The word “geography” comes from the Greek language and means “to describe or write about the earth”. The study of geography encompasses many topics, including human society and its myriad interactions with the built and natural environment, and physical phenomena such as earthquakes and the melting of the ice caps.
Aside from being a fascinating subject there are many career opportunities available for students who have taken postgraduate qualifications in this discipline. Students may go on to pursue careers as teachers, researchers with government agencies or departments, consultants with private firms, aid workers in developing countries, planners, local government officials or enter the field of academia. There are many postgraduate courses in geography in Ireland and usually it is not a prerequisite to have studied geography for primary degree, although a good result in your primary degree will usually be required. If you did not study geography at primary degree level you may have to demonstrate your aptitude for a postgraduate geography course, perhaps by acquiring professional experience in a field related to geography or perhaps if you can show how topics covered for your undergraduate degree may have a link to the discipline.
NUI Maynooth offers MLitt and PhD programmes in geography. A research thesis conducted over two to three years full time or three to four years part time constitutes the basis of the award. The MA in Society of Space is run jointly by the departments of Geography, Sociology and the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis. The course offers an advanced introduction to social science, human geography and sociology research. A Bachelor’s degree of honours 2.1 or higher in any discipline is required for entry, although, in exceptional circumstances a Bachelor’s degree of 2.2 will be considered. Applicants whose primary degree does not include human geography or sociology may be asked to attend for an interview. As the course provides a comprehensive introduction to social scientific and human geographical research on contemporary social, economic, political and economic policy, it will be of particular interest to policy funders, analysts, policymakers, practitioners and commentators currently in employment or those who would like to work as such. Other courses offered by NUI Maynooth in the field of geography include; MSc in Climate Change, MSc in Geographical Information Systems and Remote Sensing and MSc in Geocomputation.
UCD offers a taught MA in Geography. The course is made up of taught modules along with independent research. Topics covered include the history of geographic thought, physical geography, practical cartography and project management, to name but a few. A thesis of approximately 12,000 to 15,000 words is also required. The course is one year full-time. There are also research programmes available from the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy at UCD, namely, the MSc in physical geography or the MLitt. in Human Geography. For anyone wishing to study at doctorate level, PhD study is another option at UCD and expressions of interest from students with ambitions to pursue research in the fields of civil society and governance, climatology, cultural geography, environmental economics, natural resource management, housing, political geography, quality of life, rural planning and development, transportation, urban geography, urban regeneration or urban and regional development are welcomed. PhD study typically takes three to four years full time.
Geography researchers are also supported by Mary Immaculate College in Limerick. Research degrees to Masters and doctoral level are available across economic, urban and rural geography; historical and political geography and environmental geography.
Trinity College Dublin’s Geography Department has several taught and research fourth level programmes. Taught programmes include; Masters in Environment and Development, Masters in Development Practice and MSc /PgDip. in Biodiversity and Conservation. Successful PhD applicants will usually be provisionally entered onto the programme for the first year and subject to satisfactory progress, are confirmed on the register at the end of first year.
University College Cork offers Higher Diplomas in Geography and also Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Various other taught and research Masters and PhD programmes are also offered by the university. NUI Galway also run several taught and research MA and PhD programmes. Log onto the individual institute’s websites for further information.
In a world where geographical knowledge and experience are becoming increasingly important, completion of a fourth level geography programme is no doubt a valuable commodity. Geography is an interdisciplinary field that offers diverse career opportunities. Research your options well and decide on a programme that is most suited to your individual needs.