St John’s College has a large community of Geography students.

We currently have two teaching Fellows in Geography, covering aspects of both Physical and Human Geography. There are also a number of graduate students doing Masters courses and Doctorates. The College has excellent library and computing facilities.

We provide financial support to help towards the cost of purchasing books that are essential for the course, and there are travel grants available to geographers to help to pay for long vacation projects. 

Undergraduate geographers run the Purchas Society (the College Geographical Society), which organises both academic meetings and social occasions.


The course in Geography

Undergraduates from all Colleges attend lecture courses, practicals and field classes organised by the Department of Geography. This teaching is supplemented by ‘supervisions’ organised by the College.

The Cambridge Geographical Tripos is in three parts:

  • Part IA is assessed partly by coursework but mainly through end-of-year examinations, and consists of two papers covering a broad range of topics in both physical and human geography. 
  • Part IB provides structured choice, enabling students to specialise to some extent in their preferred area, whether Human, Historical/Cultural or Physical Geography.
  • Part II provides free choice across a wide range of papers, and includes also a compulsory dissertation on a special topic chosen by the individual student.
Vacation Fieldwork

All students attend an overseas residential field course organised by the Department in the Easter vacation of their second year, usually in the Mediterranean area. In addition there may be the opportunity to join a course doing more specialised work, for example in Dublin (urban) or Iceland (geomorphological).

Many students also carry out independent travel in connection with their Part II dissertation: Johnian geographers have recently been to Peru, USA, Uganda and Thailand among other faraway places to do dissertation fieldwork.

Entry Details

UCAS Code: L700

Typical Entry Requirements

A Level: A*AA

International Baccalaureate: 42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

Essential/Desirable Subjects: None

Submitted Work: None

Interview Assessment: None

Admissions Interviews

Those invited for interview will usually have one interview with Director of Studies and a Teaching Fellow in Geography. The aim of the interview, which lasts for no more than 40 minutes, is to find out from you at first-hand about your motivation and aptitude for the course you have chosen. We conduct our interviews in a friendly and informal manner, and you should not feel daunted by the prospect of them. Although we will naturally want to discuss some technical and subject-related questions with you, no special preparation is necessary or indeed desirable.

We normally ask candidates to read a short extract from a geographical text immediately before the interview, which we will then ask you questions on in the interview. We also normally ask candidates to look at a graph, map, chart or other type of geographical data in the interview (time will be set aside for this), which again we ask questions about. As geography syllabuses vary between exam boards and for other types of qualifications, there are no set areas we ask candidates about, but we would typically ask questions around your interests in aspects of geography as discussed in your personal statement; aspects of the news or current affairs with geographical relevance; if you have written about any school project work on geography; or even places you have visited and your local home area.

We are looking for a wide but informed interest in geographical and other issues, and an awareness of the possibly unique perspective that a geographer can bring. Subjects within the broad geographical canon still excite us; we expect you to show a similar interest and passion.


Further Information

Further Information

A copy of Cambridge Geography, which describes the University Department, its staff, facilities and lecture courses, can be obtained from the Secretary of the Undergraduate School, Department of Geography, Downing Place, Cambridge, CB2 3EN; or you can visit their website.