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At NUI Galway, we believe that the best learning takes place when you apply what you learn in a real world context. That's why many of our courses include work placements or community projects.
Bachelor of Science in Geography and Geosystems
There is a growing demand for a work force literate in the scientific and geographic protocols used to advance environmental issues such as climate change, energy use, sustainable development, and policy. This new degree course will allow you to become an expert in many decision-making fields that now rely on a fundamental understanding of how human activities depend upon natural systems, through the interpretation of the scientific, spatial, and economic aspects of geographic principles and processes.
This new programme - beginning in 2020 - is aimed at motivated school leavers and mature students with a strong interest in how natural systems function and how the ecosystem goods and services provided by the environment are impacted by human activity.Interdisciplinarity at the heart of understanding human-nature interacting is reflected in the programme structure with the disciplines of Geography, Earth and Ocean Sciences, Botany & Plant Sciences, Mathematics, Statistics & Applied Mathematics, the School of Law, and the School of Political Science and Sociology coming together to deliver this innovative programme.
Fieldwork facilitates an understanding of geographic concepts in ways that the classroom cannot. The course therefore focuses on field-based learning to provide students with diverse opportunities to supplement their academic learning with hands-on research and technical experiences outside the classroom.
As a graduate of this programme, you will become an expert in human-environment relationships with a focus on the spatial dynamics of the natural world and the sustainable management of our natural resources.With this skill set you will be equipped to integrate scientific understanding into existing decision making processes.
Geography and Geosystems at the Virtual Open Day
Applications and Selections
Who Teaches this Course
Requirements and Assessment
Minimum Grade H5 in two subjects and passes in four other subjects at O6/H7 level in the Leaving Certificate, including Irish, English, Mathematics, a laboratory science subject (i.e. Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Physics with Chemistry (joint), Computer Science or Agricultural Science) and any two other subjects recognised for entry purposes.
Next start date
A Level Grades ()
Mode of study
Year One of the programme introduces students to the fundamental concepts that govern both Physical and Human Geography. In parallel, students will receive a foundational scientific understanding of principles that govern the natural world (e.g., Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics).
In Year Two, core modules focus on traditional Physical Geography (Climate, Biogeography, and Earth surface & interior processes) alongside introductions to Environmental Law and Statistics. In addition students will choose two of the four possible pathways:
Pathway 1: Coastal and Marine Sciences
This pathway allows students to become proficient in both Oceanography and Coastal Sciences with an option to enhance their knowledge of sedimentary systems. The provision of trained graduates in Marine and Coastal Sciences is essential to underpin Ireland’s use of national aquatic resources, as outlined in the Marine Knowledge, Research and Innovation Strategy 2017-2021, which highlights the renewed focus by the State on the value of the marine sector to the Irish economy.
Pathway 2: Ecosystem Sciences
This pathway reinforces the identification and evaluation of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Students taking this pathway will be able to perform in situ environmental assessment for a variety of physical settings and environments. These skills are all highly relevant for young professionals intending to work in the private or public institutions involved in research and monitoring of our coastal, marine, and terrestrial ecosystems (i.e., Marine Institute, EPA, BIM, GSI, NPWS, An Taisce, Environmental Consultancy, and county councils).
Pathway 3: Environmental Planning and Policy
This pathway will expose students to the role of environmental planning in policymaking. Students will be able to evaluate the relationships between environment and society at relevant local, national, and international scales. Students will apply various conceptual frameworks, including social-ecological systems and human-environment interaction theory, to explore and understand the importance of environmental planning. Students will learn about major national and EU policies how such legal bodies govern resource use and how they provide regulatory space for planning objectives. Finally, this pathway will train students to apply field-based assessments to develop conservation tools consistent with sustainable management.
Pathway 4: Palaeo-Sciences
This pathway exposes students to long-term environmental change and how it relates to modern environmental systems and issues. Gaining this long-term perspective provides students with an appreciation for the history of Earth’s dynamic systems, which is crucial if we want to understand and estimate future environmental change. Only by understanding the long-term effect of climate change, and human impacts on environmental systems (e.g. pollution of freshwater and marine environments) can we assess the potential future impact on ecosystem resilience and essential human infrastructure.
Study Abroad – Work Placement – Research Placement – Further Study
Semester 1: Core modules in Semester 1 focus on the introduction to GIS, alongside the development of career readiness and research design. These skills will support the student in Semester 2, regardless of their chosen pathway, and in Year Four, when they must apply their research and technical skills during their independent research projects.
Semester 2: The work placement or internship will enable students to apply their class-based skills critically in a real-world setting. Students will also have the option to travel to one of our partner universities abroad as part of the ERASMUS programme. Students opting to complement their portfolio with further studies will have the opportunity to enrol in modules from pathways and/or modules that they have not chosen in Year Two.
In Year Four, a large portion of the students’ efforts will be dedicated to an independent research project supervised by staff members in Geography. In parallel, students will further develop their GIS skills and advance their understanding in the pathways of their choices to deepen their knowledge and understanding in these areas.
Geography & Geosystems graduates will be equipped with the skills, knowledge and experience to undertake a wide range of research-based or taught postgraduate programmes. NUI Galway offers a diverse array of taught master’s degree programmes including:
- MSc Programme in Coastal and Marine Environments
- MSc programme in Environmental Leadership
- MSc in Biodiversity and Land-Use Planning
In the past number of years, the College has also pioneered the development of structured PhD programmes, which combine the traditional research dissertation of the PhD with generic and discipline-specific training modules designed to enhance students’ skills and employability.
Why Choose This Course?
Geography is crucial in informing genuine public concerns about environmental loss and degradation, as well as human-induced climate change. The Geography & Geosystems programme offers clear pathways that lead to an array of career opportunities across a wide range of interests including governmental, policy, and business sectors. Guidance will be offered throughout the programme to ensure students are undertaking the most appropriate modules for their own personal career goals and development.
Potential Career Pathways for graduates include:
- Geographic Information System analyst
- Environmental consultant
- Environmental education officer
- Environmental manager
- Nature conservation officer
- Sustainability consultant
- Waste management officer
- Water quality scientist
- Wildlife manager/ecologist
- Marine scientist
- Coastal manager
- Soil and plant scientist
- Earth Observation analyst
- Teaching (Geography)
- And others
Who’s Suited to This Course
In Year Three of the programme students have the option to participate in targeted work or research-based internships (January–August), study abroad, or enrol in further study at NUI Galway.
A dedicated member of staff coordinates and places every student within their selected sector and tailors their training and experience. Students will also undertake the module “Career Development and Readiness“, to prepare them for their future careers. There is considerable evidence that participating in professional work placements improves student performance in final year.
NUI Galway students have the opportunity to study at one of our many partner universities abroad as part of our ERASMUS programme. ERASMUS is popular because of the academic, social, personal and professional benefits it brings. There is considerable evidence that participating in ERASMUS improves student performance in final year.
Related Student Organisations
Fees: Student Contribution
Fees: Student levy
Fees: Non EU
EU Fees 2020/21:
- Tuition: may be paid by the Irish Government on your behalf see - free fee initiative.
- Student Contribution: €3,000 - payable by all students but may by paid by SUSI if you apply and are deemed eligible for a means tested SUSI grant.
- Student Levy: €224 - payable by all students and is not covered by SUSI.
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What Our Students Say
Lorna Dunne | 3BA Geography 2018/19
I know for a fact that modules like GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and undertaking my Research Dissertation during my final year as a Geography Student at NUI Galway have helped me to secure a position as a GIS Technician with Mallon Technology. Many of the skills that I acquired during my undergraduate degree like independent research and project design are exactly what most employers are searching for. I am looking forward to putting what I learned into practice.