BSc (Hons) Physical Geography

With study abroad and placement year options

Attend an open day How to apply
Attend an open day How to apply


Physical Geography offers the chance to understand, investigate and model the physical interactions and processes that influence our environment and landscape. Study Physical Geography at Manchester Met and you’ll examine modern environmental phenomena and the long-term evolution of the landscape. You’ll explore Earth’s dynamic nature – not just looking at how it changes, but also how much it has changed over time – and you’ll investigate human impacts upon it, particularly in terms of past and future climate change.

While you can learn a lot on campus, there’s no substitute for seeing the physical landscape for yourself. As part of our programme, we regularly engage in fieldwork, from day-long trips to residential trips across the UK and overseas. Being in Manchester also means you’ll have plenty to explore on the doorstep, with five national parks within a couple of hours’ drive. You can even spend a year developing your professional skills working on a placement, or broadening your horizons by studying abroad with the four-year route.

This course is also available with a Foundation Year.

Features and Benefits

  • We've been ranked in the top three of the People and Planet University League of most sustainable universities for six years running.
  • Our four-year study abroad route gives you the opportunity to study overseas during your third year in North America, Australia or in Europe.
  • Alternatively, the four-year placement route allows you to spend your third year on an employment placement, enhancing your career opportunities on graduation.
  • The Department has been awarded Green Hero Status for Excellence in Environmental Education and Practice from the Green Organisation.
  • Residential fieldwork opportunities in the UK or overseas are available during each year of the degree.
  • Our practical facilities include a dedicated instrumentation laboratory with an inductively coupled plasma (ICP) spectrometer and ion chromatograph (IC) for environmental measurements, a GIS laboratory, and a field store with the equipment for sampling and assessing a wide range of environments.
“My research examines the impact of climate change on glaciers and rivers. Arctic glaciers are sensitive to climate change because that part of the world is warming at twice the average global rate. Finding out how glaciers have retreated allows us to predict future responses. We map landforms and analyse sediment layers in the laboratory, to find out about glaciers’ age and activity – a bit like reading a bar code.” Dr Kathryn Adamson, Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography

Accreditations, Awards and Endorsements

We've been ranked in the top three of the People and Planet University League of most sustainable universities for six years running.

Career Prospects

Our Physical Geography graduates have found careers in environment quality monitoring, environmental sustainability, the recycling industry, the international environmental charity sector and the energy efficiency industry. Major employers include private sector environmental consultancies, local and regional authorities, environmental charities and trusts, and energy and communications companies. Our dedicated careers and placement tutor runs a series of career talks and activities to enhance your employment prospects.

Learn more about graduate careers

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff points/grades required


A levels ­– BCC-BBC, to include grade C in Geography

Equivalent qualifications will be considered in combination with A level Geography at grade C or above.

UCAS Tariff points from Extended Project (EPQ) will be counted towards overall points score when achieved at grade C or above. Other AS levels (or qualifications equivalent to AS level) are not accepted.

Please contact the University directly if you are unsure whether you meet the minimum entry requirements for the course.

Specific GCSE requirements

GCSE grade C/4 in English Language or Level 2 Functional Skills English


GCSE grade C/4 in Mathematics or Level 2 Functional Skills Mathematics


GCSE grade C/4 in Science or BTEC Level 2 in Applied Science with grade merit

The level 2 requirements may also be met through the level 3 course requirements for the course; please contact the University directly if you require further information.

Non Tariffed Qualifications

Pass Access to HE Diploma in Science with a minimum score of 106 UCAS Tariff points

International Baccalaureate points

26 IB Diploma Points including HL 5 in Geography

IELTS score required for international students

6.0 overall with no individual element below 5.5

There’s further information for international students on our international website if you’re applying with non-UK qualifications.

Delamere Forest field trip

BSc (Hons) Physical Geography student Faye Milner explains what a field trip for Geography students at Manchester Metropolitan University involves.

From our cosmopolitan city centre home, a couple of hours’ journey can take you to four national parks, consisting of a range of uplands, forests, river systems and coastal environments – even a glacial interpretation site! You don’t need to go far to find something fascinating to study.

Course details

Our geography degree programmes are designed and delivered by research-active staff with strong links to research institutions, national organisations and non-governmental bodies in the UK and overseas.

Our Physical Geography programme will help you to develop an understanding of patterns and processes in physical systems, while equipping you with the tools to identify and apply appropriate management techniques to environmental problems. We have shaped this degree around potential career pathways for our graduate Geographers, helping you to develop the geographical skills and knowledge that are highly desirable to employers.

In Year 1 you will explore core aspects of Physical Geography, including the earth surface processes, geosystems science, natural resources, and cartography and remote sensing. Please note that the following list of units is indicative and may be subject to change.

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

Earth Surface Processes

This unit examines processes operating at or near Earths surface and examines how they interact with other Earth systems to produce unique geomorphological systems.

Geosystems Science

In this unit, you will gain an overview of geological and atmospheric systems including Earth history, Earth structure, global tectonics (including hazards), Earth materials (including resources), and weather.

Introducing Geographical Information Science

The unit introduces the concepts and methods of spatial data handling for the creation, analysis, and visualisation of geographical information. Key themes and topics include: Concepts and ideas of spatial thinking, spatial literacy, and spatial reasoning: scale, map reading and navigation, spatial arrangement (landmarks), representation, interpreting and querying spatial information.

Professional Geographer

This unit will develop key academic and professional skills in geography through project-based learning, embedded in a discipline context, and supported by workshops and tutorials.

Natural Resources

This unit reviews key finite and renewable natural resources (with an emphasis on energy), evaluating their nature and distribution, exploitation, and future sustainability.

The Physical Geography of NW England

An introduction to changing ideas and methods used to interpret the diverse elements of the physical landscape of Northwest England. This unit will introduce students to the development of methodological and technical approaches in studying physical processes at the Earth’s surface, using scientific literature and datasets relating to North West England.

Researching Physical Geography

The unit will introduce a range of techniques for physical geography investigations, and encourage their critical implementation during a field course.  The unit will provide opportunities for students to develop skills in a field-based environment including exploring, understanding, applying and evaluating different field data collection and observational techniques.

Your second year will build on the skills you’ve already learned and grow your knowledge in specialised areas. Topics typically include arctic and alpine environments, catchment hydrology and geomorphology, and climate change. Please note that the following list of units is indicative and may be subject to change.

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

Fieldwork and Research Design

This unit provides practical experience in the design and implementation of a field-based (or equivalent) research project and training for the final year dissertation unit. The unit normally requires students to participate in an overseas residential fieldtrip.

Arctic and Alpine Environments

The unit examines key geomorphological processes operating in Arctic and Alpine environments and considers their influence on landform evolution.

Catchment Hydrology and Geomorphology

This unit explores the movement of sediment and water in catchments, from source to sink, and their role in landform evolution.

Climate Change, Impacts and Responses

This unit investigates recent and future climate change, examining impacts and the responses needed to avoid dangerous climate change and adapt to future climate conditions.

Reconstructing Quaternary Environments

This unit examines climate change drivers and evidence for climatic and environmental changes at global, regional and local scales during the Quaternary period.  Students will be introduced to key internal and external drivers of climatic and environmental change, their causes and their effects. 

Option Units

Earth System Science

This unit introduces biogeochemical cycles (the cycling of matter through the Earth system) as fundamental constructs for an integrated study of Earth system science and global change.

Professional Practice

An employability based skills unit with opportunities to work with both internal and external partners. The unit encompasses employability skills development workshops including cover letter and C.V. construction, job search strategies, interview techniques, and placement preparation. 

GIS and the Workplace

This unit provides the fundamental theory and practical techniques of GIS (Geographical Information Systems) used to solve real-world environmental and geographical problems. It will incorporate a range of social and environmental issues, which will typically include: wildfires, air pollution, ecosystem services, retail, tourism, transport, crime, and animal/plant species.

Earth Observation

In this unit, students will study electromagnetic spectrum, energy-matter interactions, satellite platforms and sensors, applications of remote sensing, digital image processing, spectral signatures, image enhancement and image classification.

If you opt for the four-year placement route, Year 3 will be spent on placement. If you opt for the four-year study abroad route, you will spend your third year studying in either Europe, North America or Australasia.

In your final year, you will design and implement a specialist independent research project, giving you the opportunity to put into practice the skills and knowledge you have acquired. Please note that the following list of units is indicative and may be subject to change.

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

Dissertation for Geographers

Building on an initial project proposal developed within the Year 2 Fieldwork and Research Design unit, students will identify and develop a topic of geographical interest and complete a substantial piece of independent research leading to the production of a dissertation. This will involve the collection, analysis, and presentation of primary and/or secondary data.

Option Units

Applied Climatology

This unit investigates sensitivity to weather and climate in natural and socioeconomic contexts, applying the latest scientific tools to evaluate the impacts of climate change.

Applied Environmental Reconstruction

The unit investigates impacts of natural and human-related processes using a variety of methods and techniques applied to past environmental reconstruction.

Environmental and Climate Modelling

This unit explores and critically evaluates key themes related to climate modelling and the science and techniques of environmental modelling. 

Environmental Remote Sensing and GIS

This unit explores advanced Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing approaches to problem-solving in different environmental settings and applications.

Geomorphic Hazards

This unit explores hazards arising from geomorphological processes, their causal factors, human interactions, and techniques and strategies for their assessment, mitigation, and management.

Glacial Systems

This unit examines glaciology in modern and ancient glacial systems, including sediment erosion, transfer and deposition, landform development, glacier dynamics and glacier-climate links.

River and Coastal Management

This unit will explore key scientific and social dimensions of managing river and coastal systems.

Specialist Field Investigation

Students will undertake fieldwork (typically an overseas residential field course) including field-based research design and implementation, and analysis and presentation of field-based data.

The Undergraduate Consultancy

This unit challenges students to deliver high-quality outputs from live projects to address the needs of professional clients.

Volcanoes and Society

This unit considers magma generation, volcanic processes and associated hazards, and monitoring and mitigation strategies for volcanic systems around the world.

Environmental Impact Assessment

This unit provides a practical overview of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process and its requirements under the UK Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations. 

Sustainable Resource and Waste Management

This unit explores the role of consumption, production and waste management in driving the transition from a linear (take-make-use-dispose) to a circular economy.

Assessment weightings and contact hours

10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A 3 year degree qualification typically comprises of 360 credits (120 credits per year). The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be:


Additional information about this course

Students are expected to comply with the Department's codes of conduct and behaviour on field courses, placements and exchanges. Placements and study exchange opportunities are dependent on passing each stage at the first opportunity and being of good standing.

Placement options

All of our geography degrees have been designed to be flexible. You can opt for the four-year placement degree route and spend Year 3 on a professional paid placement with a degree related organisation.

Alternatively, if you opt for the four-year study overseas route, you will spend your third year in Europe, North America or Australia.

There are also residential fieldwork opportunities in the UK and overseas.

Department of Natural Sciences

Our Department of Natural Sciences is a research-rich academic community with a well-established reputation in biology, chemistry, geography and environmental science.

The department works with research institutions, industry partners, national organisations and NGOs worldwide to address the challenges posed by environmental, socio-economic, cultural and political change, as well as health and advanced materials.

More about the department

Taught by experts

Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject.

Meet our expert staff


Foundation Year students

UK, EU and Channel Island students: Full-time Foundation Year fee: £9,250 per year for the foundation year. This tuition fee is agreed subject to UK government policy and parliamentary regulation and may increase each academic year in line with inflation or UK government policy for both new and continuing students.

Non-EU international students: Full-time Foundation Year fee: £16,500 per year. When progressing from the pre-degree foundation year to the linked degree. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study)

UK, EU and Channel Island students

UK, EU and Channel Island students: Full-time fee: £1,850 to £9,250 per year. This tuition fee is agreed subject to UK government policy and parliamentary regulation and may increase each academic year in line with inflation or UK government policy for both new and continuing students.

UK, EU and Channel Island students: Part-time fee: £2312.50 per 30 credits studied per year. This tuition fee is agreed subject to UK government policy and parliamentary regulation and may increase each academic year in line with inflation or UK government policy for both new and continuing students.

Non-EU international students

Non-EU international students: Full-time fee: £1,850 to £16,500 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU international students: Part-time fee: £4125 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A degree typically comprises 360 credits, a DipHE 240 credits, a CertHE 120 credits, and an integrated Masters 480 credits. The tuition fee for the placement year for those courses that offer this option is £1,850, subject to inflationary increases based on government policy and providing you progress through the course in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study). The tuition fee for the study year abroad for those courses that offer this option is £1,385, subject to inflationary increases based on government policy and providing you progress through the course in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Part-time students may take a maximum of 90 credits each academic year.

Additional costs

Specialist Costs


Students often choose to buy a laptop for their degree (costing approximately £300 to £400) and a printer (costing £50 to £100 including print consumables, plus £20 to £40 for print consumables in every subsequent year). However, there are numerous drop-in computer facilities across campus and laptops for loan in the library. Lab coats are provided free of charge in the first year of entry and are expected to last for the duration of the course. Students will have to purchase replacements for lost or damaged PPE. Estimated cost of text books is £70 in the first year and £40 in the subsequent years.

Placement Costs


1) Students go on residential field trips for core units throughout the degree course. These are subsidised but students can expect to pay a contribution to costs of £60 for a UK-based residential field course at Level 4 and a maximum of £300 for an overseas residential field course at Level 5 (currently Spain, Malta, Tenerife, Berlin). For all field courses, there are non-residential zero-cost to student alternatives for any student who chooses not to go. 2) Students opting to study abroad in third year (SENAA). If you are studying at one of our partner universities on an approved exchange programme, you will continue to pay tuition fees to Manchester Metropolitan University and you will not pay any tuition fees to your partner university. Some partner universities may charge additional fees for mandatory administrative and recreational services, non-mandatory language classes, courses including fieldwork or non-mandatory project costs. If this is relevant to you, the partner university will inform you of any additional costs during the application process. During your study exchange abroad, you will need to budget for the general cost of living as well as additional costs for visas, travel, medical insurance and vaccinations (depending on your destination). Applicants should visit the MMUi web pages for more details including sources of travel funding. 3) Students choosing to undertake a placement (sandwich) in third year. The sandwich year involves full-time work experience work placement. This lasts for a minimum of 36 weeks and normally attracts a salary/weekly wage but this is not guaranteed. Placements are competitive and based on successful interviews with the placement provider. Students will have to pay travel and accommodation costs (including for interview) plus personal insurance. 4) Students undertaking short placements as part of vocational optional units. Students should expect to pay travel expenses to placements.

Professional Costs


Students may wish to become student members of relevant professional bodies but this is not normally a requirement. Membership of the IES is free. Membership of CIEEM is £10 for students on accredited degrees and £20 for students on non-accredited degrees.

Other Costs


Manchester Met now provides free travel insurance for students when they travel in connection with their programme of study, for example, placements, field trips, exchanges etc. However, students should also take out personal insurance cover for belongings as items such as mobile phones are not covered by this policy. Our courses are field-based so students would be expected to dress appropriately (i.e. purchase waterproof coats and trousers, sturdy footwear/walking boots). Students will be expected to print out certain assessments (such as posters). Travel expenses associated with independent data collection for final year dissertations are not reimbursed by the Department. Students will be advised to undertake low-cost local fieldwork at the design and planning stages of a project if necessary.


Find out more about financing your studies and whether you may qualify for one of our bursaries and scholarships.

Money Matters

Want to know more?

How to apply

You can apply for this course through UCAS.

Apply now

UCAS code(s)

F840 - BSc (Hons) Physical Geography

F847 - BSc (Hons) Physical Geography with Study Abroad

F841 - BSc (Hons) Physical Geography with Placement Year

F842 - BSc (Hons) Physical Geography with Foundation year

Remember to use the correct institution code for Manchester Metropolitan University on your application: our institution code is M40

You can review our current Terms and Conditions before you make your application. If you are successful with your application, we will send you up to date information alongside your offer letter.


Programme Review
Our programmes undergo an annual review and major review (normally at 6 year intervals) to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. For further information on when we may make changes to our programmes, please see the changes section of our Terms and Conditions.

Important Notice
This online prospectus provides an overview of our programmes of study and the University. We regularly update our online prospectus so that our published course information is accurate. Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us to access the most up to date information for your chosen course of study.

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