Prospective Students - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Prospective Students

What is Geography?

Geography is a distictive discipline and one with a special place in the university. It encourages students to take a holistic view of the world and their place in it: it's about putting knowledge together, rather then taking it apart. It focuses on the relationships between people, their places and their environments, and the ways in which these can be made more sustainable for the future.

Scholarships for Undergraduate Study

    1. Students intending to major in Geography can apply for a $5000 Pownall scholarship for 100 level study (deadline: 15th August in the year before commencing study). There are also a wide range of other scholarships for undergraduate study at UC.


Student Stories

Listen to why Kieran Howden decided to do Geography.

Geography students setup a climate station in the Cass Mountain Research Area

Students at Cass

See full story here

Undergraduate Studies

We offer a wide range of undergraduate courses towards BA, BSc and BEd degrees, with about six hundred students being enrolled across 100, 200 and 300 levels. Canterbury degrees are unit-based: most students do no more than half their degree in any one subject. Those who wish to specialise can focus exclusively on Geography at 300 level, and do graduate coursework if they wish.

Our three 100 level courses take some of the big themes in Geography and explore them in some depth.  GEOG 106: Global Environmental Change, develops an understanding of the nature of major environmental changes at the global scale and to discuss's a range of management strategies to improve societal resilience. Among the types of issues considered are population growth, food security, land degradation, global climate change and peak oil.

GEOG109 Physical Geography: Earth, Ocean, Atmosphere, gives an introduction to physical geography at University level. The course covers environmental process theory as well as the technical skills needed to monitor and model environmental change. It examines the forces that control Earth systems, with case studies of three main sub-systems: the atmosphere and climate, the oceans and their coastal fringes, and high-energy terrestrial landscapes such as mountains.

Places are always restless and changing. The dynamism of place is obvious in cities such as Auckland, Sydney and Los Angeles, but it is also important in smaller communities. GEOG110 Human Geography: People, Process, Place, draws on the insights of human geography to deepen our understanding of how places are made and inhabited. It examines the economic, social and cultural aspects of contemporary places and also considers their resilience and sustainability.

Having got a good grounding at 100 level, you can develop your geographical training at 200 and 300 levels by taking a wide range of courses or by specialising in one or more of the four pathways that are used to structure Canterbury¹s teaching in Geography. 

The pathways are:

  1. Physical geography
  2. Human geography
  3. GeoSpatial Science
  4. Resource and Environmental Management

Postgraduate Studies

Postgraduate coursework students are spread across a range of courses in physical and human geography, GIS, remote sensing, and in resource assessment and management. Usually there are between 25 and 30 coursework students in Geography, with half as many again coming in to take particular papers from other departments.

Image of UC campus
UC Campus with Southern Alps in background

Thesis students are either engaged in Masters degrees or PhDs. Currently there are between 30 and 40 thesis students working in the department. The South Island is an ideal laboratory for many fields of physical geography, such as climate, coastal and alpine studies. New Zealand, with its history of experimentation in economic and environmental management, social relations and land rights, also has some specific human geographies that repay close research.

Academic Visitors to Geography

Geography has a number of adjunct fellows, postdoctoral fellows, and a steady stream of visitors, all of whom add to the intellectual life of the department and work closely with graduates (current visitors). The University’s Erskine Fund pays for three prestige visitors to spend periods of up to a semester with us each year, and the department also pays for its own visiting lecturer from overseas for each academic year (list of past and present Erskines, visitors and post docs).

Scholarships and Prizes