MA (Hons) Geography, Society and Environment

The course

UCAS code
4 years
Delivery type

We are ranked 9th in the UK for Town and Country Planning and Landscape Design in the Complete University Guide 2022.


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The Geography, Society and Environment degree is designed for students who are interested in human geography and related topics in urban design, social policy, cities and modern studies. Overall, this degree explores the ways in which people shape and are shaped by the places and environments in which they live. How do cities change and how do the people involved shape those cities and neighbourhoods? How does the built environment shape our behaviour? What makes some places healthier or happier or more resilient?

You will develop field work skills in surveying, mapping and site assessment with field work and site visits as a key strand in your learning. You will develop important research skills through core modules in statistics, data analysis and research methods which you will apply to your final year research dissertation. Cross-disciplinary and problem-based working helps students acquire the skills needed to work in multi-disciplinary teams and solve real-world problems. 

We are ranked 9th in the UK for Town and Country Planning and Landscape Design in the Complete University Guide 2022.


You can participate in residential field trips in years 1, 2 and 3, visiting locations in Scotland, the UK and beyond; plus shorter one day trips and site visits. These trips provide important opportunities to deepen practical skills in field survey, site observation, data collection and analysis.

You can experience links to practice and industry – hearing from visiting speakers and professionals working as chartered geographers, surveyors and planners.

In year 3, all students are given the opportunity for mentoring by a practitioner, someone working in industry who can discuss career choices, graduate job opportunities and professional membership routes.

Global College pathway for this degree

If you do not meet the entry requirements for this degree, have a look at Heriot-Watt Global College, where you can follow an accelerated pathway which will get you onto the second year of this degree.

Jamie Smith, graduating in Geography, Society and Environment

I believe my degree provided me with the knowledge and skills required for the career path I am taking in Transport Planning. Course content such as report writing, presentations and multidisciplinary team projects have been invaluable in my development as a young professional.

Jamie Smith, MA (Hons) Geography, Society and Environment Graduate

Course content

Year 1

Semester 1

  • Geography Today
  • Dynamic Earth 1
  • Introduction to Human Geography
  • Shaping Tomorrow Together A

Semester Two

  • Dynamic Earth 2
  • Scottish Geographies: Fieldwork Observation
  • Human Geography and the City
  • Shaping Tomorrow Together B

Year 2

Semester 1

  • Surveying and GIS 
  • Catchment Hydrology 
  • City Life and Difference

Optional courses include:

  • Introductory Biology 1 
  • Critical Writing and Analysis 
  • Employability and Professional Skills
  • Mathematics for Scientists 1 
  • Scottish Studies 

Semester Two

  • Geomorphology, Landscapes and Society 
  • Geography Toolbox 
  • Global Challenges 1 

Optional courses include:

  • Introduction to World History and Culture 
  • Critical Writing and Analysis 
  • The Economy 
  • Film and Cultures 
  • Contemporary Economic Policy and Institutions 

Year 3

Semester 1

  • Global Challenges 2 
  • Theories and Methods in Geography 1 
  • Place and Place-Making 

Optional courses include:

  • Marine and Coastal Geography 
  • River Geomorphology: Form and Process 
  • Transport Design, Infrastructure and Society 
  • Scottish Studies 

Semester Two

  • Theories and Methods in Geography 2 
  • Comparative Urban Development 
  • Nature-Based Solutions in the City 

Optional courses include:

  • Energy and Buildings 
  • Environment and Behaviour 
  • Environmental Technology and Management 

Year 4

Semester 1

  • Research Dissertation (Urban Studies) 
  • Urbanisation in the Global South 

Optional courses include:

  • Marine and Coastal Geography 
  • River Geomorphology: Form and Process 
  • Comparative Social and Cultural Issues 
  • Transport Design, Infrastructure and Society 

Semester Two

  • Research Dissertation (Urban Studies) 
  • Social Sustainability 

Optional courses include:

  • Design Project (Urban Studies) 
  • Sustainable Development and the Intercultural Context 

Discover Uni course data

Discover Uni provides data on each university's degree courses across a range of measures including student satisfaction, graduate jobs and salaries.


Work and study

This is what our MA (Hons) students are doing 15 months after graduating:

  • 75% are working
  • 10% are studying
  • 5% are working and studying.


  • The average salary of students 15 months after graduating: £26500
  • The average UK salary of students 15 months after graduating from a similar course: £26000

Potential career paths

  • Conservation and environment professionals
  • Teaching Professionals

Entry requirements

Year 1

Standard entry requirements 

  • Highers AABB
  • A-Levels BBC - ABB
  • Int. Baccalaureate 29 points
  • BTEC DMM (in a relevant subject)
  • HNC B in graded unit (in relevant HNC)

Minimum entry requirements*

  • Highers BBBC
  • A-Levels BBC - ABB

* Minimum: under our Fair Access Policy, we will relax our standard entry requirements for some Scottish students depending on their circumstances. Our minimum requirements will apply if you:

  • live in an area within the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation lowest 20% (SIMD20), or
  • are care experienced.

We can also make exceptions for some Scottish students with grades above minimum but below standard. Read more about our Minimum and standard entry requirements

Year 2

  • Advanced Highers BB plus Highers AABB
  • A-Levels ABB
  • Int. Baccalaureate 34 points
  • HNC A in graded unit (in a relevant subject area)
  • HND BB in graded units (in a relevant subject area)
  • BTEC DDM (in a relevant subject)
  • Global College Successful completion of our Engineering with Accelerator Programme

Year 3

HND AB in graded units (in a relevant subject area)

Additional information

English language requirements

  • If English is not your first language, you have to show that your English is good enough to succeed on your course. Please see our English language requirements.


Tuition fees for 2024 entry
Status* Scotland England / Wales / N Ireland / Rep of Ireland International**
Fee Paid by SAAS £9,250 £19,744

* Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.

** 'International' includes applicants from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in UK. (This does not include students from the Republic of Ireland - see above). Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

Additional costs

You may incur additional costs in the course of your studies at Heriot-Watt over and above tuition fees in an academic year. Depending on your programme of study, these may include: protective equipment, field trips, professional memberships, studio fees, required course texts or other study resources.

Scholarships and bursaries

Featured scholarships

Bursaries for students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales

In addition to government loans and grants towards the costs of fees and living costs, we are offering generous financial support to attract and support eligible undergraduate students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales:

  • Heriot-Watt University Bursary (up to £3,100 per year)
View details about the Heriot-Watt University Bursary

View our full range of undergraduate scholarships.