Geography

Geography at Fitzwilliam College has a long and thriving tradition, making it one of best places in the world to study the subject. Geography is important to the College in terms of its degree results, the number of Fellows in the subject, the size of our typical admission and in terms of the successful history of the subject in the College. 

Number of students

We typically admit ten or twelve undergraduates per year.


The Course

First-year introduces students to key themes and issues relating to human and physical Geography, such as globalisation, sustainability, glacial and coastal processes.

In the second and third years, students begin to specialise in either human or physical geography, although many prefer to keep a balance between the two.

The lists below give examples of second year papers that may be offered.

Human geography

  • Austerity and Affluence
  • Development Theories, Policies and Practices
  • Citizenship, Cities and Civil Society

Physical and environmental geography

  • Glacial Processes
  • Biogeography
  • Environmental Systems and Processes: Remote Sensing

In your second year you also undertake project work involving a range of field, laboratory and computer skills and techniques.

The list below provides examples of third year papers that may be offered:

  • The Geographies of Global Urbanism
  • Political Ecology in the Global South
  • Geographies of Discipline and Social Regulation
  • Biosedimentary Coastal Systems
  • Biogeography
  • Glaciology
  • The Political Geography of Postcolonialism
  • Geographies of the Arctic
  • Changing Cultures of Risk
  • Volcanology
  • Political Appetites: Geographies of Food and Power

In your third year you also write a dissertation of 10,000 words on a topic of your choice, which you start work on during the summer vacation between your second and third years.

For further information about studying Geography at the University of Cambridge see the Department of Geography website.


The benefits of Geography at Fitzwilliam College

Geography students represent a strong community at Fitzwilliam. In recent years, a large number of postgraduate geographers have also come to Fitzwilliam. All Geographers, whether undergraduate, postgraduate or Fellow, are proud to belong to the Fitzwilliam Geographical Society. No first year Geographer feels at sea on arrival, with a ready-made family of peers and associates with whom to socialise and enjoy areas of mutual interest. The Geography Society meets socially very regularly for meals, drinks, field trips and even ten-pin bowling! This engenders a strong sense of community among the students, with friendships and support developing over the three year groups. The mutual support extends to a range of academic activities as well. Final year students, for instance, give talks on their dissertation projects, and their peers are able to provide feedback, discussion and support. This means that first year and second year students benefit from the experience of the third years when designing their own research projects.

The College has an extensive library collection in Geography, to complement that available in the University’s Department of Geography and the Scott Polar Research Institute. This contains one of the best College collections in Environmental Science, Development Geography, Political Geography and Economic Geography. The College, through its scholarships and bursaries, is able to provide significant financial assistance for geographers who wish to carry out fieldwork and to travel in the United Kingdom and abroad, particularly in the vacation between the second and third years. There is a dedicated Environmental Studies Fund for travel linked to research on environment-related topics. Geographers at Fitzwilliam are particularly encouraged to choose overseas topics for their Part II dissertations and spend much of the long vacation at the end of their second year in faraway places. In recent years, the Part II students have conducted research in Kenya, Sweden, Brazil, USA, Japan, Mexico and the UK.


The Admissions Process

Applicants are required to sit the Geography admissions written assessment, prior to being invited to interview.  More information can be found on the University website.

Candidates invited to interview, can normally expect two face-to-face interviews lasting between 20-30 minutes and an at-interview assessment.


Entry Requirements

Our standard conditional offer for this subject is usually A*AA at A-level or 40-42 points overall and 7, 7, 6 at Higher Level in IB. We may modify offers to take account of individual circumstances. For other qualifications, please consult the Admissions Office.


Geography Conference

The College organises an annual Progress in Geography Conference for sixth form students, find out more here.


Director of Studies

Years 1 & 2

Professor Bhaskar Vira is a Fellow and Director of Studies in Geography, and Professor of Political Economy, Department of Geography. His research interests span the fields of political economy, development studies and environmental studies, with a regional focus on South Asia. He is particularly interested in state-society interactions over resource use, at a variety of scales. Watch a short video of Professor Vira talking about the political economy of development. He teaches courses on environmental economics, development studies, and local natural resource management at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Year 3

Dr Richard Powell is a Fellow and Director of Studies in Geography, and University Lecturer in the Human Geography of the Polar Regions. His research interests encompass historical and cultural geographies, the geopolitics of territory and resources, geographies of science, and the histories of the social and natural sciences. He teaches courses on history of geography, fieldwork and the human geographies of the Arctic at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.