Geography and environmental science

Geography is a subject that examines the relationship between people and places. It is about understanding how we impact the environment and how the environment impacts us. It is a discipline that encourages active participation in the environments in which we do our work whether it be through field trips, lab work, and/or experiments. Geography focuses on improving the environments that we live in so that we can plan change, monitor development, and improve the well-being of people, as well as the overall health of the environment. Geography is a truly interdisciplinary science, with connections to ecology, anthropology, zoology, and botany, among others. 

Environmental Science studies how the Earth’s human population has affected our planet in terms of resource expenditure, effects on ecosystems, pollution, and climate change -  as well as how we are ourselves fundamentally affected by the state of our planet. The ultimate goal for any Environmental Scientist is to seek better, more sustainable ways for us to live; including understanding the role of biodiversity and ecosystem services helping to support our ability to adapt and mitigate environmental change. We can do this by exploring, amongst other aspects,  renewable energy technologies, implementing industrial ecological techniques into our cities and studying ways to limit mechanisms of global significance, such as climate change and global warming. Alternatively, Environmental Scientists can play an important role in ensuring that industrial projects such as construction sites and mines comply fully with local environmental law, in order to ensure that they cause as little damage to the environment as possible. Additionally, Environmental Scientists can play an important role in the development of mitigation strategies that will limit environmental damage; as well as ensuring that both adaptation and mitigation strategies have multiple benefits, and are rooted in the best up to date scientific evidence.

Programmes in our department

  • BA specialising in Geographical Sciences
  • BSc Geography and Environmental Science
  • BScHons Geography and Environmental Sciences
  • BSocSciHons Geographical Sciences
  • MA Environment and Society (Coursework)
  • MSc Environmental Science (Coursework)
  • MSc Environmental Science (Research)
  • MA Geography
  • MSc Geography
  • PhD Geography
  • PhD Environmental Science

Career opportunities 

Geography and Environmental Science graduates from UP readily find work at organisations, such as:  

  • Environmental consulting agencies (or freelance environmental consulting agents)
  • Universities (as lecturers and researchers)
  • the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
  • The Agricultural Research Council (ARC)
  • The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE)
  • South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
  • South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP)
  • Environmental Management Inspectorate (EMI) - Green Scorpions
  • High schools (as teachers)
- Author Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology
Published by Christel Hansen

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