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Geography

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Image of boats in bay by Melissa Butcher (OU)

Geography explores the social and physical processes that shape the world around us over space and time.  Geographical issues are always at the forefront of contemporary social and political life: just think of debates over international migration, reports about the effects of climate change on developing countries, and the spread and impact of the global economic crisis, for instance.

Geography is one of the most stimulating and versatile academic subjects you can study at undergraduate level.  Geography at the OU will answer many of your most searching questions about how our complex world is changing.  You’ll understand how global processes influence places in a variety of ways across the world, how social and environmental change intersect, and how places develop a distinctive character and become meaningful to people.

The Geography Department is rated as one of the leading geography departments in the UK by the Research Assessment Exercise.  OU Geographers are interested in key processes of global change, including globalisation, migration, development, urbanisation, environmental change, geopolitics, financial investment and cultural identities.  

We explore many of the issues that are dealt with in the social sciences, but we pay particular attention to where events and processes happen, and to how they affect people and landscapes in different places.  To do this, we combine theoretical frameworks and empirical evidence to make sense of these processes and change.  For example, the UK government is encouraging large firms to implement carbon reduction initiatives in order to meet national targets, and some of the savings are quite impressive.  However, some of these reductions have only been achieved by shifting manufacturing to other countries, like India and China, where emissions are rising.  By looking at the ‘ecological footprint’ of the production of goods around the world, a geographical analysis can bring important insights to issues like these.  

For more information on the Geography at the OU, please visit the Geography Department's website.

Degrees ( More about Degrees
More about Degrees
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Undergraduate or bachelors degrees are nationally recognised qualifications consisting of academic study designed to help you gain a thorough understanding of a subject.

For a degree in a named subject, such as business studies or humanities, you'll study mainly in your chosen subject, although you may be able to include some modules from other subjects.

With The Open University you could also study an Open degree where you can combine a range of modules from similar or different subjects to suit either your particular career or personal interests.

You can use a degree to:

  • change careers or progress your current career
  • gain an in-depth knowledge and understanding of a subject you are interested in
  • gain professional recognition
  • go onto postgraduate study, such as a diploma or masters degree.
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  • Combined Social Sciences
    Develop a rich synthesis of knowledge and skills drawn from the breadth of social sciences subjects: criminology; economics; geography; politics; psychology; sociology; and social policy.
  • Environmental Studies
    This degree will develop your knowledge and understanding of the social, political, economic, scientific and technological issues at the heart of contemporary environmental problems.
  • International Studies
    This degree will enable you to analyse contemporary international issues; grasp key political, economic, environmental and cultural aspects of the international order; and understand international institutions, politics and policy.
  • Open degree
    The BA/BSc Open Degree is a qualification that gives you a huge choice in terms of subjects and modules that you study to make up your degree.

Diplomas of Higher Education ( More about Diplomas of Higher Education
More about Diplomas of Higher Education
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A Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) is equivalent to two thirds of an honours degree. They are nationally recognised qualifications focusing either on a particular job or profession, or academic study.

DipHEs are designed to increase the professional and technical skills of staff within a profession or extend your knowledge and understanding of a particular subject. A DipHE shows that you are capable of extended study at university level.

You can use a DipHE to:

  • change careers or progress your current career
  • gain technical and professional skills
  • gain a greater knowledge and understanding of a subject you are interested in
  • gain professional recognition
  • achieve a full honours degree through additional study.

The Diploma of Higher Education might be of particular interest to those living and working in Scotland.

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Certificates of Higher Education ( More about Certificates of Higher Education
More about Certificates of Higher Education
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A Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) is a nationally recognised qualification focusing on either a particular job or profession, or academic study. Equivalent to the first year of a full honours degree, they are the most basic level of qualification that can be gained in higher education and show that you are capable of studying successfully at university level.

You can use a CertHE to:

  • gain confidence to study successfully at university level
  • change careers or progress your current career
  • build on your existing experience and gain new skills
  • gain a broad introduction to a subject you are interested in
  • achieve a foundation degree, DipHE or full honours degree through additional study.
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Getting started with an Access module

There are two ways to start a qualification. If you haven’t studied for a long time or need to build your confidence, beginning your studies with an Access module may be the right choice for you.

Choose a qualification to find out more.

Study a module as a standalone course

You can study a single module on its own for personal interest or to improve your career prospects. See the list of all our individual courses in Geography.

Postgraduate options

If you already have a degree, you may want to see postgraduate courses and qualifications in Social Sciences.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.

Studying outside of UK and Europe?

If you live outside of the UK, Republic of Ireland and Europe, please visit our website for international students.

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