Barcelona Field Studies Centre

The Value of Geography

Geography is a richly diverse and comprehensive subject that provides us with an understanding of our changing and interconnected world. It involves the study of physical environments and resources; cultures, economies and societies; people and places; and global development and citizenship. As an academic subject, it is valued by universities and a very broad range of employers in part because it provides a context for looking at contemporary issues from a wide perspective. These issues affect us all at work and in our daily lives and help inform the decisions that will shape our future. In addition, a study of geography develops many relevant and transferable skills directly related to a wide range of careers. The development of specific skills of high value include:

  • fieldwork investigation including sampling, data collection, data presentation, statistical techniques and analysis;
  • research and report writing;
  • preparing maps and diagrams;
  • using social survey and interpretative methods;
  • collecting and analysing information using GIS and remote sensing;
  • recognising the values and attitudes involved in debates and enquiries;
  • analysing and problem-solving;
  • decision-making;
  • critically interpreting data and text;
  • developing a reasoned argument;
  • numerical skills;
  • interpreting and presenting relevant numerical information;
  • team working;
  • planning skills;
  • presenting oral and written arguments;
  • information, communication and technology skills (ICT) - including word processing, website and graphic design, internet communications and information retrieval.

Geographers typically emerge from university numerate, computer literate, with excellent organisational abilities and the ability to synthesize and analyse large quantities of information quickly and effectively.

Geography has one of the lowest graduate unemployment rate of all the major academic subject disciplines in the UK higher education system. A 2010 poll of over 200,000 graduates from UK universities found that those with geography degrees had the lowest rate of unemployment six months after graduation of any discipline polled, bar none (Higher Education Career Services Unit). Sources

Geography and Careers

There has been an increase in the range of careers available for students graduating with a geography qualification. Almost all UK universities offer a pure Geography course, and many offer the subject in combination with others e.g. Geology, Environmental Studies, Engineering and Oceanography. Some of the growth areas in the environmental career field include meteorology, water quality, agricultural crops, fisheries, gardening/landscaping, waste recycling, pollution control, renewable energy and rural/environment management.

Many University departments provide information on the careers and further study choices of their graduating students. A recent graduate sample from University of Hull Geography Department (UK) includes:

  • Information Officer
  • Transport Assistant
  • Events and Promotion Organiser
  • Comenius Language Assistant - British Council - Czech Republic
  • Graduate Trainee - Royal Mail
  • Flood Risk Mapping and Data Management - Environment Agency
  • Recruitment Consultant - Search Consultancy
  • Trainee Quantity Surveyor
  • Planning Liaison Officer
  • Planning Officer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Logging Geologist - Chad

This is what some recent graduates from the Universityof Wolverhampton studying Environment and Geography were doing 6 months after finishing their course:

  • Building Materials Technologist
  • Chemical Waste Treatment Officer
  • Environmental Agency Technician
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Land Remediation Specialist
  • MSc in Environmental Technology
  • Pesticide Testing Scientific Officer
  • Pollution Control Officer
  • Research Assistant
  • Solar and Wind Energy Officer
  • Technical Consultant

Further information:
Careers with geography
Going Places with Geography
Options with geography

Sources: Graduate Prospects
University of Southampton