Globalisation, climate change, environmental economics, nature conservation, food security, hurricanes, coastal geomorphology, volcanoes, the future of Africa and other developing areas, glacial and hydrological processes, social and economic inequalities, cultural differences. These are just some of the topics that concern Geography today. If these issues interest you, come to Cambridge and study Geography. We offer comprehensive facilities and resources, and up-to-date, lively teaching. Our course tackles these issues from a broad base, but also allows you to specialise. This means your degree can be science-based or arts-based, or both. In other words it’ll be what you make it. In common with all degrees in Cambridge you’ll graduate with a BA as the University doesn’t award BSc degrees.
In the first year, all students take two papers – Human and Physical Geography, as well as learning research skills in statistics, fieldwork, and GIS. In the second year, you can begin to specialize and you go on an overseas field trip. In the final year you can either specialise further or maintain a balance across the subject as a whole. You also do a dissertation, which can be in any specialist area of the discipline. You can choose any subject that you find interesting; as long as it relates to Geography! In 2015, Caius students did dissertations on prostitution, ecotourism, and the Ebola crisis! Further information can be found on the department website. There is also a university-wide Geography society called CUGS – here’s a picture from their annual garden party!
Geography at Caius
Geography is a popular subject at Caius with a friendly student community and a recently set-up Geography Society!
Dr Karenjit Clare is the Director of Studies for geographers at Caius. Dr Clare is an economic geographer with a particular focus on work, employment and labour, gender, globalisation, and global cities. In the first year, students can expect one to two supervisions a week. Some of these supervisions will be with the Director of Studies, although others may be with people who are specialists in various subject areas. In the second and third year, supervisions may be about one per week and students will probably see a wider range of people than in the first year. Lectures are provided in the Department and are the same for all students, regardless of College. As a Geographer at Caius, you will find yourself studying and socialising in a very dynamic, friendly and inter-disciplinary environment.
To find out more about Geography at Caius, take a look at these accounts from two of our first year students:
Throughout my time in education, whether it be high school or sixth form, I’ve always been amazed at home time flies and at how quickly I’ve progressed through GCSEs and A-levels. My first year at Cambridge however, truly has broken time! This year has gone incredibly quickly, yet I’ve learnt more this year, in such a short space of time, than ever before. Reflecting on this time last year when I was coming to the end of my A-level exam period, and feeling incredibly anxious and nervous about the prospect of potentially coming to Cambridge, I could not be happier with the decision I made.
Although the workload has been tough, the Geography course at Cambridge has allowed me to study such a wide spectrum of the discipline and discover a new passion for particular topics I had not studied before. This is one of the great things about the course at Cambridge: we as students have the opportunity to discover parts of Geography we did not know existed! Indeed, before I came to Cambridge I labelled myself as a physical Geographer, and mostly enjoyed reading about plate tectonics, volcanic eruptions and biodiversity. I now, at the end of first year, feel like a more rounded Geographer, and also enjoy topics like inequality and sustainable development.
Additionally the Cambridge supervision system has allowed me to grow in confidence. As someone who always struggled to put my hand up in lessons, I now find myself engaging in discussions with my peers and supervisors. I was particularly apprehensive about supervisions before I came to Cambridge, but I now see that they are nothing to worry about! Supervisions also offer a great opportunity to ask questions, and clear up any confusion with some lectures. Furthermore, first year has taught me how to manage my time effectively. With roughly one lecture a day and roughly one supervision per week, most days are spent reading. However in hindsight, I would try to balance reading around lectures and supervision essays more equally. This is important since essays in the exams will require a more rounded understanding of a topic, and not just a regurgitation of supervision essays.
Finally, being at Caius has made the whole learning process even better. Since first years are accommodated together in Harvey Court or Stephen Hawking Building, our Geography group at Caius has become very close. With an upcoming Caius Geography Society, the Geography community at Caius is only going to grow stronger. Caius also offers great support and our Director of Studies always goes above and beyond to make sure we are happy. Therefore I would encourage anyone considering applying to Caius to study Geography to go for it!
In the weeks leading up to my new life at Cambridge, I was filled with the unsettling mixture of euphoria, nerves and a hint of sadness. Little did I know that under the repetitively awkward fresher chat, that was the one thing we all had in common. Like a large proportion of first years, the standard Oxbridge stereotypes inundated my initial expectations. However, by the end of first term, the tedious fresher chat had blossomed into friendship and I’d departed from any worries of fitting in. Likewise, rumours of some unmanageable workload soon disintegrated. Indeed, it is no secret that there will be work. Yet, coming to Cambridge has allowed me to appreciate that we all do it because we love the subject we study. I have immersed myself in and enjoyed parts of Geography that I never thought I would - in fact, parts I never knew existed. Although I am a human geographer, the breadth and balance of the course has been an important introduction to the discipline as a whole and allowed me to find out what fascinates me most. By the end of first year, you can expect to know a bit about everything, from what causes ice ages to the geography of the housing crisis. Having said that, I’m looking forward to specialising further in the second year!
Upon arriving, I was surprised to find that Geographers only have around 5-7 hours of lectures a week, leaving what I thought would be a lot of free and unstructured time. However, each supervision essay requires hours of reading and writing, so don’t be fooled by the small number of lectures! In actual fact, I found that this freedom to read what I wanted gave me the opportunity to shape my own learning and delve into what I enjoyed most. And, if there is anything especially interesting or challenging, supervisions are the perfect place to highlight it. Supervisions are a chance to have a general discussion about the topic with your peers and an expert in the field. This may include a discussion of the essay you’ve written, but often goes far beyond, discussing different parts of the topic and linking it to other areas of the discipline as a whole. They are certainly not to be feared. Rather, they can be some of the most rewarding learning experiences and often leave me more inspired! If you find that you are struggling however, Caius offers great academic and pastoral support.
It is not however, all about work! Your workload and timetable are what you make of them, so it is easy to fit in other interests. Cambridge is the perfect place to try new activities or hone existing talents. In just a year, I unsuccessfully attempted rowing, continued with languages, got involved in student journalism and sang for a choir. Additionally, each term is filled with bops (college parties), formal dinners and the year ends with a week of extravagant May Balls. College also organises a number of events to better integrate us all and since all first year accommodation is on the same site, it is easy to meet people. Caius is a very outgoing and friendly college, so there is plenty of opportunity to socialise and have fun! The Caius geography group are very close, and we hope that with an upcoming college geography society this will continue.
Having completed my first year, I can say that I have learnt more that I have ever imagined, enjoy my subject even more, made the most incredible friends and had some of the most unbelievable experiences. However, I’ve got to add that it doesn’t happen overnight. I know that Cambridge is the only place I want to be, but I had to persist through the sometimes difficult settling in period to find that out!
We interview all suitably qualified candidates. Interviews are usually conducted by the Director of Studies and another member of the Geography department. Interviews play a very important part in our selection process, but a very strong academic record to-date remains essential.
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