contemporary geography.

The ‘bedrock' of the Level 5 experience is two 40 credit modules - with one broadly enhancing the knowledge base of students; the other focusing more explicitly on research and further skills development. All students choose between ‘Themes in Physical Geography' (GE5009) and ‘Exploring Human Geography' (GE5002), therefore providing the opportunity to become more specialised. ‘Researcher Development with Geomatics' (GE5013) develops on the initial research experiences provided in GE4003 and guides students towards a wider range of research methods and approaches to project design, to ensure students are well prepared for independent project work at Level 6. The Geomatics strand provides students with a firm grounding in the vocationally-relevant skills of GIS and Remote Sensing. Additionally, the 20 credit ‘Tutorial' module (GE5006) studies the identity, role and value of geography as an academic discipline as part of a wider review of the history and evolution of the subject. The module also encourages students to explore the links between different aspects of their learning experiences and reflect in more detail on their personal progression and development as geographers. The six-week block of time devoted to Experiential Learning at the end of Level 5 represents a very distinctive element of the University of Chester (Shrewsbury) experience. Students choose between a number of 20 credit options including the centrally administered Work-Based Learning module (WB5101), providing the opportunity to gain useful experience of relevant employment in one of a wide range of public and private sector organisations. Alternatively students may use the WBL opportunity to gain direct experience of international development issues (WB5004). Single Honours Geography students with an interest in advancing their field-based skills can select ‘Fieldwork Applications' (GE5008), based around residential fieldwork in New York.

All students in the final year are expected to complete a Dissertation (GE6001) based on a topic of their choice. In exceptional circumstances students may be allowed to complete an Independent Project (GE6002) instead. Beyond this research experience, students are required to select from a range of optional modules which cover more specialised subject knowledge and/or skills and techniques. A number of these modules purposefully take advantage of the holistic nature of the discipline and embrace both physical and human geographical themes, e.g. ‘Sustainable Futures' (GE6006).

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
GE4001 4 Introduction to Physical Geography and Geology 20 Comp
GE4002 4 Introduction to Human Geography 20 Comp
GE4003 4 Foundations for Successful Studentship 20 Comp
GE4004 4 Tutorials 20 Comp
GE4007 4 Introduction to Sustainable Development 20 Comp
GE4008 4 Border Regions: Landscape, Place and Identity 20 Comp
GE5002 5 Exploring Human Geography 40 Comp
GE5006 5 Tutorials 20 Comp
GE5008 5 Fieldwork Applications 20 Optional
GE5009 5 Themes in Physical Geography 40 N/A
GE5013 5 Researcher Development with Geomatics 40 Comp
WB5004 5 Learning in the Wider World 20 N/A
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Optional
GE6001 6 Dissertation 40 N/A
GE6002 6 Independent Project 20 N/A
GE6005 6 Climate Change: The Recent Record and Future Prospects. 20 N/A
GE6006 6 Sustainable Futures 20 N/A
GE6007 6 Emerging Nations 20 N/A
GE6009 6 Remote Sensing and GIS 20 N/A
GE6011 6 Geohazards and Conservation 20 N/A
GE6013 6 City and Countryside: Trends and Prospects 20 N/A
GE6015 6 Coastal Dynamics & Management 20 N/A
GE6016 6 Environment, Poverty and Health 20 N/A
GE6018 6 Excluded Peoples? Migrants and Refugees 20 N/A
GE6020 6 Biogeography: Ecosystem Response to Change 20 N/A

Certificate of Higher Education - 120 credits (Level 4)
Diploma of Higher Education - 240 credits (Level 5)
Honours Degree - 360 credits (Level 6)

UCAS points

A minimum of 300 UCAS points from GCE A Levels, including a grade B in one of the required subjects.

GCE A Level

The programme requires one of the following subjects as essential for entry:

  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Environmental Science


BTEC Extended Diploma/Diploma (Applied Science - Environmental): distinction/merit profile


B in 4 subjects, including Geography or Geology

International Baccalaureate

28 points, including 5 in HL Geography


QAA recognised Access to HE Diploma (must include Geography at Level 3), Open College Units or Open University Credits


OCR National Extended/Diploma: distinction/merit profile plus one of the GCE A levels listed above

Extra Information

Welsh Baccalaureate (core) will be recognised in our tariff offer

Close attention has been paid to the Geography benchmark statement (QAA, 2014) in reviewing the programme's aims and learning outcomes, knowledge and skills content, methods of learning and teaching, and assessment strategy. There has been a particular focus on 'mapping' module learning outcomes against the Geography benchmark requirements.

Across the programme students develop:

1. Knowledge and understanding of: how environments, landscapes and places are shaped and become distinctive, through a range of systems and processes; the drivers and implications of spatial variation and distribution; patterns of change over different timescales, both in physical landscapes and socio-economic contexts; the changing nature of the discipline and the tools it uses to further knowledge; what it means to be an informed and responsible local, national and global citizen.

2. Discipline-specific skills which allow them to: plan, design and execute a piece of rigorous research; undertake effective fieldwork and lab work (with due regard for safety and risk assessment); prepare effective data analyses, diagrams, graphical representations and maps, using a range of social survey, interpretative, technical and laboratory-based methods; combine, interpret and judge different types of geographical evidence; and recognise the moral and ethical issues involved in geographical inquiry.

3. Key skills including: written and oral communication; numerical skills; use of information technology; information handling; team-working; problem-solving; and the developing of self-reflection aimed at improving learning and overall performance.

In summary, the programme team is confident that Single Honours Geography addresses all of the key Knowledge and Understanding and Skills-based benchmark statements through its teaching and learning and assessment activities. However, it is also acknowledged that in a pattern of provision that offers choice, both in terms of modules and self-directed research projects, students will, over time, develop a greater understanding and mastery of some of these benchmarks more than others. 


A stated aim of the Single Honours Geography programme is to provide a range of learning and teaching experiences, partly in recognition of the inevitable diversity of learning styles, backgrounds, abilities and special requirements within most cohorts of students. This aligns well with the requirements of the Quality Code for HE – Part B3 (QAA, 2012). The list below is indicative of the variety of learning and teaching methods employed.

  1. Lectures - a key component of many modules, providing the opportunity to highlight central themes and content, and reinforce key information. However, they represent only the ‘starting point' and students are required to take significant responsibility for their own learning. The remaining approaches listed below place a strong emphasis on active student learning, working in groups, with each other, and in partnership with tutors.
  2. Practical activities - many modules, particularly at Levels 4 and 5, have a weekly practical element, providing the opportunity to explore, discuss and apply key concepts and methods.
  3. One-to-one and tutorial discussions - these provide the opportunity to examine issues and topics in more depth, a forum for reflective discussions and personal development planning, as well as focused guidance for independent research project work.
  4. Fieldwork - an integral part of the Single Honours Geography experience that provides many useful learning opportunities, including the exploration of new places, problem-solving activities, independent and group research projects and the application of theoretical ideas and data collection techniques.
  5. Work-based learning - all students have the option of completing a placement in a public or private sector organisation in the final part of Level 5. This consists of a five-week placement. The focus on self-awareness and reflection in the assessment of this module makes it a very distinctive learning opportunity.
  6. Technology-enhanced learning – technology is used to enhance teaching and support student learning in a wide variety of ways, including through the use of tutor- and student-authored podcasts, discussions boards, social networking tools, mobile data collection devices, and online module resources/activities.
  7. Directed reading - a pivotal element of the learning process, supported by reading lists for all modules, including significant use of e-journals and e-books.

It is recognised that assessment is a pivotal part of the student learning experience (Quality Code for HE – Part B6, QAA, 2011). All module descriptors provide key information on the assessment exercises to be completed, and indicate their relationship to the module learning outcomes. At Level 4, the assessment strategy is focused around relatively frequent, small scale, assignments to provide students with developmental feedback and a sense of progression, moving towards more extended pieces of works at Levels 5 and 6. There are frequent opportunities for formative feedback (both from tutors and peer-to-peer) due to the year-long modular structure, including allowing students to present plans/drafts of summative assignments. Feedback on summative assignments is, of course, critical to the learning process and students receive written comments and/or audio feedback for all coursework. Group feedback sessions are also used for more substantial pieces of work, providing tutors the opportunity to present verbal commentaries on the strengths and weaknesses of student work as a whole.

Diversity of assessment type is a defining feature of the Single Honours Geography programme, a strategy which seems to be well received by students. The development of employability skills is also a key concern in assessment design. Almost all modules are assessed using more than one method - a combination of coursework and examination, or a combination of different coursework types. The list below provides a broad overview of summative assessment methods: 

  • Coursework Essay: GE4001; GE4002; GE4003; GE4007; GE5002; GE5009; GE6007; GE6013; GE6016; GE6018
  • End of module exam or within-class test: GE4001; GE4002; GE4007; GE4008; GE5002; GE5009; GE6006; GE6007; GE6013; GE6015; GE6020 
  • Project Report: GE4002; GE4007; GE4008; GE5002; GE5009; GE5013; GE6001; GE6005; GE6006; GE6009; GE6015
  • Fieldwork Report: GE4003; GE4008; GE5008; GE5009; GE6001; GE6011
  • Oral Presentation (field or class based): GE4003; GE5002; GE5008; GE5009; GE6002; GE6005; GE6006; GE6011; GE6015 
  • C & IT-based exercise: GE4003; GE5013; GE6009; GE6018
  • Other (e.g. poster, tutorial contributions, portfolio, research proposal, lab exercise, briefing paper, press release, employer appraisal, interview, management plan): GE4001, GE4004; GE5006; GE5008; GE5013; GE6001; GE6002; GE6005; GE6006; GE6007; GE6011; GE6013; GE6016; GE6018; GE6020; WB5004; WB5101

The programme learning outcomes and the coverage of benchmarking requirements provide a clear indication of the key characteristics of a good (Upper Second Class Honours or above) graduate who has completed the Single Honours Geography programme. Such a graduate will have acquired a wide range of knowledge and transferable skills and will therefore have the capacity to compete effectively in the employment market or apply successfully for a place on a postgraduate course. Furthermore, embedded careers and employability guidance has been an important feature of the Single Honours Geography programme since its inception. The Department of Geography and International Development negotiates an annual Partnership Agreement with the University's Careers and Employability Service, which underpins an effective working relationship. Bespoke careers guidance and activity sessions are provided within modules at all Levels and this is supported by significant on-line resources.

Example careers which recent Geography graduates from the University of Chester have pursued include Environmental Surveyor, Geo-technical Engineer, Operations & Logistics Coordinator, Housing Officer, GIS Technician, and Project Manager(wind energy). Students have also progressed into postgraduate study, including in GIS, sustainable development, conservation, planning and teacher training.

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

The Department of Geography and International Development has developed each programme and module in line with University policy to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning. Much of the subject matter in Geography naturally affords a range of cultural perspectives and this is particularly so within the Human Geography modules throughout the programme, for example GE4002 Introduction to Human Geography, which is designed to encourage students to consider diversity and equality both practically and theoretically.

The Department works closely with Student Support and Guidance and Disability Support to provide for the needs of students with disability or from culturally diverse backgrounds. This involves flexibility in the delivery of teaching and the design of materials to support all students. The induction week and first year activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to provide development opportunities which give all students an equal chance of succeeding. Assessments are designed to afford equal opportunity to all students to display their knowledge and skills. Anonymous marking enhances equal opportunity to all students.

Currently, compulsory residential fieldwork is funded by the University; optional residential fieldwork (e.g. ‘Fieldwork Applications’, GE5008) is subsidised by the University but requires a student contribution towards the cost of running the learning experience. Detail on these costs is available from the Department, and is drawn to the attention of applicants on Visit Days and to registered students at the time of making module choices. The University occasionally provides bursaries to support student participation in overseas learning experiences.

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