Human Geography MSc


Fact file

MSc Human Geography
1 year full-time
Entry requirements
2.1(Upper 2nd class hons degree or international equivalent)
Other requirements
6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
University Park
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


The MSc Human Geography is an ESRC-recognised masters course that covers current themes in critical human geography and research methods for social scientists.
Read full overview

Our MSc Human Geography course covers current themes in critical human geography and research methods for social scientists. It provides students with a thorough grounding in key developments in contemporary human geography, as well as advanced level training in geographical research methods, research design, and broader social science concepts and intellectual traditions.

The school has world-recognised expertise in cultural, historical, economic and medical geography along with environmental history. Plus, our academics have received accolades for their research from institutions such as the British Medical Association and the Royal Academy.

Key facts

  • 75% of our research was rated as 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' in the most recent Research Excellence Framework in 2014
  • We were rated 'excellent' in the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) assessment of teaching provision
  • We are ranked 39th worldwide for Geography according to QS World University Rankings by subject 2016

Course details

This programme can be studied full-time over one year, or part-time over two years.

It requires you to complete 120 credits of core and optional modules, before undertaking a supervised dissertation. 



Core modules

Critical Human Geography

The module introduces students to a range of philosophical approaches and current research themes within human geography. It enables them to integrate questions of theory and empirical research, each stage of the module stressing the philosophy underpinning the research under discussion, and the cultural and political contexts of the research.

Key thematic issues structure the module, including geographical understandings of culture and economy, and the geographies of nature. Each section of the module integrates historical and contemporary understanding, emphasising the distinctive contribution made by human geography in thinking spatially, while at the same time highlighting geography's relationship to the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities. 

This module aims to:

  • give an understanding of the theoretical basis of critical human geography, showing how and why ideas have developed, and how these ideas have been applied in the analysis of particular subject matter
  • understand the relationship of critical human geography to other areas of geography, and to subjects across the humanities and social sciences
Dissertation: Human Geography

Building directly on the work undertaken in the Research Design module, this module requires the student to write a substantive research dissertation on a subject chosen following discussion with a nominated supervisor.

This module aims for students to:

  • devise and carry out a substantial piece of empirical research on an approved topic consistent with the requirements of a masters level degree
  • demonstrate an ability to undertake a substantial project based on empirical research informed by relevant theoretical literature
  • demonstrate a range of appropriate methodologies and research techniques
  • produce a clearly written, appropriately illustrated and properly references report
Geographical Research Methods

This module is split into three major sections:

  • Quantitative Methods: An introduction to parametric and non-parametric statistics and the use of databases and statistical packages.
  • Social Research Methods: An introduction to the philosophical and analytical issues that lie behind designing social research methods. A range of social research methods are considered in terms of their approach, design, implementation and analysis.
  • GIS: An introduction to the technologies of GIS. It covers the design and operation of these systems and how they are used as decision support tools. The material also covers the concept of modelling and what issues the user must be aware of in evaluating model outputs.

This module aims to:

  • offer an understanding of the issues and techniques surrounding the handling of quantitative and qualitative data in the social and environmental sciences
  • provide practical experience of key quantitative and qualitative techniques in geography
Space and Social Theory

The module provides an introduction to space and social theory. It is compulsory for masters students taking the ESRC 1+3 route. 

The module will provide an introduction to a range of theoretical approaches within the social sciences, focusing upon the work of selected thinkers. The model will take the form of fortnightly seminars, focusing upon the work of some of the following (and others), and its relationship to geographical research:

  • Haraway
  • Harvey
  • Foucault
  • Latour
  • Said
  • Comte
  • Polanyi

This module aims to:

  • give an understanding of the main theories and philosophies of social science, showing how and why ideas have developed, and how these ideas have been applied in the analysis of particular subject matter
  • seek to understand the relationship of philosophy and social theory to human geography, and its impact upon research

Optional modules

Students not on the ESRC DTC pathway must take:

Research Design B

The module takes the form of weekly seminars in which the following topics are covered: 

  • Introduction to research design
  • 'Subjects' and research
  • Research methods
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Group project
  • Evaluating qualitative research
  • Writing strategies
  • Research plans for dissertations

Students write a report on their group project. They also write a full research plan, and make an individual presentation of this plan.

This module aims to:

  • provide an introduction to research design skills
  • provide students with a thorough grounding in research techniques for the masters dissertation research

Students select 30 credits of optional modules either provided by the School of Geography, or in other Social Science schools across the University, following agreement by the Course Director and Geography DTC pathway leaders.

Students on the ESRC DTC pathway must take: 

Philosophy of Research - Social Science

This module splits into three key parts:

  • Science and the philosophical critique of science
  • Epistemological debates in the social sciences 
  • The funding environment - interdisciplinarity and the impact agenda

This module aims to:

  • enable students to analyse the epistemological and ontological issues that arise from different social and philosophical theories and their impact on social research methodologies
Research Design A

The module takes the form of weekly seminars, in which the following core topics are covered:

  • Introduction to research design
  • Research ethics
  • Writing strategies
  • Research plans for dissertations
  • Positionality and reflexivity

This module aims to:

  • provide an introduction to research design skills within the discipline of geography
  • thoroughly prepare students for the dissertation


The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



Up-to-date fees information can be found on our student fees and finance website.

UK/EU students

Generally, postgraduate students are responsible for arranging their own funding to cover fees and living expenses. However, in some cases, funding is available - the key is to apply early for your course, giving yourself the maximum amount of time to track down funding. See the school's funding webpage for further details.

The MSc in Human Geography is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council as providing 1+3 Research Training leading on to PhD study. Guidance and advice will be provided by the school in completing the applications. Forms and more information will be available online through the ESRC website.

For further information for UK/EU students visit the University's postgraduate funding webpage.

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Applications for 2016 entry scholarships will open in late 2015. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.



Graduates from this programme have gone on to pursue a wide range of successful careers in diverse areas including the high-tech, consultancy, and financial services industries as well as in public sector fields such as the National Health Service. Some have also gone on to study a PhD.

A postgraduate qualification from The University of Nottingham shows potential employers that you are an intelligent, hard-working individual who is bright and flexible enough to undertake any form of specific career training.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2014, 100% of postgraduates in the School of Geography who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £22,375 with the highest being £26,000*.

* Known destinations of full-time home and EU postgraduates, 2013/14.

Career prospects and employability

Our award-winning Careers and Employability Service will help you to plan your career throughout your time at the University and beyond. 

Services available include:

  • Presentations and drop-in sessions with employers
  • One-to-one careers guidance and CV sessions with our advisers
  • Over 250 careers events
  • A specialist careers adviser for research postgraduates

All postgraduate students also become members of the Graduate School, which provides dedicated facilities and resources to enhance your postgraduate experience.



Postgraduate Administrator
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