Andrei discusses his time studying BA Geography
Why did you decide to study BA/BSc Geography?
When I applied for Geography at UoM, I chose the BA version of the course as I did humanities in high school. The main subjects I studied before university were Geography, History, English, and French, which is why I thought I would be purely a human geographer. I also had a look at the human geography modules in the course outline on the website, and being attracted by urban areas and societal issues, I felt BA was the most appropriate decision for myself. However, not only did I realise I enjoy some BSc modules, but I also learnt more about the crossovers between human and physical issues, which makes it hard for me to say I am fully a BA Geography student now.
Short answer: I study both, the BA/BSc denomination would be too restrictive to define my academic interests.
What is your favourite BA/BSc Geography Module?
Climate Change: Science and Society. It is a second-year module which I believe sits somewhere in-between BA and BSc… its name proves it! It provides you with a very interesting insight into the drivers of climate change, how carbon emissions are accounted for in the current world systems, and what technologies have been used to minimise disastrous effects caused by warming. I enjoyed the interactive seminars for this course, where we would work in groups and deliver mini-presentations on topics spanning from the carbon footprint of the fast fashion industry to ideas about geoengineering. I also found the philosophical discussions on the idea of nature very interesting when talking about natural climate solutions such as afforestation or wetlands. It is a very insightful module with fresh content on such a prevalent issue in the 21st century, so I definitely recommend it!
Are you hoping to go on a year abroad/year in industry?
I actually transferred to BA Geography with Professional Placement at the end of summer 2021. I am happy to have secured a 2-month internship in the Geography department working on a NERC-funded project aimed at creating a UK Fire Danger Rating System. This internship is the perfect combination between working with GIS, researching wildfires, and collaborating with people in a team, which I am really excited about. However, to meet the requirements for the industrial year, I need a minimum 8 months of work experience, which means I am still looking for other opportunities. I currently have a few active applications and I am on different stages of the recruitment processes for multiple companies, so I am hoping to find something soon.
What is the difference between BA and BSc Geography?
BA Geography encompasses human modules, whereas BSc Geography is concerned with physical topics. Some key words for human geography are transports, cities, feminist geographies, or globalisation, while physical geography is usually associated with hydrology, biogeography, or environmental processes. These word lists are not exhaustive, and their boundaries are not clearly delimited. Even though classically BA and BSc Geographers tend to see the world with social and physical lenses, respectively, they both cross each other’s boundaries many times in academia and real life. This means that despite the broad, well-known differences between BA and BSc Geography, a more detailed study of Geography will complicate the understanding of BA and BSc, as they are more interdependent than they seem.
Can I switch between BA and BSc Geography throughout my degree?
Yes! The Geography section on the UoM website encourages prospective students to choose only one of the two versions, as the course is really flexible and your interests throughout your degree will determine whether you are a BA or a BSc Geography student. Your first year will set the foundation for both human and physical geography, and then you are free to choose any combinations of optional modules: either fully BA, BSc, or a mix of the two.
Have you considered switching?
It has crossed my mind a few times, but I am not sure yet. I still think I am a human geographer at heart, so BA Geography still seems to define me best, however this year I am doing rather physical modules, such as GIS. I believe I have the right experience with BSc modules to be able to switch if I really wanted to, but this has never been stressed by any of my academics. We are often reminded of how interconnected areas of geography are, therefore switching to BSc seems to be more of a personal choice rather than a necessity. I also think that your dissertation will have a say in this, and professors are always there to help with uncertainties, so I am not worried about the BA/BSc title.
What is the biggest thing to consider when choosing BA/BSc Geography?
I think your interests and the way you tend to analyse the world are a great way to make this decision. I believe that pre-university studies may also be a useful compass to guide you into making this choice. My top tip would be to listen to your gut! Think about what BA and BSc mean to you, talk to family and friends, and read online about the two. Notice how you feel about each course. And remember – Geography at UoM is amongst the most flexible, versatile, and open-minded degrees in the world, where you can discuss your interests openly and fearlessly with academics and professionals.