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What is the Geography course at Cambridge like?

Geography, with its interest in the earth, environments, people and place, and with its variety of methodological approaches, is distinctive from most natural or social science courses. Geographers are problem-solvers, who are able to balance and interrogate qualitative and quantitative data, and who view the world in all its connectivity. Studying geography at Cambridge will take you from the fenlands of East Anglia, through active volcanic landscapes, into global climate futures – and more. All of these explored through the lenses of social, cultural and historical geographies, as much as through the geology, biology and physics underpinning the processes.

The discipline of Geography reflects a breadth, diversity, and concern for ‘real-world’ issues that cannot be narrowed down into a set of exclusively human or physical questions. Students at Part IA are therefore introduced to the wide range of topics, philosophies, methodologies, and skills that characterise modern Geography, before being invited at IB to choose their specialisms or, as is common, to choose to study papers that straddle, or sample, both the scientific and social science topics on offer. Interdisciplinarity is one of the subject’s greatest strengths and a key skill that Cambridge geographers take with them for life.

At Part IB and Part II students choose from papers such as volcanology, glaciology, biogeography, environmental change and earth observation on the scientific side, as well as political ecologies, urban geographies, development, geographies of the Arctic, demography, and geographies of knowledge. These diverse papers all contribute to the development of geographical theories and methods, however, and they are held together through core papers in geographical thought and techniques. Teaching takes place within lectures, lab classes, field trips and, distinctively, small-group ‘supervisions’, which offer unique opportunities for discussion of ideas and details. It is, we think, a rewarding and exciting programme, representative of the importance and substance of the modern discipline of Geography.

The Department of Geography in Cambridge is a welcoming and inclusive environment and our undergraduates, postgraduates and lecturers explore the discipline together through their teaching and research. If you are thinking about applying to study Geography at Cambridge and think that the opportunities and distinctiveness of the course and Department are right for you, then go for it!

Why study Geography at Corpus?

Geography has always been an important subject at Corpus and whilst the intake of geographers is relatively small compared to some colleges, the discipline and the geography community in the college continues to thrive. Geographers at Corpus benefit from working in a relatively independent and interdisciplinary environment, where mixing with students studying other courses is common. The Department of Geography will act as a focus for your intellectual development, as it does for all geography students, and there you will mix with geography students and teachers from other colleges, in addition to the contacts you will make at Corpus. A typical offer for Geography will be A*AA (IB 41-42), and there are no required A-Levels/Higher Levels/Advanced Highers.

As your Director of Studies, I will make sure that you have access to the diverse expertise and opportunities offered by the Department and the college, including both academic and related social events. As Director of Studies in Geography at Corpus, my role is to ensure your time as a Cambridge Geographer is a rewarding and enjoyable experience. I make arrangements for supervisions, facilitate your relations with the department, and generally act as your first port of call in terms of academic questions.

My research field is Quaternary Geography and I study the environmental and ancient societal responses to past climate change and volcanic eruptions, primarily in Europe and Africa. I teach across all three years of the Geographical Tripos, therefore, our paths will also cross within the Department of Geography - perhaps also in the laboratory or in the field. Whatever area of Geography excites you, I hope that you will consider applying to read Geography at Corpus and I very much look forward to meeting you. If you need further information about the course or the College, please feel free to contact me.

-Prof Christine Lane Director of Studies in Geography