Geography is an exciting and distinctive discipline at the interface between Science and Arts. Its focus is on putting various types of knowledge together to find innovative solutions to problems faced by society such as 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.
Studying Geography will allow you to take an informed and analytical view of our changing world, and of your place in it. The relationship between people and their environment is a key geographical theme, as is the way in which this relationship can be made more sustainable for the future.
This puts Geography at the core of many important current debates. For example, geographers are able to examine the issue of climate change holistically by looking at both the physical factors that affect the problem and also the human responses to the challenges created.
- UC is rated in the top 150 universities in the world for Geography (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2019).
- The undergraduate programme is structured around four curriculum pathways: physical geography, human geography, geographic information systems (GIS), and resource and environmental management.
- Learning through community engagement occurs in a number of courses within Geography. It is a key feature of GEOG 110 Human Geography: People, Process, Place; and of GEOG 309 Research for Resilient Environments and Communities, which involves students working with local communities to address important real-world issues.
Resources and fieldwork
Te Tari Mātai Matawhenua | Department of Geography is committed to close contact between students and our staff. 100-level students have their own laboratory, and the Department's learning centre and computer labs are available to students for quiet study, group work, and research.
Fieldwork in various places is an integral part of many courses. The Department operates climate stations in Kā Tiritiri-o-te-moana Southern Alps and elsewhere in Te Waipounamu South Island, and utilises the University's field stations at Cass and Kawatiri Westport.
The Department hosts both the Te Tai Whenua o te Hauora | GeoHealth Laboratory and the University Centre for Atmospheric Research. It also has close links with Gateway Antarctica, with staff and graduate students often making summer visits to Scott Base in Antarctica.
Entry into Geography is open to all students who are eligible to enter an Aotearoa New Zealand university. The essential background is a lively and enquiring interest in change in today's world.
Some experience of geography in Year 12 and Year 13 will help, but is not strictly necessary. Depending on how students wish to develop their geographical interests, a background in science or experience of humanities or social science subjects (eg, languages, history, digital technologies) can be useful.
The two courses are interrelated, with GEOG 106 based on an integrated approach to understanding the interaction of physical and human processes, and GEOG 110 focused more on natural and human environments.
Each course has three hours of lectures a week. There are also regular two-hour lab classes for exploring the issues raised in lectures in more detail. These labs are an opportunity to get to know your classmates better, as much of the work is group-based, as well as to gain some experience of practical investigation in Geography.
200-level and beyond
There is a range of courses at 200 and 300-level. You can specialise within or combine courses from the four curriculum pathways (as many students do):
- physical geography
- human geography
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and
- resource and environmental management.
There are also options to undertake internships and research as part of your degree. GEOG 309 Research for Resilient Environments and Communities is designed to reinforce study in all of these pathways.
Recent graduates have found work all over Aotearoa New Zealand and the world, from Tāmaki-makaurau Auckland to Melbourne, California to Antarctica. Many have found careers in the public service, the tourism industry, private companies dealing with geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS), the police, local authorities, and in education.
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 also in demand from both the public and private sectors. In addition, research and policy positions in central, regional, and local government are popular.
Some graduates find work overseas for Manatū Aorere | Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, development agencies, and the United Nations, or in positions that are particularly people-focused, like the union movement, teaching, or personnel, where communication skills are critical.
Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Geography.
See the Department's website for up-to-date location details.
College of Science | Te Rāngai Pūtaiao
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
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