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Information for graduates and employees

Accreditation is one of the ways for a university to receive independent recognition that the knowledge, skills and other attributes expected of high quality geography graduates are being delivered.

Undergraduate programmes

The QAA Subject Benchmark Statement for Geography defines the geographical knowledge, understanding, skills and approaches obtained by sucessfully completing an undergraduate geography degree.

Geography is a broad subject, and its core constituents may be approached and delivered through a number of routes. Providers offering degree programmes are free to decide upon the details of content and organisation in their courses, because a valued characteristic of the subject is its plurality of ways of knowing and understanding the world, including via individual specialisms. Students graduating from accredited degree programmes should be able to demonstrate:

  • Proven practical experience, from the field and other experiential learning opportunities

  • Skills in, and knowledge of, a range of methodological approaches

  • The capacity for independent study and research

  • Substantive depth of knowledge in a sub-field of the discipline, including appropriate skills to support that knowledge

  • Effective communication to a range of audiences

  • A range of academic and transferable skills, such as the ability to find and interpret information, and make use of a range of information and communication technologies

  • The development of a range of personal attributes and qualities relevant to the world beyond higher education

During the accreditation process, the course’s content and delivery is independently assessed by a peer review panel (of academics and professionals using geography in their careers) in terms of the geographical knowledge, understanding, skills, approaches and other attributes graduates will acquire.

Geography graduates consistently report rates of unemployment six months after graduation lower than the average for all subjects (HECSU). For graduates, an accredited course may be a foundation for a career path leading to professional registration or recognition, for example Chartered Geographer.


Master's programmes

The study undertaken for Master’s degrees is at, or informed by, the forefront of an academic or professional discipline. Successful students demonstrate:

  • Originality in the application of knowledge

  • An understanding of how the boundaries of knowledge are advanced through research

  • Ability to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively

  • Originality in tackling and solving problems

  • The qualities needed for employment in circumstances requiring sound judgement, personal responsibility and initiative in complex professional environments.

Compared with first degrees (including integrated Master’s programmes), Master’s degrees are characterised by an increased intensity, complexity and density of study. Master’s degrees typically include planned intellectual progression that often includes a synoptic/research or scholarly activity; much more so than undergraduate programmes.

Geographical Master’s degrees typically focus on a specific, contemporary sub-discipline or area of professional practice within the subject more broadly. Programmes are not expected to incorporate the breadth of geography as a whole, but are expected to develop a depth of understanding of geographical issues relevant to the context of a particular sub-discipline.


Remember: Our programme accreditation scheme is voluntary and optional. This means that some UK geography programmes aren’t accredited even if they meet the criteria, or they may be accredited by other organisations. There are many excellent degree programmes delivered by UK universities which do not have accreditation.