Geography and Sociology, MA

Geography and Sociology, MA


Study Geography combined with Sociology allows you to study the earth and modern society evolution. If you are fascinated with natural science, social science, humanities and society, this course is for you.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
Pathway Programme Available
Undergraduate Foundation Programme

Geography is the study of the Earth's surface, with particular emphasis on the relationships between people and their environment. Few other subjects cover such a diversity of phenomena, combining elements of the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities.

Sociology is the study of modern societies and how they have evolved through time. At Aberdeen, you will gain a deep understanding of how society influences people. Throughout the programme, you will explore a range of different themes, including crime, religion, family and the state. The social awareness and analysis skills that you develop will help you prepare for a variety of interesting careers.

Human Geography at Aberdeen is ranked 1st in the UK for student satisfaction by the 2022 National Student Survey, with an overall satisfaction score of 100%.

What You'll Study

Year 1

Compulsory Courses

Academic Writing for Social Sciences (AW1006)

This compulsory evaluation is designed to find out if your academic writing is of a sufficient standard to enable you to succeed at university and, if you need it, to provide support to improve. It is completed on-line via MyAberdeen with clear instructions to guide you through it. If you pass the evaluation at the first assessment it will not take much of your time. If you do not, you will be provided with resources to help you improve. This evaluation does not carry credits but if you do not complete it this will be recorded on your degree transcript.

Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD1002)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 undergraduate students (and articulating students who are in their first year at the University), is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

Creating the Anthropocene (GG1010)

15 Credit Points

This course reflects upon the role humans have played in creating the Anthropocene (the epoch we are now living in), a time period during which human actions have become more significant than natural processes in shaping our world. Drawing primarily upon perspectives from physical and human geography, the nature of the changes, “how did we get here?”, are considered, laying the foundations for GG1512, in which “what comes after?” – how contemporary society is attempting to tackle Anthropocene challenges – is debated.

Introduction to Sociology I: Self, Identity & Society (SO1007)

15 Credit Points

Sociology is the study of human social groups. It particularly focuses on modern societies, analysing how they work and how the major social institutions in them (such as religion, the media, government and the economy) operate. The course provides students with a general introduction to the unique manner in which sociologists seek to understand contemporary societies. Students are presented with current and classical approaches to understanding the social processes that underlie self-construction, group formation and social interaction, within urbanizing and globalizing social contexts.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals: Transforming Our World (GG1512)

15 Credit Points

This course interrogates the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. These encompass contemporary global challenges such as responsible consumption and production, no poverty, clean water and climate action (challenges whose emergence is introduced in GG1010 Creating the Anthropocene). Drawing upon Human and Physical Geography perspectives, a ‘strong’ interpretation of sustainability, one where social and economic dimensions fundamentally rely on ecological foundations, underpins the course.

Introduction to Sociology II: Systems of Power (SO1509)

15 Credit Points

This course is an introduction to macro-sociology, which analyses the ways that people’s lives are shaped by large-scale forces, structures, and institutions. Students are introduced to the particular ways in which classical and contemporary sociologists understand social forces in the modern domestic and global environment and learn to think critically about those social forces that impact their everyday lives using the sociological imagination. Substantive topics likely to be covered in this course include the media, politics, religion, surveillance, education, class stratification, international inequalities, and the relationship between humans and other animals.

Optional Courses

Select a further 60 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 2

Compulsory Courses

Space, Economy and Society (GG2014)

15 Credit Points

GG2014 examines political, economic, social and cultural change from a geographical perspective. The course consists of five distinct blocks, each of which introduces a specific sub-field of human geography – economic, urban, tourism, cultural and social geography. As a team-taught course, it makes use of a range of concepts and uses case studies drawn from the staff’s own fields of research. As well as geography, the course is designed to be accessible and relevant to students from other arts and social science disciplines such as anthropology, business, economics, history, international relations and sociology.

Sociology of Everyday Life i: the Embodied Self (SO2006)

30 Credit Points

This follows on from level-one sociology. It is designed to highlight the ways that sociological theory informs the research endeavour, not only the questions sociologists raise, but also the particular modes through which we go about investigating them. The module examines these points in relation to a range of micro-level topics – the body, food and feeding, health and illness, the emotions, group behaviour, sex and gender, the life course and death and dying – all of which emphasise the nature of human interaction and sociological efforts to understand it.

Skills and Techniques in Geosciences (GG2508)

15 Credit Points

This course introduces students to a range of scientific and social scientific skills and techniques used in Geography. The course content builds towards a residential field trip that takes place in the Easter vacation. Past venues have included the Isles of Skye and Arran, the cities of Inverness and Stirling, and Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park. The trips enable students to put into practice the skills and techniques they have been taught through lectures and in workgroup sessions, and to conduct original research into geographical issues covered elsewhere on the programme.

Only available to students registered for programme year 2 of a Geography study aim or to students also taking at least 3 of GG2013, GG2014, GG2509 & GG2510

Sociology of Everyday Life II: Global Issues in the 21st Century (SO2509)

30 Credit Points

This macro-sociology course extends students’ understanding of large-scale social, as well as political and economic, processes and institutions. Particular focus is on the sociological analysis of global issues and socio-political controversies, many of which are subject to topical and, at times, contentious debate at the beginning of the 21st century. The substantive topics include areas of social and political concern such as globalisation; the changing nature of economy, work and leisure; risk and insecurity; multiculturalism; food production and security; social movements; nationalism and identities.

Optional Courses

Select two of the following:

  • Physical Environments (GG2013)
  • Environment and Society (GG2509)
  • Mapping and Monitoring the Environment (GG2510)
Physical Environments (GG2013)

15 Credit Points

This course provides an understanding of environmental processes and landscape change through time and space. The course places Physical Geography as an integral component of Earth System Science. The first half of the course explores physical environmental processes, whilst the second focuses on evidence of environmental change across a range of temporal and spatial scales. Three themes of glaciology, hydrology and palaeoecology will be explored to illustrate the linkages and interactions between process and form over a range of temporal and spatial scales. The course is team-taught by staff with an emphasis on using examples from recent research projects.

Environment and Society (GG2509)

15 Credit Points

Interactions between human society and our environment have never been more complex or more critical in order to place us on a pathway to more sustainable future. This course explores the diverse approaches and perspectives that help us think about, explain and address all of the environmental challenges that we face in the 21st century. Students will be introduced to these approaches and perspectives and will have the opportunity to apply them across a range of regional and global environmental issues such as climate change, sustainable tourism, the energy crisis and the ozone hole.

Mapping and Monitoring the Environment (GG2510)

15 Credit Points

In a digital era of GPS navigators and many online map tools (e.g. Google Maps), there is an increase demand for professionals able to understand and manipulate geographical data and use these to monitor processes at various scales. The course provides a solid background in the acquisition of geographical data, both onshore and offshore with classic field-based and remote sensing techniques. It covers the creation and interpretation of maps and looks at the history of remote sensing and its science as well as providing the essential basis to understanding what a Geographical Information System is.

Year 3

Compulsory Courses

Approaches to Geography (GG3071)

15 Credit Points

This core course is designed to introduce Honours students to key debates on the nature and scope of academic geography. Geographers past and present have studied a huge variety of phenomena using a variety of tools to investigate their subject. This course will help you understand this diversity. Topics include: the changing meaning of the 'environment'; the use and abuse of statistical analysis; the influence of left-wing and post-modern perspectives, and the role of technology. Students may specialise in particular aspects, or mix-and-match across the breadth of the discipline, as you wish.

Optional Courses

Select ONE from EACH of the following options:

  • Social Research Methods (SO3524) OR Ten Sociological Studies (SO3568)
  • Thinking Sociologically (SO3066) OR Sociology of Religion (SO3070)

Plus further credit points from level 3 or 4 courses in Geography to gain a total of 60 credits in the discipline.

NOTE: If you intend to take your dissertation in Geography you must take GG3574 Research Design in programme year 3.

Social Research Methods (SO3524)

30 Credit Points

Sociologists use a range of methods and techniques to explore and test sociological theory. This module introduces many of these methods and techniques. It aims to ground students’ theoretical understanding of society through the practical analysis of a variety of data. It starts by introducing the varying philosophical starting points of research and goes on to provide foundation level critical analysis skills in the key quantitative and qualitative methods that sociologists have deployed to understand and ‘capture’ the social world.

Ten Sociological Studies (SO3568)

30 Credit Points

This course bridges the theoretical emphasis of SO3066 and the methodological elements of SO3524. It presents sociology as a social science by having students examine and discuss in detail ten reports of sociological research. The goal of the course is to highlight the different ways sociological research combines theory and methods to examine and explain specific phenomena, events, or experiences of the world. Each of the ten studies will be chosen by one of the Sociology staff and present theoretical and methodological ideas and approaches that staff members use in their own work or believe to be pivotal to sociological research. Students will be required to read all ten of the chosen publications in preparation for the course each week.

Thinking Sociologically (SO3066)

30 Credit Points

Thinking Sociologically is the department's core sociological theory module. The course offers our students an introduction to a range of key sociological thinkers and bodies of thought, both classical and contemporary, that inform sociological analysis of social life and social institutions. As such, this course is intended to provide our honours students with a conceptual 'toolkit', that can be applied to facilitate understanding, insight and informed critique with respect to a broad range of historical and contemporary social, political and economic phenomena.

Sociology of Religion (SO3070)

30 Credit Points

This course provides students with an introduction to the sociological imagination as applied to the topic of religion. While the focus is on religion, it uses religion as means of thinking about core sociological concepts and key social processes, as well as the challenges to studying the world sociologically. We will discuss the key dimensions of religious belief, practice and institutions, and what we can learn from these that can be adapted and applied to other kinds of beliefs, practices and institutions.

Research Design (GG3574)

15 Credit Points

This core course builds on GG2508 to provide an introduction to the conduct of research in the Geosciences at an advanced level. It is intended to familiarise students with the skills necessary to design, implement and write up effective research. These skills will support work on undergraduate dissertations and other project work. The course also introduces careers research skills, and explores how you can best make use of your degree in the 'real world' after graduation: workshops run in partnership with the University's Career Service provide practical advice and training on how best to develop your career.

Year 4

Optional Courses

Select ONE of the following dissertation options:

  • Research Project Part 1 (SO4068) AND Research Project Part 2 (SO4568) AND Geographical Issues (GG4537)
  • Geography Dissertation (GG4023)

NOTE: If you choose to take GG 4023 Geography Dissertation, you are not required to take GG 4537 Geographical Issues but may take both courses if you wish.

NOTE: You are required to gain a minimum of 90 credit points from level 4 courses.

Plus further credit points from level 3 or 4 course(s) in Geography to gain a total of 60 credits in the discipline.

Further credit points from level 4 course(s) in Sociology (from the list below) to gain a total of 60 credits in the discipline.

  • Sociology of Religion & Culture (SO4058)
  • SO4065 Animals and Society
  • SO4070 Peace, Conflict and Society
  • SO4554 Political Sociology
  • SO4565 Sex, Death and the Afterlife
  • SO4571 Contemporary Perspectives on Race and Ethnicity
Research Project Part 1 (SO4068)

30 Credit Points

This course is the first of two courses that comprise the Dissertation in Sociology. This first course affords students an opportunity to apply their sociological knowledge and research skills to an individual piece of research, focusing on a topic selected by the student and ethically approved by their Supervisor. Over the course of SO4068, with guidance from a member of staff, the project student will formulate an appropriate research question(s), conduct a critical literature review of relevant material, select appropriate research methods and prepare appropriate data collection tool(s) in order to commence their (online) research by the end of this course. Students will also get the opportunity to reflect on their presentation skills and prepare a 5-minute Panopto video on their project design for peer review. Particular emphasis will be given to helping students develop time management skills, a key transferable skill.

Geographical Issues (GG4537)

30 Credit Points

This core, 'capstone' course is designed to develop further students' critical understanding of the contemporary intellectual and real-world contexts in which the academic discipline of geography - and its graduates! - operates. The course involves the preparation of seminar presentations and short papers on a series of issues pertinent to contemporary geography. This work should showcase new philosophies and methodologies; and/or the relationships between geography and other academic disciplines; and/or applications of academic geography to real-world problems. Students also consider how they can best make use of their degree after graduation, with preparation of a reflective, career-planning report.

Geography Dissertation (GG4023)

30 Credit Points

The Honours dissertation provides students with the opportunity to produce a piece of independent and original research on an approved topic. Advanced level knowledge of a sub-area of the discipline is developed through independent study supervised by a member of academic staff. This course is compulsory for any students completing a single Honours degree in Geography and for any joint Honours student who has not registered to complete a dissertation in their other Honours subject.

Research Project Part 2 (SO4568)

30 Credit Points

In this course, project students, guided by regular staff supervision, build on the foundations developed in SO4068 to conduct their original research and deliver their conclusions in two formats. All students will present their developing work to peers in a multi-day student conference early in the semester and submit a final report of their work (i.e. project dissertation) at the end of the course.

European Societies (SO4051)

30 Credit Points

The course aims to give an overview of European issues and current debates. It provides a deeper insight into how European issues affect our lives and why this matters. It addresses current issues of concern such as Brexit, migration, Coronavirus, family and work in comparative perspective. In doing so it blends together sociological and social policy approaches.

Sexualities and Gender Diversity (SO4072)

30 Credit Points

This course provides students with theoretical and empirical understanding of sexualities and gender diversity in contemporary societies, paying particular attention to the historical conditions that have shaped how we conceptualise and experience sexualities and genders today. By mapping interconnections between wider power relations, and individual identities and bodies, it examines the intersectional ways in which sexualities and gender diversity are expressed, represented, and regulated.

Politics and Religion (SO4557)

30 Credit Points

Religion inspires political action, pervades national identities, and shapes political regimes. Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Nigeria, Mali, Syria; the conflicts in these countries all involve religious differences. Religion may be in decline in the West but even in Europe there are arguments about the proper place of religion and about religious exemptions from general laws. In the USA religious conservatives use the courts, state legislatures and Congress to fight against abortion and gay rights. Taking a very broad view of politics, this course examines the links between religion and politics.

Social Inequality (SO4569)

30 Credit Points

Inequality permeates all aspects of social life and structure. This course focuses on the major sociological approaches to the study of social inequality. Emphasising historical, social, and political processes, it utilises social science data and theory to explore key patterns and consequences of inequality in Scotland and beyond. In addition to examining distribution of income, it also focuses on occupational and class hierarchies, power conflicts, racial, ethnic, and gender inequality, poverty, social mobility, and inequality of educational opportunities.

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Field Trips
  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course;
  • practical assessments of the skills and competencies learnt on the course; and
  • written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, year of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Geography and Sociology?

Why Sociology

  • An international reputation for our sociology research, and recognised by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as a centre for research training and supervision for postgraduate students.
  • Teaching with a top rating of ‘Excellent’ in the most recent Teaching Quality Assessment.
  • Consistently rated very highly, including by students in the National Student Survey (NSS) from whom we get great feedback.
  • Sociology at Aberdeen is ranked 3rd in Scotland in the Complete University Guide 2024.
  • The spectacular, award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library with its top-class study environment, state-of-the-art technology, and extensive collection of sociology publications and resources for your study.
  • A packed programme of student and public events, lectures, exhibitions, seminars, invited speakers, plus the annual May Festival, British Science Week and Being Human Festival regularly featuring Aberdeen research in social sciences.
  • Participation in the European Social Survey, one of the largest and most reliable sources of data about Europeans’ attitudes, behaviours and experiences, with data from more than 350,000 individuals across 36 countries since 2002.

Why Geography

  • Our degree programmes focus upon the key environmental, economic, societal and technological challenges we currently face in the world, including climate change, sustainable development, social inequalities and environmental protection.
  • Human Geography at Aberdeen is ranked 1st in the UK for student satisfaction in the 2022 National Student Survey, with an overall satisfaction score of 100%.
  • Opportunity to study Geography from a social sciences/humanities perspective and/or a physical science perspective.
  • Aberdeen is a great place to study Geography, with the region's spectacular mountain and coastal areas, a vibrant city and rural communities, providing perfect field sites for the study of geography.
  • Our Royal Geographical Society accredited degree in Geography is designed to provide you with key skills and knowledge (e.g. data analysis, GIS) appreciated and often required by employers.
  • Extensive fieldwork options provide core skills for your future career, giving you vital transferable skills and experience of working in teams and independently in some of the world's most dynamic environments.
  • We have an engaging and very active Geography Society, where you can build your networks and enhance your employability.
  • Courses draw on our research in sustainability transitions, the use of digital technologies, conservation, land management, urban development. rural change, water management, climate change, glaciology, remote sensing and past environmental change.

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

General Entry Requirements

2024 Entry

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB

Applicants who achieve BB over S4 and S5 and who meet one of the widening access criteria are guaranteed a conditional offer. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.


Standard: BBB

Minimum: BBC

Adjusted: CCC

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see for more details.

2025 Entry

SQA Highers

Standard: BBBB

Applicants who have achieved BBBB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB

Applicants who achieve BB over S4 and S5 and who meet one of the widening access criteria are guaranteed a conditional offer. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

Foundation Apprenticeship: One FA is equivalent to a Higher at A. It cannot replace any required subjects.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.


Standard: BBC

Minimum: BCC

Adjusted: CCC

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see for more details.

The information displayed in this section shows a shortened summary of our entry requirements. For more information, or for full entry requirements for Arts and Social Sciences degrees, see our detailed entry requirements section.

English Language Requirements

To study for an Undergraduate degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.0 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 78 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 59 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 169 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

International Applicants who do not meet the Entry Requirements

The University of Aberdeen International Study Centre offers preparation programmes for international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements for undergraduate study. Discover your foundation pathway here.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
RUK £9,250
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year
EU / International students £20,800
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year
Home Students £1,820
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year

Scholarships and Funding

Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who pay tuition fees may be eligible for specific scholarships allowing them to receive additional funding. These are designed to provide assistance to help students support themselves during their time at Aberdeen.

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


There are many opportunities at the University of Aberdeen to develop your knowledge, gain experience and build a competitive set of skills to enhance your employability. This is essential for your future career success. The Careers and Employability Service can help you to plan your career and support your choices throughout your time with us, from first to final year – and beyond.

Our Experts

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.


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Geoscience Society

Geoscience Society

Student-led Geoscience society.

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Geography Field Trips

Geography Field Trips

The Geography degree takes students on a range of local, national and international field trips.

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Sir Duncan Rice Library

Sir Duncan Rice Library

The University’s award winning Sir Duncan Rice Library is listed in the “Top 20 spellbinding University libraries in the World”. It contains over a million volumes, more than 300,000 e-books and 21,000 journals.

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