Undergraduate study in Geography

Field trip to the Mountains, biology

We offer a wide range of undergraduate courses and have about 600 undergraduate students. UC 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.

Our three 100-level courses take some of the big themes in Geography and explore them in depth. This grounding allows you to develop your geographical training at 200 and 300-levels by taking a wide range of courses or by specialising in one or more of our four offered pathways: Physical geography, Human geography, GeoSpatial Science, and Resource and Environmental Management.

Geography at UC is both a Science and an Arts subject, meaning you can major as either a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts. This gives you the flexibility to create a degree that fits your needs and interests. Majoring in Geography offers qualifications at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

  • Students intending to major in Geography can apply for a $5000 Pownall Scholarship for 100-level study (deadline: 15 August in the year before commencing study)
  • Search the UC Scholarships database for the full list of available scholarships and prizes

Key undergraduate Geography scholarships

Find out more about scholarships available to College of Science students

Geographic Information Science uses software such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to collect, manage, analyse and display geographic information. GIS technology is increasingly pervasive in other software environments.

The growth of this area means GIS skills will be invaluable to your future career. Find out more about GIS.

Geography facilitates learning through community engagement where possible, and opportunities exist for this at all levels. Find out more about community engagement.

The ability to think in holistic and integrated ways gives our graduates an edge in the job market.

Using a Geography degree

Geography graduates are characterised by their ability to synthesise complex information to address specific problems - a skill that is increasingly valued as knowledge shifts and jobs are no longer jobs for life. Geography prepares you for the flexibility required in the contemporary workplace.

We emphasise the development of transferable skills, such as oral and written communication and self-driven learning. At the same time, you will acquire the important 'disciplinary skills', like a scientific approach to analysis of environmental variables, the ability to bring these together, and means of appreciating the crucial human element in the relations between people, place and environment.

Broad industry opportunities

Geography graduates' skills are valued in a range of industries in New Zealand and abroad, including:

  • Air quality control
  • Environmental planning
  • Natural resource management
  • Transport 
  • Water and aquatic life

In fact Geographers are now recognised globally as among the most employable graduates.

Resource management is a major avenue of employment for geographers, in both local and regional councils and the private sector.

Many geography graduates are also employed in other fields in local and central government - in policy development and analysis, and in planning jobs - in agencies as diverse as Treasury, the State Services Commission, ACC, Social Welfare and Education.

Many also work in the private sector, for instance using their Geographic Information Systems training. Teaching in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors is also a popular career path.

Examples of recent Geography-related jobs

Geographers were recruited for the following jobs in recent years:

  • Aquatic Ecosystem Health Officer - ECAN
  • Water Quality Officer - ECAN
  • Water and Coastal Resources Team Leader - Gisborne District Council
  • Natural Hazards Analyst - Environment Canterbury
  • Zone Manager - Coromandel - Waikato Regional Council
  • Team Leader - Catchment Management - Waikato Regional Council
  • Coastal Advisor - Consents and Compliance - Auckland Council
  • Graduate Research Fellowship in Hydrologic Sciences or Geological Sciences - Desert Research Institute and University of Nevada Reno
  • Spatial Data Scientist - Landcare Research
  • Team Leader, Aquatic Ecosystems and Quality - Greater Wellington Regional Council
  • Junior Quality Assurance Analyst Fixed-term position - Trimble
  • Graduate Support Advisor - Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority
  • National Infrastructure Unit – Senior Analyst and Analyst
  • Environmental Protection Officer - Horizons Regional Council
  • Adviser/Senior Adviser(s) GIS and Spatial Analysis Biosecurity Surveillance - MAF
  • Coastal Ecologist - Environment Waikato
  • Advisor and Assistant Advisor - NZ Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa
  • Mapping Project - Landcare Research
  • Business Services Officer - Spatial Information - DOC
  • Department of Geography - University of Regina
  • Social Scientist - Hazards, Planning and Environment
  • Transportation Planner / Engineer - Christchurch
  • GIS/Transportation Planner - Christchurch
  • Senior Coastal Planner - Design the Future of the Bay of Plenty’s Coast
  • DOC Ranger, Visitor Project Planner - Greymouth Office
  • Lecturer in Climatology - University of Otago
  • Team Leader, Stack, Odour and Workplace Monitoring - Watercare Services Ltd, Auckland
  • GIS Analyst - Environment Canterbury
  • Consents Officer - The West Coast Regional Council
  • Researcher - University of Miami (Oct 07)
  • Apiha Kaupapa Taiao - Policy/Research Officer
  • Data Compiler - Antarctica NZ
  • Consents Officer - West Coast Regional Council
  • Network Analyst - National Operations, Early Childhood & Regional Education
  • Student Internship / Environmental Research Opportunity
  • Environment Canterbury – Summer Jobs for Students
  • Student Applications | Land Resources Assistant
  • Senior Environmental Resource Officer – Coastal
  • Environmental Planner - Environmental Policy at Environment Waikato
  • Environmental Planner - Coastal at Environment Waikato
  • Environmental Technician - National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd, Auckland
  • Environmental Planner - Environmental Policy at Environment Waikato
  • Environmental Planner - Coastal at Environment Waikato
  • Assistant Tester - temporary position (three months)
  • Environment Canterbury - GIS Officer - fixed term - part/full time
  • Strategic Policy Analyst (aquaculture) at Auckland
  • Regional Council Development Officer (wind farming) based in Queenstown
  • URS New Zealand - Environmental Consultant, Air Quality
  • Environmental Officer - Antarctica NZ
  • GIS Graduate - Avon-Heathcote Ihutai Trust (AHEIT)
  • Part Time - Mapworld
  • Urban Development Strategy forum and communications group - Creative Business Solutions Ltd
  • Monitoring and Research Team - Christchurch City Council
  • Environment Engineer - Air Quality Specialist
  • Air Quality Scientist/Technical Specialist - The Auckland Regional Council - New Zealand
  • Air Quality - Department Head (Laboratory) Auckland, NZ
  • Air Quality Scientist - URS - Melbourne, Vic
  • Air Quality Specialist - Tonkin Consulting.
  • Geography and Games Assistant St Paul’s School, London
  • Environmental Officer - Strategic Projects Co-ordinator - Department of Environment - Perth, WA Air Quality Management Branch
  • Senior Environmental Officer - Department of Environment - WA
  • Cultural heritage management support - Auckland Regional Council
  • Air Quality Specialist Environmental Protection Agency
  • Entry Level Advisors - Ministry for the Environment
  • Post Doctoral Researcher Air Quality/Atmospheric Science - NIWA
  • Air Quality Specialist – Team Leader - URS Environmental and Engineering Professional Services
  • Technician, Air Quality, Resource Investigations - Greater Wellington Regional Council
  • Operations | Passenger Services Operations Planner
  • Scientist/Engineer– Air Quality- EPA’s Air Quality Studies Unit
  • Air Quality Scientist/Engineer - Pacific Air and Environment Pty Ltd
  • Atmospheric Scientists / Air Quality Consultants - Heggies Australia Pty Ltd
  • Ambient Air Quality Team Leader - Watercare Services Limited
  • Data Acquisition Officer - Terralink, Wellington
  • EPA Victoria has a number of job vacancies:
  • Principal Scientist (Air Quality) - The QLD Environmental Protection Agency
  • Source Emission Monitoring Officer - Emission Testing Consultants Pty Ltd
  • 2 Environmental Officers - Department of Environment, Western Australia
  • Spatial Applications Specialist - Environment Bay of Plenty Regional Council
  • Social Researcher - Appleyards Limited
  • GIS Analyst - Watercare Services - Auckland City
  • Geospatial Analyst - Joint Geospatial Support Facility - Naval Base Devonport
  • Research Data Analyst - MFish - Wellington
  • Environmental Scientist or Engineer - The Odour Unit Pty Ltd
  • Research Officer/Postdoctoral Research Fellow/Research Fellow - School of Geography, Planning and Architecture - Uni of Queensland
  • Postgraduate Research Scholarships (x2) (Urban Modelling) - School of Geography, Planning and Architecture - Uni of Queensland
  • Post Doctoral Fellow - Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies
  • Oceans Science Project Officer - Australian Government, National Ocean Office
  • Post Doctoral Fellow - Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies
  • Research Associate, GIS and Health (2 Posts) - University of Canterbury
  • Enforcement Officer - Christchurch City Council
  • Senior Technical Officer, Ambient Air Monitoring - ECOWISE Environmental
  • Scientific Officer, Social Science - Department of Conservation
  • Researcher - The Online Encyclopedia
  • Senior Technical Officer - Ambient Air Monitoring, ECOWISE Environmental
  • Air Quality - Victorian EPA
  • GIS/Graphics Technician

For information and advice contact our Level Co-ordinators.

Explore our ever-changing world

Places are always restless and changing, so we draw on the insights of human geography to deepen our understanding of how places are made and inhabited. Students examine the economic, social and cultural aspects of contemporary places and also consider their resilience and sustainability.

See our students and staff in action

Need more information about Geography at UC?

Speak to our undergraduate co-ordinators