We may have GPS, but the world still needs explorers, researchers, mappers, data gatherers and problem solvers. Two experts in the field give their elevator pitch for why Geography is cool and where studying it can take you

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Alice Mollison is Assistant Head and teaches Geography at JAGS

Alice Mollison is Assistant Head, Head of Teaching & Learning and teacher of Geography at James Allen’s Girls’ School. She studied at Edinburgh University and her favourite topic is Glaciation. She was once snowed in while camping on Tien Shan glacier in Kazakhstan and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

What makes Geography so brilliant?

The physical and human world of today is constantly changing. It is crucial for current and future generations to understand these trends and flows so that purposeful actions and decisions can be made. Geography is the subject that helps make sense of all aspects of the world.

What made you choose it?

I loved having the opportunity to study a really broad subject, which incorporated fields such as geology, ecology and economics. And the trips are, of course, always fun!

Transferable skills and knowledge acquired?

Geography helps you to develop excellent decision making and research skills, use statistics to make sense of data and use computers to collect, present and analyse information. You’ll be studying global trade one day and the science of earthquakes the next! 

What pathways does it open?

At A level, its breadth means it complements any subject combination. Contemporary research and themes regularly filter down from universities and become part of subject teaching at school, particularly in human geography. A huge range of doors will be opened with a Geography degree, from being a geo-scientist designing a wind farm, to working in finance or law, to marketing. I worked in advertising before training to be a teacher.

2 things students might not realise Geography covers

Themes such as human rights and diversity help young people to further their understanding of issues at a local and global scale.

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Victoria Burton is Head of Geography at St Edmund’s Canterbury

Victoria Burton is Head of Geography at St Edmund’s Canterbury. She studied at Newcastle University and is most fond of Physical Geography. She becomes “disproportionately excited” about glaciers and has a soft spot for the late health professor and data visualisation developer Hans Rosling.

What makes Geography so brilliant?

It is everything that has gone before and everything that is to come. It unlocks secrets and solves puzzles. It makes you ask and answer questions, find patterns, identify problems, work solutions. With every news item – from questions of immigration to climate change to covid patterns – geographers are quietly sitting in the background of every decision that matters. Who gets the aid, where to build that stadium, how to find those survivors?  It is in all times and all places. 

What made you choose it? 

I like a map.

Transferable skills and knowledge acquired? 

Geographers are literate, numerate, computer skilled, team players, independent learners, researchers, analysts, scientists, problem solvers, creative thinkers and often look splendid in corduroy.

What pathways does it open? 

Far more than you might imagine. Very few of us are teachers.  Most become urban designers, political analysts, peace negotiators, MPs, (Prime Ministers!), economists, accountants, vulcanologists, software designers, vets, doctors, epidemiologists…

2 things students might not realise Geography covers

Piracy and Mars landings – Geography is brilliant. 

Elevator pitch: Why study Geography?
Prince William studied Geography at University of St Andrews


Famous Geography students: Michael Jordan, HRH Duke of Cambridge, Theresa May

*Top spots for degrees: St Andrews, London School of Economics, Glasgow, Durham, UCL

*Source: Guardian The best UK universities 2021. Note: Cambridge and Oxford ranked (1, 3) but with no student satisfaction ratings.

Where geographers hang out: Royal Geographical Society, founded 1830 and with headquarters in South Kensington. Find London, regional and online events at rgs.org  

Further reading: Hampstead Fine Arts College on the value of vocational subjects