Geography is one of the most exciting subjects to study at university. We live in an interdependent world caught up in chains of events which span the globe. The Cambridge geography course is one of the most diverse undergraduate degrees; it emphasises the interactions between the human and physical sides of the discipline and consequently requires both breadth of ability and flexibility of approach.
The Cambridge Geography Tripos is designed to introduce you to all areas of the subject in the first year. You take three papers in Human Geography, Physical Geography, and Geographical Skills and Methods. In the second year you begin to specialise in those topics that you find of particular interest. You take a core paper in geographical ideas and themes relating to global change, as well as three papers chosen from six options. In the third year you can choose any four papers from a wide range of titles.
Fieldwork is an important part of Geography, and the course includes day trips, and a week’s field class in the Easter or summer vacation of your second year. You are also expected to undertake independent fieldwork for your final-year dissertation, and many students travel overseas.
There is no single combination of subjects that is especially good for students wishing to study Geography; the teaching programme for Geography is broad enough to encompass those whose primary interests are in the humanities, the social sciences, the natural or the environmental sciences, or any combination of these.
It isn’t even essential to have studied Geography at A level (although in practice nearly all our students have done so). If you are particularly interested in contemporary human geography or historical geography, then Economics, English Literature, History, and Sociology are helpful.
If you are interested in physical geography, then Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Mathematics and Physics are useful supporting subjects. However, there is no distinction between ‘human’ and ‘physical’ geographers in terms of their GCE A level subjects. Wherever your interests lie, knowledge of a foreign language will help you understand developments in this international discipline, and to gain a greater insight into regional geographies.
See also Entrance requirements for additional advice about general requirements for entry, qualifications and offers.
What we are looking for:
Geography comprises an exciting, wide-ranging and dynamic discipline which unites environmental, physical and social sciences. Geography at Cambridge involves being willing and able to take on board new ideas, innovative methods, and pressing social issues.
Whether students express a preference for Physical or Human Geography or have no marked preference, we look for an interest in geographical issues broadly defined.
An interest in contemporary issues gained from newspapers and journals (e.g. Geographical Magazine, New Scientist, The Economist) is also a good background for studying Geography.
Candidates who are invited for interviews will be asked in advance to submit two marked essays or other written work. This should be in a related discipline which the candidate is studying/ has studied. Candidates will be asked to sit an essay based test before interview. At interview, engagement with and enthusiasm for the subject will be explored by the course Director of Studies and Admissions Tutor.