I chose to study geography because I loved its breadth and relevance to everyday life. The course at Oxford is particularly good at bridging the human and physical aspects of the discipline; with the first year course requiring you to study both human and physical and second and third years studying two out of physical, human and environmental geography.
The ‘Geographical controversies’ paper in first year is also particularly unusual for a geography degree, but I found it extremely engaging and gave me a greater understanding of geography as a discipline. With topics such as the identity of geography throughout history, it really broke free of ‘school geography’ as it was something we had never covered before. The most rewarding aspect of the course is certainly having weekly tutorials with an expert in the field. They truly are at the forefront of the discipline- having your tutor write articles for national newspapers is pretty exciting! The flexibility of the course is simultaneously one of its greatest assets and also its most challenging aspect- it gives you great freedom to study the aspects you are most interested in in greater depth, but with so many other incredible opportunities in Oxford, time management is key!
Geography doesn’t have a huge amount of contact hours- as our tutor says he sees the departments role as ‘lighting a fire, rather than filling a bucket’, so the lectures and tutorials provide the bare bones of the course and inspire you to do further reading, rather than prescribing exactly what you need to know. Fieldwork is also a central, and very enjoyable, part of the degree, with two field days in first year, a week long fieldtrip in second year (to either Copenhagen or Tenerife this year) and a dissertation in the summer of second year which can be to literally anywhere of your choosing! I think the department website gives an accurate portrayal of what to expect, content-wise, from a geography degree at Oxford so there were no great surprises when I arrived.