What can I do with a degree in Geography?
Geography is an exciting and distinctive discipline at the interface between Science and Arts. It also has links to Law, Sociology, Engineering, Computer Science and Health Sciences. Its focus is on finding innovative solutions to problems faced by global society, including climate change, poverty, sustainability, health and inequality.
We aim to provide courses and learning that will enable you to make a difference in your chosen career path after university. The relationships between people and their environments - and the sustainability of these interactions - is a key theme. For example, geographers can study the physical factors and the human responses to the challenges created by climate change.
Through their Geography degree, graduates gain a valuable set of transferable skills such as:
- Wide-ranging analytical skills, including cultural, statistical and geospatial analysis
- Ability to identify positive and negative aspects of the interaction between human activities and the environment
- Practical application of sustainability concepts
- Ability to design and carry out research projects
- Practical methods for collection of field data
- Teamwork and independent thinking
- A holistic and integrated worldview
- High level of ability to communicate orally and in writing
- Enhanced ability to synthesise different viewpoints and types of information.
Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available in this major, through internships, community-based learning, field courses and trips. These utilise UC field stations at Cass, Harihari and Westport. Such experiences deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge and employability.
Recent graduates have found careers all over Aotearoa New Zealand and the world, from Auckland to Papua New Guinea, Antarctica to California. Many have found careers in:
- Public service
- Private companies dealing with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS)
- The Police
- Local authorities and town planning
- Environmental science and conservation
- Data science
- Foreign affairs and development agencies
- Research and policy
- People-focused positions, like the union movement, teaching and human resources.
In-demand jobs and sectors
The Resource Management Act has created a lively market for geographers in consultancy, and in regional and local government. Those who gain technical expertise in areas such as GIS and remote sensing are in demand from both the public and private sectors.
Geography graduates have so many diverse career options due to their focus on both the human and physical environment.
Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.
What job titles do Geography graduates have?
- Geotechnical engineer
- Geographical information systems (GIS) analyst / technician / operator / consultant
- Applications specialist
- Remote sensing scientist / analyst
- Geospatial analyst
- Hydrologeologist, hydrological analyst
- Environmental scientist
- Resource management planner, resource officer
- Environmental and quality coordinator
- Consents planner
- Coastal / marine scientist
- Climate consultant
- Sustainable advisor
- Air quality scientist
Planning and risk management
- Urban/ transport planner
- Development planner
- Natural hazards researcher / analyst
- Project manager
- Policy advisor
- Recovery preparedness coordinator
- QA analyst
- NGO / aid agency practitioner
- Diversity officer / human rights advocate
- Community development officer
- Geohealth analyst
- Recruitment advisor
- Public relations executive
- Qualitative research executive
- Social researcher
- Research assistant
- Research and development manager
- Laboratory supervisor
- Statistical analyst
- Data collector / technician
- Database administrator
- University lecturer
- School teacher
- Operations manager
- Environmental manager
Can I use my skills to work for myself?
Entrepreneurship and innovation are an increasing part of the working landscape. Students and graduates can:
- Develop an idea to form their own business
- Get involved in a start-up
- Offer their services as a consultant
Get started with Entrepreneurship here
As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network.
- New Zealand Geographical Society
- Population Association of New Zealand
- New Zealand Cartographic Society
- New Zealand Coastal Society
- New Zealand Association of Resource Management
- New Zealand Hydrological Society
- New Zealand Ecological Society
- New Zealand Planning Institute
Social media networks can keep you up-to-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.
Learn from our students' experiences
'I love making new friends, the community, the interhall competitions, and hall activities...'
'It is a privilege for me to mix with other students in the department who have such a diverse range of disciplines...'
'The chance to practically apply what I’m learning in my own neighbourhood makes UC invaluable...'
'I like having the ability to get out and explore in the field one day and be involved in community projects the next...'
'I want to have a career that gives me the opportunity to apply my scientific knowledge of the environment in the legal sphere...'
'Canterbury’s Gateway Antarctic research centre was a great pull for me to study at UC...'
'I knew that I wanted to make a difference through mitigating modern environmental problems...'
'I have made some awesome lifelong friends and had the chance to be taught by world leaders...'
'Finding a way that the environment, society and economy can all be prosperous really motivates me...'
'The courses are interesting, the lecturers are great and always willing to help, and the UCSA organises wicked events...'
'I love that the courses focus on local, national and international examples, and go in-depth...'
For more information
see the Geography subject page