Buenos Aires with Pampas landscape in foreground, 2008. The fast changing cities of the global South are a key focus for teaching and research in the department.
Credit: Matthew Gandy
Welcome to the Geography subject page at King’s! Here you will find an overview of Geography at King's, the Cambridge Geography course, and information about applying to study Geography as an undergraduate.
- The Geography course
- Geography at King's
- Student perspectives
- Academics in Geography
- Applying to study Geography
- What are we looking for?
- Reading, resources and events
- Further information
The Geography Tripos (Tripos = course)
You don't have to choose between human and physical geography - you'll study both. Credit: OiMax
The Cambridge Geography Tripos is designed to introduce you to all areas of the subject, including contemporary human, historical, social and cultural, environmental and physical geography. From second year onwards you start to specialise in the areas which interest you most, while maintaining the context of the discipline as a whole. Full details of the Tripos can be found on the Department of Geography website.
Mural in Berlin - one of the most fascinating cities in Europe, and a destination for one of the overseas field trips. Credit: Matthew Gandy
Fieldwork is an important part of Geography, and the course includes day trips, and a week’s field class in the Easter or summer vacation of your second year. You are also expected to undertake independent fieldwork for your final-year dissertation, and many students travel overseas. Both the College and the University are able to assist with funding.
Why not do some reading to explore Geography topics?
The Geography Department is on the Downing Site (a collection of faculties), less than ten minutes walk from King's (see map). There are a range of Geography laboratories there as well as the specialist library and teaching rooms. All lectures are organised by the department and take place there.
The lecture programme is complemented by small teaching groups of two or three students. These are called ‘supervisions’ in Cambridge, and are organised partly by the College’s Director of Studies and partly through the Department. We have well-established links with supervisors in other colleges, enabling you to select freely from the wide variety of papers that Geography in Cambridge offers as you progress through your course.
Geography at King's
Jude Browne with Sorcha and Nick at graduation
If you come to King’s to study Geography you will be part of a lively and committed group of students. With the relatively small number geographers, students get to know each other well, and are particularly supportive of each other during their course, meeting both for work and for social activities.
Students have 24/7 access to King's College Library. As well as providing books needed for the course and a very pleasant environment for studying (see the virtual tour), the library has a special climate change and global warming collection which will be of interest. King's students also have easy access to the University Library, next to the King's Garden Hostels (see map)
Former King’s geographers have gone on to a range of varied careers. Several have studied for further degrees, and some are now eminent professors of Geography elsewhere. Recent students have followed their undergraduate degree with a Masters course in, for example, Landscape and Culture, Social Anthropology, Urban Regeneration or Science of the Environment. Others have become teachers, either in the UK or overseas, or have obtained interesting positions in non-governmental organisations or with planning authorities.
Nina (pictured), Adam and Ira have written about their experiences of King's Geography, including what it was like to start the course, supervisions, the timetable and workload, the best and worst things about the course, and what they do in their spare time. These accounts are well worth reading to get a sense of what studying Geography at King's is really like.
Academics in Geography
Jude Browne researches gender, sex segregation, political and social theories of equality, social dialogue, modern economies and capabilities, and social and human rights.
Nick Cutler (current Director of Studies) is a physical geographer with a special interest in long-term ecological change, particularly in high-latitude habitats.
Matthew Gandy (Director of Studies 2016 onwards) has research interests in cultural, urban, and environmental geography with particular emphasis on landscape, infrastructure, and bio-diversity
Sandra Jasper is a regular supervisor at King's. She has research interests in cultural and urban geography with particular emphasis on acoustic geographies, feminist theory, and the ‘island city’ of West Berlin.
Applying to study Geography
If you don't feel well supported, see applying with limited support or advice.
We welcome applications from students with the potential to meet our entrance requirements from all kinds of schools, all over the world. The numbers admitted in Geography vary from year to year, but we rarely admit fewer than two or more than four undergraduates. We are happy to consider applicants who wish to take a year out before coming to study Geography at King’s.
The application process for all subjects is explained on our how to apply page, which we advise applicants to read thoroughly in combination with the details below about subject advice for Geography, the pre-interview written assessment, sending a school essay, and Geography interviews.
We are keen to attract applicants who can think analytically and demonstrate a real enthusiasm for Geography, shown through their engagement with particular topics, through wider reading, or in some cases through experiences of travel to different countries.
The majority of our students have studied Geography at A level, IB Higher Level, Pre-U or equivalent, although this is by no means mandatory. Most academic subjects would have relevance to some part of the course and you might like to consider the further advice in the general information on subject choices.
All candidates for Geography at King's are required to take the pre-interview admissions assessment for Geography, which will take place in schools and other assessment centres on 2 November 2017. You must be registered in advance (separately to your UCAS application) to take the assessment. The registration deadline is 15 October 2017 and there is a deadline of 30 September if you normally get exam adjustments for a disability/Specific Learning Difficulty/long-term illness. Your assessment centre must register you for the pre-interview assessment (you can't register yourself).
Brief information about written assessments
Geography assessment format and specimen papers
Important: If you're not registered by 15 October (30 Sept for special arrangements) you won't be able to take the assessment. Unfortunately, this would mean that your application is not valid.
Your performance in the assessment will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.
Once you have applied through UCAS, you will be asked to submit a recent piece of school work of your choice. For those looking early, written work guidelines are published in September as part of the Applicant Information. All applicants will receive an email shortly after the 15 October deadline sending you to this information. The deadline for written work will be in early November (see how to apply) and essays must not be sent before 15 October.
We invite the majority of candidates to Cambridge for an interview, which will take place in early December. In the half hour before the interview you will be asked to read / look at some relevant material which we will discuss with you in the interview.
Information about the interview options for international candidates are in the International Students section.
What are we looking for?
The most important criteria are enthusiasm, dedication and potential and we consider each case on an individual basis. This course requires a considerable commitment in terms of time and energy, but it is well worth the effort!
We will be interested in:
- your existing examination results which we consider carefully, taking into account your personal and educational background;
- your academic interests and motivation as explained in your UCAS personal statement and explored further in interviews;
- your school reference and predicted grades for any exams you have yet to take;
- the quality of the school work that you send;
- your performance in the pre-interview written assessment for Geography
- how you approach questions designed to make you think at interview - our interviewers will work closely with students invited for interviews to assess your suitability for the challenges of Cambridge Geography.
At King's, we are looking for promise and potential. So although existing and predicted grades form a central criterion for admissions, we are careful to interpret grades in light of your personal and educational background. We assess each application individually. We are interested to learn about your existing knowledge and skills, but we endeavour also to find out how you would deal with the new materials and ideas you would encounter at Cambridge.
Reading, resources and events
- See the general advice about developing your interests.
- Not sure where to start? There is no required reading for applicants, but the Director of Studies in Geography has provided some helpful reading suggestions to give a flavour of the material that you can study in the course. We also advise you to follow up on areas of your school courses that you have enjoyed.
- We also recommend that you keep up with the news and read a newspaper, as well as dipping into current affairs journals and magazines such as Nature, New Scientist, The Economist, Geographical Magazine and Geography Review.
- The subject resources section has a tag for social sciences posts, which you might like to browse.
- Events which may be of interest in the year before you apply (year 12 in the UK) include Oxford and Cambridge Student Conferences, CU Masterclasses and King's Open Days. Students from backgrounds where there is little tradition of entry to Higher Education might like to think about applying for the Sutton Trust Summer Schools or the CUSU Shadowing Scheme.
The Scott Polar Research Museum
- Geography course outline, video and guide
- Geography department website
- Geography Alternative Prospectus (written by students)
- International Students
- Extenuating circumstances
- If you have further questions please feel free to email King's Admissions Office.