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Figuring out what A-Levels to take for Geography can be a daunting task. You might feel like you’re making the wrong decision or behind if you haven’t already decided. 

That’s why we ensure our Geography summer students receive 1:1 personalised guidance from expert Geography tutors. So they’re well-informed as to their next steps in education. 

We’ve created this guide to help you in your decision-making process. In it, we’ve outlined the A-Level subjects top UK universities for Geography require. And we’ve also given tips on what A-Level combinations to aim for. 

What’s Geography? And Why Study It?

Geography is the study of places and of people who live in them. You’ll encounter two subtypes when studying Geography: Physical Geography and Human Geography.

Physical Geography is concerned with places, diving deep into Earth’s natural processes and features such as the atmosphere, seasons, sea forms, and landforms.

Human Geography examines human interactions with communities, economies, cultures, and the environment in which they live.

Is Geography a Science? 

Yes, Geography is a science. To give you a better idea of why Geography is considered a science, here are some of the topics often covered at the university:

  • Geosciences
  • Geographical and environmental data
  • Earth systems 
  • Physical environments
  • Global challenges
  • Environment and society
  • Urbanism and culture

Best Universities for Geography in the UK

The best universities for Geography in the UK include:

  • University of Oxford
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of St. Andrews
  • Durham University
  • London School of Economics
  • University of Glasgow
  • University College London
  • Loughborough University
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Leeds 

If you want to maximise your career opportunities after graduation, why not try applying to these top universities for Geography in the UK?

Geography Degree Entry Requirements

The typical Geography degree entry requirements include:

  • A specific standard grade for A-Levels, Advanced Highers, or IB (depending on which one you took.)
  • Admissions Test – some universities require you to take an admissions test as part of the application. For instance, the University of Oxford will ask you to take the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA).
  • Written Work– depending on the university, you may be asked to submit written work samples. 

What A-Level Subjects Go with Geography

To determine what A-Level subjects go with Geography, let’s take a look at what A-Levels the top UK universities for Geography require:

  1. University of Oxford -A*AA with A-Level Geography strongly recommended
  2. University of Cambridge – A*AA, some colleges may require you to take A-Level Geography
  3. University of St Andrews – ABB to A*A*A (no specific subjects required)
  4. Durham University
    1. BSc Geography – AAA/A*AB with Geography or any science subject
    2. BA Geography – A*AA (no specific subjects required)
  5. London School of Economics – AAA, a wide-ranging mix of traditional subjects (e.g. maths, science, geography, English), is recommended. 
  6. University of Glasgow
    1. Geography BSc – AAB – BCC, with B for any A-Level science subject
    2. Geography MA/MA SocSci – AAB – BCC, with A-level English or Humanities subject
  7. University College London
    1. Geography BA – AAA, with at least 2 A-Level subjects UCL’s list of preferred subjects. 
    2. Geography BSc – AAA, with at least 2 A-Level subjects UCL’s list of preferred subjects.

Some A-Level subjects in UCL’s preferred list include:

  • Biology 
  • Chemistry
  • Economics
  • Geography A or Geography B
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology
  1. Loughborough University – AAB (no specific subjects required)
  2. University of Bristol – AAA in any subjects (standard offer) – AAB in 3 specific subjects (contextual offer). Specific subjects include:
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Human Biology
  • Marine Science
  • Environmental Science
  • Computing
  • Computer Science
  • Design and Technology: Product Design 3D
  • Information Communication Technology 
  • Mathematics
  • Further Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Statistics
  • Geography
  • Geology
  1. University of Leeds 

Geography BA – AAA or AAB with a social science or humanities subject, such as 

  • Ancient History/History; 
  • Business/Business Studies; 
  • Classical Civilisation; 
  • Economics; 
  • English; 
  • Geography; 
  • Government and Politics
  • Law
  • Media Studies
  • Modern Languages or Ancient Languages
  • Philosophy
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies
  • Sociology

Geography BSc – AAB including one of any of the following subjects:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computing/Computer Science
  • Design and Technology
  • Electronics
  • Environmental Studies
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Life and Health Sciences (Double Award only)
  • Marine Science
  • Mathematics/Pure Mathematics/Further Mathematics
  • Physical Education
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Applied Science 
  • Sport Science
  • Statistics.

These are the A-Level requirements some of the best universities in the UK require for entry. Which among the schools are you planning to apply to?

What Subjects are Needed to Study Geography?

After checking out the various A-Level requirements of the top UK universities for Geography, did you notice how varied the subjects are? Some schools require Geography A-Level, and some don’t. 

So what’s the best thing you can do? First, pick the top 3 schools you want to study Geography in. Then, check out their A-Level requirements, and use that as the basis for your subject choices.

Of course, since you’re aiming for a Geography course, taking Geography at the A-Level is best. 

The next best tip? Make sure you choose from a variety of A-Levels. Choosing subjects too close to each other narrows your option to that subject (e.g. maths/further maths combo keeps you tied down to maths.) Or worse, the university will refuse to accept your A-Level subjects. 

So to keep your options open, you can hardly go wrong by choosing a maths/science, essay-based, and arts/humanities combo.

What A-levels are Useful for Geography?

A-Level subjects that are useful for Geography include:

  • Mathematics –  is helpful in Geography because you will need maths for various tasks, such as constructing map projections, doing spatial analysis, and using statistical techniques. 
  • Physics – Planet Earth operates on a set of Physical Laws. And to understand these, you must study physics. Hence, why physics A-Level is useful for Geography. 
  • Chemistry – can be helpful when understanding the earth’s composition (e.g. soil, rocks, water.) Geography students also examine chemical processes to understand pollution and how it affects the environment. 
  • Biology – will give you a deeper understanding of the interaction among living organisms and their respective habitat. Geography students also use biological principles when examining the geographic distribution of various life forms. 

Typical A-levels Taken by Current Geography Students

What A-Levels are taken by current Geography students? Let’s look at the University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics to answer this question. 

The University of Cambridge states that 59% of its entrants achieved A*A*A grades from 2017-2019. 99% of these successful applicants took Geography as one of their A-Level subjects. 

How about the London School of Economics? The two most common A-Level subjects the majority of applicants took are Geography and Economics. Other subjects applicants frequently took include:

  • Sociology
  • History
  • Government and Politics
  • A natural science subject 

How Useful is Geography A-Level?

If you’re planning to take Geography at the university, taking it at A-Level is your best preparation. Because many universities will require it as a prerequisite.  

In addition, by taking Geography at A-Level, you’ll have firsthand experience of Geography and its complexities. By the time you step into higher education, you have a solid idea of what to expect.

What if you want to keep your options open? The good news is, Geography is a facilitating subject. What does that mean? A facilitating subject refers to A-Level subjects that most universities and courses prefer. So if you take Geography A-Level, you’ll have a wide variety of opportunities available to you. 

Geography A-Level is especially useful for the following courses:

  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Civil Engineering
  • Archaeology
  • Sociology
  • Environmental Science

Do You Need A-Level Maths for Geography

No, you don’t need A-Level Maths for Geography since universities don’t require Maths as a prerequisite. However, taking A-Level Maths for Geography is helpful

Why? Because it’ll help prepare you for surveying areas, understanding statistical data, and using simulation models. 

How Can I Get Better at Geography A-Level

You can get better at Geography A-Level, and even achieve an A or A* by incorporating the following tips into your revision routine.

  1.   Find ways to make the information stick.

Simply reading textbooks or notes you’ve received from your classmates won’t help you much in retaining information. And neither will it inspire you to reread (rereading is key to success!) 

The solution? Find creative ways to make revisiting information enjoyable and retainable. Here are some methods you can use:

  • Create visual aids, such as graphs, doodles, and mindmaps.
  • Highlight essential information and take advantage of colour codes to denote what a specific highlight means.
  • Write key Geography terms and definitions on flashcards so you can quickly shuffle and reread.
  • Stick colourful notes on walls in your room to make it easier for you to remember.
  • Jot down what you’ve learned on a blank paper to see if you remembered right.
  • “Teach” a classmate or a friend, and make them ask you questions.
  • Watch videos and listen to podcasts to make your learning experience more fun!
  1. Decide the When and Where

If you do not set a proper time and place for studying Geography, it’ll be challenging to establish a solid study routine. And without a vigorous study routine? You’ll most likely procrastinate, which is neither healthy nor practical in the long term.

Find it difficult to stick to your when and where? Invite study mates! That way, you’ll have accountability to ensure you follow through with your plans.

  1. Check out past papers.

Past papers are a goldmine. If you’re aiming for an A*, you must get your hands on them! Why? Because past papers give you valuable data on what questions were asked, how they were phrased, and what answers had the highest rate of success. 

What’s more, you can also read the examiner’s commentary and analysis of how the student answered the questions. So you’ll know what and what not to do when it’s your turn. 

  1. Practice your essay writing skills

Do you want to pass Geography with flying colours? Then, get down to business and practice your essay writing skills! You must be able to defend your point with clarity and substantial backup points. To achieve this, you must read, read, and read more!

Why? Because if you don’t have a wealth of facts and case studies in your mind, how will you properly discuss your points? So make sure to expose yourself to a wide array of information, such as

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Journal articles

From renowned sources, including:

  • National Geographic 
  • Gale
  • ScienceDaily
  • Times 

Next tip, practise your essay plan. An essay plan gives your essay a coherent structure to make it easier for your readers to follow your line of thinking. 

Where can you get an excellent essay plan, you ask? From past papers. There’s hardly a better source! Reading past essays lets you know what works best and what doesn’t. 

After having a detailed idea of your essay’s structure, it’s time to practise. Grab a topic or question, set your timer, and write a full essay. 

Then consider having your tutor, professor, or fellow classmate read it and give you feedback. Do this, and you’ll develop strong confidence in writing essays. Thereby helping you ace A-Level Geography.

  1. Take care of yourself.

What good will these tips do if you do not have the strength or motivation to follow through? To do your best in Geography, you have to be your best. So pay attention to what you eat and how much time you sleep. 

Do you give yourself time to relax? How about setting aside time to do something recreational? 

Time management is key to self-care and achieving your responsibilities as an A-Level Geography student. Here are some practical strategies to budget your time:

  • Create a time map detailing what you need to do at a given hour.
  • Decide which tasks you need to prioritise.
  • Focus on the task at hand. About 97% of this study’s participants were found inefficient in multitasking. 
  • Learn to say no, so you can say yes to your priorities.

These 5 tips are among the most valuable strategies to help you ace your Geography A-Level. Good luck!

If you’re interested in pursuing a degree in Geography, it’s essential to ensure you take the right A-Levels. Geography A-Level is often required or preferred by universities, so it’s a good idea to start planning now.

We hope this article has helped you figure out what you need to do to get started on your journey towards getting that Geography degree!

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