Clare College Cambridge

Studying Geography at Clare


Geography at Cambridge has one of the largest annual single-honours intakes in the country and accepts about one hundred students annually to read the three-year course.

As with nearly all subjects in Cambridge, the first year of the Geography course is broadly-based and compulsory. In the second year some specialisation is possible, whilst in the third and final year you are required to select four courses from about three times that number and submit a dissertation on a geographical subject of your own choice. Many students carry out their dissertation research abroad. Courses during the first year introduce a broad range of ideas within both human and physical geography, including on Globalisation, Cultural Geography, Development, Urban Geography, Economics, Geopolitics, Volcanoes, The Cryosphere, Oceans and Coasts, The Atmosphere, Environmental Change during the Quaternary, Life on Earth, and Current Issues in Human and Physical Geography. In the second year students choose three courses from a choice of six, plus compulsory diverse courses on 'Living with Global Change'. Students will also take compulsory research methods and data analysis skills training. Fieldwork fot the dissertation is undertaken during the summer before the final year. 

Fuller details of the individual courses are available on the internet (, in the Cambridge University Guide to Courses, and in the booklet available from the Department of Geography, Downing Place, Cambridge, CB2 3EN.

A typical formal workload for a student reading Geography consists of around five lectures and two laboratory or practical classes per week, together with three supervisions a fortnight. For many supervisions, an essay requiring a significant amount of background reading has to be prepared. Several one-day field courses form an essential part of the course in the first year, and in the second year there is a compulsory one-week residential field course, with the current choice being between Copenhagen, the Swiss Alps, Mallorca, Morocco, or Tenerife. Expeditions are also undertaken by geography students, not as part of the formal course, but organised by the students themselves, usually under the auspices of the Explorers and Travellers Club. Some departmental and college funds are available to assist with the cost of field courses and expeditions.

The Cambridge Geography Department has an excellent reputation and good facilities. After graduation, many students undertake further study in Cambridge or at other universities, or move straight into a wide range of occupations.