Undergraduate Admissions FAQs
Are there opportunities for overseas trips?
In addition to our compulsory residential UK fieldtrips in Level 2, students can opt to take Level 3 modules that involve residential trips abroad. In 2015 / 2016 we are running optional modules which include overseas fieldtrips to Cape Town, Berlin, Israel, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland.
Can I take a gap year between school and university?
Yes, it is possible to make a deferred entry through UCAS. We limit the number of offers made for deferred entry so it is not easier or more difficult to gain a place this way.
Can I transfer between degree courses or particular modules?
To ensure the quality of student experience, we have a target quota for each of our degree courses and winning places on these degree courses is very competitive. A small number of transfers may be permitted between BA and BSc degrees at the end of Level 1, but this depends on places and can not be guaranteed. If you wish to change one or more modules that you are studying within or across departments, you must seek advice from the department(s) concerned at the earliest opportunity (and certainly during the first three weeks of Term 1). If you are permitted to change modules or degree programme, it is your responsibility to catch up the work which you have missed.
Can I visit the department?
We encourage students to visit on the University Pre-Application Open Days which feature talks by the Admissions Tutors and a pre-arranged tour (bookable separately) and which are not available for individual visits. Although we are open to visitors on weekdays we are unable to create the same visitor experience.
If we make you an offer, you will be invited to a Post-Offer Visit Day, in March, which includes the option to stay in a college. International applicants with offers, please contact email@example.com to discuss alternative arrangements if attendance on the Post-Offer Visit Day is not possible.
Can you recommend some preparatory reading before I begin my degree?
We refrain from recommending any specific preparatory reading for our degree courses before students arrive, irrespective of whether they have yet to apply or hold conditional or unconditional offers.
This is partly because the degree courses are broken down into discrete modules and we do not know exactly which modules students will be taking.
We would prefer that students take advantage of the break from academic work, and arrive fresh and raring to go. Also, ahead of their arrival in Durham, all new students are provided with some Pre-Arrival Tasks to be completed in preparation for activities in Induction Week.
Do I need Geography A-Level?
It is expected that most applicants will have Geography A Level (or equivalent). However, in certain circumstances an applicant’s combination of A Levels may be suitable for admission. The main ingredient we are looking for is enthusiasm and excitement about the discipline and this should be reflected in your Personal Statement.
How important is it to undertake extra-curricular activities (e.g. the Duke of Edinburgh Award)?
This is a rather tricky question to answer. We can certainly state that extra-curricular activities, such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award, are not essential qualifications and, indeed, it would never be a formal part of an offer. Offers are only ever framed in terms of academic qualifications and we would be wary of advising students to take part in extra-curricular activities if they might jeopardise their chances of academic success. That said, we do encourage students to draw attention to extra-curricular activities and how those activities have helped develop their personal attributes and/or suitability for their chosen degree subject. Thus, rather than offering prescriptive advice about what students should study or get involved in, we feel it is important that the applicant takes responsibility for their choice of subjects/activities and explains the reasons why in their Personal Statement. Also note that we wish to encourage diversity and recognize that a broad range of subjects/activities are potentially suitable for preparing a student to study Geography at University.
How soon will an offer be made?
We receive a very large number of applications each year and sometimes we have to slow down the flow of early applications in order to give fair consideration to later applicants. Please do not panic if it takes time to hear from us.
How will my college be allocated?
If a department makes you an offer then your application is automatically considered for your preferred college. All applications for college membership are processed at the same time ensuring that all applications have equal consideration, however applicants should be aware that some colleges regularly receive more preference requests than they can accommodate. Further information on college allocation is available here: https://www.dur.ac.uk/experience/colleges/ug/preference/
Is a science subject required for the BSc degree?
A science subject is required, but please note that although we regard Geography as a science, we strongly recommend that you have studied another science subject. Indeed, science subjects other than Geography will strengthen your application but there is no expectation that applicants for this degree will necessarily have studied science subjects. In such cases, we would welcome students to elaborate in their Personal Statement their motivation for studying physical geography.
Should I apply with predicted grades that are less than the typical offer?
We always encourage applicants in this position to apply.
First, we take into consideration a range of academic and non-academic achievements (and indicators of potential) and do not make decisions based only on academic qualifications, although they are an important factor, of course.
Second, we do occasionally make offers that are less than A*AA / AAA.
Third, on very rare occasions, we do find ourselves in a position where we are able to accept 'near miss' applicants who have just failed to meet their offer.
What are the career opportunities for geography graduates?
Geography graduates have good records of employability compared to other disciplines and Durham graduates have good records compared to many other institutions. The prospect for Durham Geography graduates is therefore excellent. Geography is popular with employers because of the literacy, numeracy and graphicacy skills interwoven within a degree (in other words most geography graduates can summarise data, write a concise report, present data clearly and efficiently and operate a computer!). In addition to a number of specific vocational jobs, a geography degree provides a springboard into diverse areas such as administration, management, planning, finance and banking, marketing, research and education. Many students go onto further training for planning or legal professions or into higher degrees.
What are the entry requirements?
The majority of our applicants will receive an offer based on three A-level subjects (or equivalent) and our typical offer for the BA / MArts is A*AA (or IB at 38 with 666 in Higher Subjects) and for the BSc / MSci is AAA (or IB at 37 with 666 in Higher Subjectd.
Neither offer includes General Studies or Critical Thinking.
What is the difference between BA & BSc Geography?
There are differences between the BA and BSc degree programmes. The descriptions and differences between the courses can be viewed on the Degree Programmes page but note that we offer a range of module choices in each year and some modules are specifically designed to cover aspects of both Human and Physical Geography, enabling some students to choose a more diverse Geography curriculum.
We have a target quota for each of these degree courses, which are treated separately. This means that you must carefully consider your choice of the BA or BSc route at the application stage because in all recent years the courses have recruited to quota.
Which college should I apply for?
There are a wide variety of Colleges from which to select a preference. Please visit: https://www.dur.ac.uk/experience/colleges/ for a full list. Some are located in the area around the cathedral and some on the hillside south of the river. All are within easy walking distance of the Department. Each College has its own social, musical and sporting activities. Ask any Durham student for advice and they are bound to tell you that their college is the best. Any of the colleges will provide a good base for studying Geography at Durham. Your choice might be made from the prospectus, college web sites, on the recommendation of a former student or teacher or by looking around the university. If you can’t decide you can make an open application.
Which combination of subjects should I choose at A-level (or equivalent)?
We often get enquiries from prospective applicants asking which particular subjects might enhance their application or might be better suited to our degree programmes. In general, we are very reluctant to advise students on which A-level subjects to choose and prefer to keep an open mind. However, students applying for the B.Sc. Programme are strongly advised to have another science subject at A Level or equivalent. We feel it is very important for students to take responsibility for their choices and be able to justify them in their Personal Statement. Indeed, it is important that your Personal Statement elaborates on why you selected your chosen subjects and how they relate to your choice of degree programme and, potentially, your career aspirations and extra-curricular activities.
Note that you should also choose your degree course carefully because B.A. Geography and B.Sc. Geography are different programmes in terms of the science versus social science focus. Some A-level subjects are obviously more suited to one of these degree programmes but we realise that there is always a balance between what may or may not be desirable and what might offer the best chance of an A-grade.
Will I need to attend an interview?
We would only hold interviews in exceptional circumstances, see: https://www.dur.ac.uk/study/ug/apply/interviews/
Will it help my chances if I study four subjects at A-level?
We do not have any preference between those who have studied 3 or 4 A-levels. In fact, we are very reluctant to advise students on which and/or how many A-level subjects to choose and feel it is important that the student takes responsibility for their choice of subjects and explain the reasons why in their Personal Statement. For example, we would not necessarily advise a student to give up a particular subject if this is an extra-curricular activity in which they clearly excel (Music, Art, Drama, or PE, for example). We also recognise that it is sometimes a fine balance between selecting subjects that are potentially (or perceived to be) more desirable and those subjects in which an 'A' grade is most likely. Finally, we do not have any firm expectation or desire for our undergraduate students to have all studied the same types of subject at A-level. In contrast, we wish to encourage diversity and recognise that a broad range of subjects are potentially suitable for preparing a student to study Geography at University. The subjects we do not accept are General Studies and Critical Thinking.
Will my offer include any A* grades?
Our typical offer for the BA / MArts is A*AA but we do not require that the A* be awarded in Geography.
Our typical offer for the BSc / MSci is AAA. Also note that the subjects we will not use as part of our offer are General Studies and Critical Thinking.
Telephone: +44 (0)191 334 1000, Ask us: www.dur.ac.uk/study/askus