The study of geography helps us develop an understanding of the processes that shape the surface of the earth and how humans use and interact with this environment. Geography endeavours to do what few sciences attempt: to create a holistic and integrated understanding of interactive complex environmental systems.

Through a geography major, you will study the interactions between earth, environment and society. This involves consideration of such issues as climate change, population growth, hazards and environmental management.

You will have the opportunity to go on field trips to overseas locations and to rural and urban parts of Australia, and participate in tutorial debates about such issues as global inequality and poverty. You will also engage in computer-based analysis of geographic data, and on-line discussion boards and interactive education techniques. These approaches reflect the fact that, above all, geography is a field of study in which you are encouraged to learn relevant skills that enable you to think critically and express arguments about the inter-relationships of people and planet.

For more information on the program structure and content, view the Science Undergraduate Handbook.

Major outline

You should enrol in GEOS 1001 (‘Earth, Environment and Society’) and GEOS 1002 (‘Introductory Geography’). Both these units of study examine issues such as climate change, population growth, hazards and environmental management, using computer-based resources and field observation. Students are strongly encouraged to enrol in both of these units, however note that it is possible to enrol in GEOS 1002 without having completed GEOS 1001. Intermediate units in Geography require at least one of these units as a prerequisite.

In second year you will start to tailor your studies to your interests. There are two main pathways in the study of Geography at the University of Sydney. The human-environmental pathway involves units covering cities and regions (GEOS 2123) and environmental and resource management (GEOS 2121). In the physical-environmental pathway, you have the option of enrolling in units from within the School of Geosciences covering coastal and environmental issues (GEOS 2115, GEOS 2111, GEOS 2121) or units offered through the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment (SOIL 2003, SOIL 2004, LWSC 2002). It's a good idea to choose these options based on forward planning for the Senior year, as some Senior units of study require particular prerequisites from the Intermediate year.

To successfully complete your geography major, you need to take at least 24 credit points of senior units of study from the geography subject area, including Geographical Concepts, Skills & Methods (GEOS 3333/3933) and/or the Southeast Asian Field School (GEOS 3053/3953).

Global Development and Livelihoods
Earth, Environment and Society
Environmental and Resource Management
Oceans, Coasts and Climate Change
Natural Hazards and GIS
Asia-Pacific Field School
Cities and Citizenship
Coastal Environments and Processes
Environmental Assessment
Environmental Law and Ethics

Graduate opportunities

Students who have graduated with a geography major from the University of Sydney are found in many different private and public sector situations. Employers view the integrative and applied nature of geography as one of the discipline's strengths. Many geography graduates are employed as environmental or natural resource managers.

Graduates have gone on to jobs such as environmental officers, overseas ambassadors, regional analysts, army officers, statisticians, cartographers, geographic information system (GIS) analysts, water quality officers and land care coordinators.

Further study for major

Furthering your study of geography is possible through research programs like the honours year and subsequent postgraduate research programs like the MSc and PhD, or through postgraduate courses.

Eligible students can proceed to the honours year, where you gain not only the benefit of studying geography at a higher level (with a wide choice of courses to be taken), but you also gain invaluable experience in undertaking a research project supervised by one or more members of staff, and producing a thesis of your work. Many students also end up publishing one or more scientific papers based on their honours research.

After honours, many eligible students continue into a higher research degree to pursue careers in research. The School of Geosciences offers the following geography specific research areas: Asia-Pacific geographies; social, economic and environmental sustainability in regional Australia; landscape evolution and processes; sustainability, citizenship and cultural spaces in cities; and geocoastal research.

Geography graduates can also undertake further study by coursework, through a course like the Master of Science in Spatial Information Science, Master of Science in Environmental Science or the Master of Sustainability, which offer a more structured mode of study and a qualification that is highly regarded in industry.

Related subject areas

Environmental Studies
Geology and Geophysics
Marine Science

Our courses that offer this major