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Study Geography at Otago

People, places and the environment.

Geographers study the environment – both physical and human, including the physical processes that shape the natural environment, the social and cultural processes that explain patterns of human activity, and the interactions between human activity and the natural world.

Geography also explores key environmental and development challenges, such as climate change and inequality, and the potential solutions to these problems. Geography helps us manage human activity and secure the future of our planet.

A Geography degree at Otago will equip you with valuable research and communication skills using interdisciplinary approaches to explore environmental and societal challenges. This combination of practical skills and theoretical learning will serve you well no matter the career you choose.

Why study Geography?

Geography provides a bridge between the arts and the sciences, addressing issues at the local, regional, national and global scales. A Geography degree at Otago provides training through lectures and fieldwork in the environments in which we work.

Geography papers fit well into almost any degree and the School of Geography has strong links with many other disciplines including Geology, Surveying, Agricultural Innovation and sustainability research (Centre for Sustainability).

The mix of analytical and communication skills provided, combined with practical experience make Otago Geography graduates highly sought after in a wide range of industries.

Background required

There are no subjects you have to have done in order to study Geography – you don’t even need to have studied it at school.

Career opportunities

Geography graduates work in the public and private sectors. Their skills and interdisciplinary outlook prepare them for a diverse range of careers.

Central government departments, state-owned enterprises, local government,  private corporations and consultancies employ Geography graduates in areas such as regional and resource planning, environmental management, natural resources (especially water) analysis, social and economic research, social services and regional development.

Geography at Otago

Geography may be taken as the major subject for the Bachelor of Arts (BA) or for the Bachelor of Science (BSc). In addition, many students enrol for undergraduate papers in Geography while pursing other studies, including Law, Commerce, Humanities, Ecology, Geology, Surveying, Physical Education, Tourism, and Education.

The undergraduate programme provides a firm grounding in the social, economic and physical aspects of the environment. The study of Geography falls into three main areas:

Human Geography in which students focus on issues of urban and economic change, uneven development, social themes like ethnicity, childhood and gender, geopolitical conflict and the human use of natural resources.

Physical Geography in which students focus on physical geography, including earth surface processes and their expression in the landscape, the Earth’s weather systems and climates, factors which lead to geographic variations in the distribution and growth of living things, and environmental controls on the availability and quality of water.

Environmental Management in which students gain a theoretical and practical understanding of environmental processes such as climatology, geomorphology, biogeography, hydrology and soil science. This area incorporates sustainable development, integrated resource management and environmental planning and policy.

Both BA and BSc Geography students can mix papers from across the discipline to build an applied environmental management programme within the Geography degree. It is also possible to take Environmental Management as a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc) degree.

Teaching style

Geography papers are taught in a range of ways. Students attend lectures, tutorials and labs, and gain hands-on experience through fieldwork and practical courses in research methods.

Further study

The School of Geography offers an honours programme. Postgraduate studies include the Master of Planning, Master of International Development and Planning, Master of Arts, Master of Science, postgraduate diplomas, and a strong PhD programme.

Qualifications

Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages.

Programme requirements

Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Geography

LevelPapersPoints
100-level

GEOG 101  Physical Geography

GEOG 102  Human Geography

18

18

200-level

GEOG 280  Research Methodology in Human Geography

Two further 200-level GEOG papers (excluding GEOG 290)

18

36

300-level

GEOG 380  Field Research Studies

Three further 300-level GEOG papers

18

54

Plus

198 further points; must include 54 points at 200-level or above.

Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Arts

198
Total 360

Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)) in Geography

Papers

Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) in Geography

The Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) programme in Geography is the same as the programme for the degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)).

Master of Arts (Coursework) (MA(Coursework)) in Geography

Papers

Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis)) in Geography

Thesis
  • Thesis: GEOG 5

Note: Students who have not completed a Bachelor of Arts (BA(Hons)) in Geography or a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) in Geography must complete the required papers for the BA(Hons) in Geography prior to undertaking the thesis.

Bachelor of Science (BSc) majoring in Geography

Level Papers Points
100-level

GEOG 101  Physical Geography

GEOG 102  Human Geography

STAT 110  Statistical Methods

18

18

18

200-level

GEOG 290  Field Research Methods (Science)

At least one of GEOG 281, GEOG 282, GEOG 283, GEOG 284GEOG 286, GEOG 287, GEOG 288, GEOG 289, GEOG 298, GEOG 299

One further 200-level GEOG paper (excluding GEOG 280)

18

18

 
18

300-level

GEOG 380  Field Research Studies

Two of GEOG 387, GEOG 388, GEOG 389, GEOG 390, GEOG 392, GEOG 393, GEOG 394, GEOG 395, GEOG 398, GEOG 399

One further 300-level GEOG paper

18

36

 
18

Plus

180 further points; must include 54 points at 200-level or above.

Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Science

180
Total   360

Bachelor of Science with Honours (BSc(Hons)) in Geography

Papers

Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSci) in Geography

Papers

Master of Science (MSc) in Geography

Papers and Thesis
  • GEOG 495 Master's Thesis Preparation

  • Four 400-level GEOG papers

  • Thesis: GEOG 5

    Note: The papers are normally taken before undertaking the thesis.

 

Minor subject requirements

Geography (Arts option) as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree

Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree

Level Papers Points
100-level

GEOG 101  Physical Geography

GEOG 102  Human Geography

18

18

200-level Two 200-level GEOG papers (excluding GEOG 290) 36
300-level One 300-level GEOG paper (excluding GEOG 380) 18
Total   90

Geography (Science option) as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree

Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), or Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree

Level Papers Points
100-level

GEOG 101  Physical Geography

GEOG 102  Human Geography

18

18

200-level

Two of GEOG 216, GEOG 281, GEOG 282, GEOG 283, GEOG 284, GEOG 285, GEOG 286, GEOG 287, GEOG 288, GEOG 289, GEOG 290, GEOG 298, GEOG 299

36

300-level One of GEOG 387, GEOG 388, GEOG 389, GEOG 390, GEOG 392, GEOG 393, GEOG 394, GEOG 395, GEOG 397, GEOG 398, GEOG 399 18
Total   90

Papers

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
GEOG101 2021 Physical Geography 18 points Semester 1
GEOG102 2021 Human Geography 18 points Semester 2
GEOG210 2021 Social Geography 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG212 2021 Transformations in Developing Countries 18 points Semester 1
GEOG214 2021 Economic Geography of the Post-World War II Era 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG215 2021 Urban Geography 18 points Semester 2
GEOG216 2021 Environmental Management: Principles and Values 18 points Semester 1
GEOG219 2021 Special Topic in Human Geography 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG228 2021 Uneven Development in Contemporary India 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG276 2021 Geographies of Contestation, Action and Change 18 points Semester 1
GEOG278 2021 Geographies of the South Pacific 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG280 2021 Research Methodology in Human Geography 18 points Semester 1
GEOG281 2021 Topics in Physical Geography 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG282 2021 Climate Change: Present and Future 18 points Semester 1
GEOG283 2021 Climate Change: The Past 18 points Semester 2
GEOG284 2021 Soils and the Environment 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG285 2021 Southern Landscapes 12 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG286 2021 Climatology 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG287 2021 Plants, People and the Environment 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG288 2021 Rivers and Runoff 18 points Semester 1
GEOG289 2021 Geomorphology 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG290 2021 Field Research Methods (Science) 18 points Full Year
GEOG298 2021 Coastal Geomorphology 18 points Semester 2
GEOG299 2021 Freshwater Resources: Monitoring and Management 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG328 2021 Uneven Development in Contemporary India 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG374 2021 Economic Geography of the Post-World War II Era 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG376 2021 Geographies of Contestation, Action and Change 18 points Semester 1
GEOG378 2021 Geographies of the South Pacific 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG379 2021 Special Topic in Human Geography 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG380 2021 Field Research Studies 18 points Full Year
GEOG381 2021 Social Geography 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG382 2021 Transformations in Developing Countries 18 points Semester 1
GEOG384 2021 Urban Geography 18 points Semester 2
GEOG387 2021 Topics in Physical Geography 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG388 2021 Climate Change: Present and Future 18 points Semester 1
GEOG389 2021 Climate Change: The Past 18 points Semester 2
GEOG390 2021 Soils and the Environment 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG392 2021 Climatology 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG393 2021 Plants, People and the Environment 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG394 2021 Rivers and Runoff 18 points Semester 1
GEOG395 2021 Geomorphology 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG397 2021 Environmental Management: Policy and Practice 18 points Semester 2
GEOG398 2021 Coastal Geomorphology 18 points Semester 2
GEOG399 2021 Freshwater Resources: Monitoring and Management 18 points Not offered in 2021
GEOG401 2021 Theories of Development 20 points Semester 1
GEOG402 2021 Development Planning and Practice 20 points Semester 2
GEOG454 2021 Alpine Geomorphology 20 points Semester 1
GEOG457 2021 Advanced Urban Geography 20 points Semester 1
GEOG459 2021 Biogeography 20 points Semester 2
GEOG460 2021 Climatology 20 points Semester 2
GEOG461 2021 Mountain Hydrology 20 points Semester 1
GEOG463 2021 Geographies of Justice 20 points Semester 2
GEOG464 2021 An Approved Course in Geography 20 points Semester 1, Semester 2
GEOG465 2021 Special Topic in Geography 20 points Semester 2
GEOG470 2021 A Research Topic in Geography 40 points Full Year
GEOG471 2021 Impact Assessment and Sustainability 20 points Semester 2
GEOG472 2021 Developments in Environmental Management 20 points Semester 1
GEOG474 2021 Coastal Management 20 points Semester 1
GEOG490 2021 Dissertation 60 points Full Year
GEOG495 2021 Master's Thesis Preparation 40 points Full Year
GEOG590 2021 Research Dissertation 60 points 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period

Key information for future students

Contact us

School of Geography
Email geography@otago.ac.nz
Web otago.ac.nz/geography