For further information on the content of the Earth Science and Geography degree programmes, please consult the following documents - FAQ Earth Science 2018 and FAQ Geography 2018.  You can also find details of the course at Outline Earth Science and Outline Geography.

Why study Geography or Earth Science at the University of Glasgow?

Here you will find links to what our students have said about their courses and their fieldwork  (an important and very popular part of our degrees).

You will also find some information about student work loads, studying abroad, summer placements, and NSS scores.

Finally there are some pointers as to why Glasgow might be the ideal university for you.  Having a successful and enjoyable experience as a university student is all about choosing the right courses, the right school, the right university, the right city and the right country:-

You can also read or download Lonely Planet's guide to studying in Glasgow - "Study Glasgow".

National Student Survey (NSS)

The National Student Survey (NSS) is a survey targeted mainly at final year undergraduates and an opportunity for them to provide direct independent feedback on their academic experience. The results are intended to help future students to choose courses that best suit their needs and interests. The results of the latest survey are on the "Unistats" website.   Check it out for yourself by using the comparison feature on Unistats.

Unistats lets you search, review and compare official information about universities and colleges in the UK, and the subjects they offer. It includes results from more than 220,000 students who give their views about the quality of their higher education experience.

We in GES have achieved outstanding results in NSS surveys over the years, but we recommend that you use Unistats to probe deeper into the results than just the overall satisfaction of students.  There are many different questions asked in the survey, and you can easily compare the results of these for different universities in Unistats.  

Study abroad

ERASMUS and JYA are schemes by which students may spend either their second or third year at selected universities in Europe or in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Latin America, New Zealand, Singapore, or the United States. The European Commission sponsors the Erasmus scheme which involves 250 universities, although not all will have comparable geography and earth science courses. The courses taken overseas must be approved by Glasgow and the grades that you obtain there count towards your Glasgow degree. In order to be eligible for such schemes, students must obtain good grades at Glasgow and reach a satisfactory level of language competence where instruction is conducted in a foreign language; however, admittance depends on the university you wish to study in. There are free lunchtimes courses available in the Language Centre in a range of European languages open to all students to boost oral and written skills; its library holds tapes in many more.

Read what some of our students have written about their experiences on exchanges in other Universities:-

  • Gail - formerly a Geography undergraduate,  who spent a year of her degree on a JYA exchange in Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • Jennifer -  a recent Earth Science graduate describing her experiences when spending a year of her degree in New Zealand.
  • Richard - a Geography undergraduate who spent a year of his degree on a JYA exchange in Santa Barbara, California  

Also read about the experiences of one of our Australian exchange student who spent a semester at Glasgow:-

  • Cassie - an Earth Science undergraduate from the University of Queensland,  who spent the first semester of 2008-2009 studying in the University of Glasgow.

The schemes are inter-university reciprocal arrangements, which ensure standards and the proposed range of courses are compatible. The schemes cover tuition fees but students must pay for their living expenses. Living expenses may vary considerably between participating universities even in the same country.

In recent years, GES students have studied abroad in  Canada, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Spain, France, and Iceland.  hange students from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain, and the USA.  Read about the experiences of one of these students 

Why are GES degrees the right choice for you?

Among the many reasons are:-

  • The spectacular and accessible landscapes of western Scotland contain some of the best examples of the processes acting to shape landforms from glacially modified mountains to rivers and coasts, providing a unique natural laboratory for studying physical geography at the University of Glasgow;
  • Glasgow is situated close to many world class geological locations such as the outstanding Geology of the Scottish Highlands to superb rock exposures on the west coast and ancient volcanoes of the Highlands.
  • Major components of all our degrees are undergraduate laboratory projects/dissertations, which frequently lead to publications and provide invaluable training and expertise for careers.
  • Outstanding analytical facilities (both in the School and the nearby SUERC) that are used by students for laboratory projects.
  • Huge range of degrees (>40 - list of GES degrees).
  • Exceptionally flexibility in degree and course choice (finalise your degree choice, and content, only after 2 years study).
  • Situated in Scotland's largest city which has an extensive industrial history yet is close to rural areas.
  • Excellent employment prospects, both in terms of graduate careers and undergraduate part-time work opportunities in Scotland's largest city.

Why study in Scotland?

  • 8,000 year history
  • Vibrant cosmopolitan cities
  • Least crowded region of Europe
  • World-famous ‘Highlands and Islands’
  • Voted UK and European ‘Region of the Future'
  • Outstanding outdoor and indoor recreation opportunities
  • Rich historical, cultural, architectural, and environmental heritage

'Visit' Scotland at

Image of the Highlands of Scotland (near Ballachulish in the Highlands).  Image from Gordon Curry:-

Why choose the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences?

  • Friendly staff and students
  • Excellent wide career prospects
  • Exceptionally high student satisfaction
  • Extremely flexible course and degree choice
  • International perspective in teaching and research
  • Highly rated degrees, addressing many major global issues
  • Extensive fieldwork opportunities in Scotland, the UK, and overseas

Below, a picture of the East Quad offices and teaching rooms of the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, taken on Graduation Day (photo courtesy of the University of Glasgow).

What makes the University of Glasgow special?

View of the main tower of  the University of Glasgow:-

Why is Glasgow such a great city for a student?

  • Exciting, vibrant and very friendly
  • The UK's first UNESCO city of music
  • Host city of the 2014 Commonwealth Games
  • Has more parks that any other city in Europe
  • One of the largest student populations of any UK city
  • Close to numerous areas of outstanding natural beauty
  • Excellent national transport links and an international airport
  • “Brimming with style, Scotland’s biggest city is a revelation” (a)
  • The only UK destination in the Lonely Planet’s top 10 world cities list
  • Ranked 5th most popular city in UK in a recent poll of 40,000 Travellers (b)

(a) Time Magazine; (b) Lonely Planet 2008; Conde Nast Travellers' Reader Awards 2010

Read or download the Lonely Planet Guide to studying at Glasgow - "Study Glasgow".

Image of the City Chambers, Glasgow:-

Course blogs

Our students have also provided information about various courses and years of study. 

Having studied Geography at school we decided to continue it through the science faculty at Glasgow University. Whilst looking through the prospectus we were drawn to a dramatic description of volcanoes, earthquakes and other major earth processes. This would enhance our knowledge and interest of physical geography and so decided to choose Earth Science as our second subject. Little did we know this initial introduction to Earth Science would be the start of a four-year degree. 

Field Course blogs

Field courses are important parts of many of our courses, and all of our degrees. All our our students go on field courses, some of which are short day excursions close to Glasgow while other residental field courses last for many days and may involve overseas travel.  For many students the experiences gained on the field work provide some of the most enduring memories of their time at university. Field courses are very much enjoyed by staff and students alike.

NEW - Kenya Blog, Sept 2014 - Jenny Newall - find out about being a field assistant on geothermal energy research in the East African Rift Valley


Arran - Level 2 Earth Science - An illustrated description from three students about their experiences on the week-long Earth Science field course on the Island of Arran in March 2007.  Find out what it is really like to be a part of a residential university field course - if you are currrently in our level 2 class, use this to prepare for the Easter residential field class.

Ardnamurchan Level 3 Earth Science - Descriptions from level 3 Earth Science students in the field during the Ardnamurchan field course in April 2009, using tweets and photographs posted on Twitter using mobile phones!

Mallorca Level 3 Geography - Descriptions from level 3 Geography students in the field during the Ardnamurchan field course in April 2009, using tweets and photographs posted on Twitter using mobile phones!

Spain Level 4 Earth Science - Day-by-day description of the 2 week long level 4 Earth Science field course in southern Spain on Orogens and Basins. T

Tanzania Expedition Level 4 Geography - Detailed report on the activities of 16 Geography undergraduates who spent 6 weeks in Tanzania investigating a wide range of projects.


Postgraduate in the field in UtahPostgraduate Fieldwork in Utah

Student workload

We receive queries about work loads, contact hours, staffing etc, and the following provides some background information on these topics:-

Within Geography the first year student load works out as follows:

Level-1:  3 x 1 hour lectures per week; 1 x 1 hour tutorial or 1 x 3 hour laboratory per week (tutorials and labs alternate during the year).  All lectures are given by academic staff; most tutorials and labs are led by post-doctoral staff or senior graduate teaching assistants (GTAs), and lab assistants are junior GTAs (typically 1st or 2nd year PhD students).

In Earth Science the first year student load works out as follows:

Level 1: 3 x 1 hour lectures per week; and 1 x 2 hour laboratory per week, a 1 day (~8 hr) field excursion.  All lectures are given by academic staff; all labs and fieldwork are are led by dedicated staff, assisted by lab assistants who are a mixture of  graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) (typically 1st or 2nd year PhD students)  and undergraduate teaching assistants (final year Earth Science students).

Work loads after first year:

Level-2, Geography:  4 x 1 hour lectures per week; 1 x 1 hour tutorial or 1 x 2 hour lab per week (alternating, as above); 1 x 1 week residential field class (Easter).  As above for staffing, although most labs are led by academic staff, assisted by a relevant technician and GTAs.

Level 2, Earth Science: 4 x 1 hour lectures; 3 x 2 hour labs per week; and 5 - 7 day residential field course (Easter).  All lectures, labs and field courses are led by academic staff, assisted by a mixture of  graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) (typically 1st or 2nd year PhD students)  and undergraduate teaching assistants (final year Earth Science students).

Levels-3 & 4: (both Geography and Earth Science) lecture and laboratory contact hours are highly variable according to course choice.  Geography L3 has a compulsory 7-day overseas field course, and Level 4 Earth Science has an optional 10-day overseas field course.  In addition there are a wide range of residential and daily field courses, in both core and options courses at honours level.  Earth Science has a summer independent project and a laboratory research project (supervised by staff and involving extensive laboratory work in association with laboratory staff.  Geography has a major dissertation project.    All classes are led by academic staff, with post-doctoral staff and senior GTAs assisting in running some classses tutorials.

All of our GTAs go through an extensive training programme - the Geography Level 1 teaching team received a College Teaching Excellence Award in 2014-15.