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Geography Geography is a diverse and integrative discipline that bridges the natural and social sciences. At Wits, the BSc Honours in the field of Geography is taught by a team of academics who are passionate about their research and the topics they teach.
Geography Geography is a diverse and integrative discipline that bridges the natural and social sciences. At Wits, the BSc Honours in the field of Geography is taught by a team of academics who are passionate about their research and the topics they teach.

Qualification: BScHons

Faculty: Science

Study mode: Full-time

Overview

Why study Geography?

Geographers are well placed to find solutions to some of the most pressing issues of our times, such as climate change, natural disasters, land degradation, overpopulation and rapid urban expansion. 

Why study Geography at Wits?

The Geography Division at Wits is rated in the top 100 institutions in the QS World University Rankings. Staff members contribute regularly to local and international publications and are members of the editorial boards of many prestigious journals. Our students benefit from the diverse expertise of our academic staff, all of whom are committed to research-based teaching. 

The field of Geography includes the subdisciplines of:

  • Physical Geography – including climatology, geomorphology, hydrology and climate and environmental change.
  • Human Geography – including economic geography, urban geography, and human-environment interactions.
  • Geospatial Sciences – including Geographic Information Science, Remote Sensing and spatial statistics.
  • Environmental Management – including the policy and practice, water and air pollution, and disaster risk management.

Some career possibilities following a Geography Honours degree include environmental impact assessment and management (if eligible for SACNASP accreditation), carbon monitoring and reporting, environmental consulting, remote sensing, geographic information systems, policy engagement, science communication, tourism management and environmental education.

The BSc Geography Honours degree comprises one compulsory course (the research project) and four elective courses. You may select any four of the elective courses on offer. You may replace one elective course with a course of equivalent credits from another programme.

Compulsory course:

GEOG4009A  Research Project in Geography: Full Year, 40 credits

 

Elective courses:

GEOG4034A Water Challenges in Southern Africa: Block 1, 20 credits, Prof. Chris Curtis

Water Challenges in Southern Africa provides a broad introduction to the critically important field of water resource management and conservation with a focus on the key challenges associated with economic development, population growth, improved access to resources and global environmental change in a water scarce region. The course begins with a review of the hydrological cycle and the geographic setting of water resources and demand in Southern Africa. The major threats to water quality for human use are explored, with examples of pressures from agriculture, industry and domestic sources. Next is an introduction to national programmes for mapping, monitoring and managing water resources in South Africa through Water Management Areas, making use of spatial datasets and GIS. Practical experience of basic water quality analysis and monitoring methods is provided in the laboratory and the field (depending on numbers). The course will then address threats to aquatic biodiversity and assess national priorities for conservation of aquatic ecosystems and species through National Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Areas. Moving up in scale, issues of water security linked to transboundary water resources and global climate change are explored. The course ends with an introduction to water policy and management challenges in South Africa and their relevance to the draft National Water Resources Strategy introduced in 2012. Students get the opportunity to explore social and political aspects of water management.

GEOG4033A  Advanced GIS and Remote Sensing: Block 2, 20 credits, Dr Elhadi Adam

This course provides students with an advanced understanding of the theory and practice of remote sensing. The aim of the course is to develop the ability of the students to pre-process, analyse and critically assess a variety of remotely sensed data in a wide variety of subject fields across the physical and social sciences such as monitoring vegetation health and productivity, mining, surface water, change detection and the mapping of contamination from sources such as acid mine drainage.

GEOG4039A  Local and Regional Economic Development: Block 2, 20 credits, Dr Siân Butcher

This course provides a theoretical and methodological engagement with key themes and debates in Geographies of Development and Economic Geography. We will consider these themes and debates critically and geographically via a number of urgent South African development challenges and the responses to them in theory, policy and praxis. As a seminar-based course, seminar sessions will combine lectures and student-led discussions of the readings. Students will be expected to read, review and discuss assigned readings. Other assignments will contribute to students’ honours research projects theoretically or methodologically, and develop wider skills for engaging critically with development-related materials and projects.

GEOG4044A  Global Atmospheric Change: Block 3, 20 credits, Prof. Jennifer Fitchett

The course explores Global Atmospheric Change through geologic time periods, from the Great Oxidation event, to the formation of the ozone layer and glacial-to interglacial cycles of carbon storage. Contemporary atmospheric change is then explored, first in the context of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, greenhouse gas sequestration, and projections for climate change under an altered atmospheric composition. Isotopic changes in Oxygen, Carbon and Nitrogen are explored as indicators of the changing contemporary atmosphere. This course will provide a detailed discussion into the contemporary debates regarding the Anthropocene: the timing of commencement, the impact of human activity on the atmosphere, and the absence of prior analogues of contemporary atmospheric and environmental conditions.

GEOG4045A  Disaster Risk and Geohazards: Block 3, 20 credits, Prof. Jasper Knight

This course focuses on the reasons why disasters occur in a global and southern African context, and the relationships of these disasters to aspects of the human and physical environments that can trigger, amplify, or moderate disaster risks and impacts. The course addresses the most common types of geohazards globally and locally (earthquakes, tsunamis, storm surges, river floods, droughts, soil erosion), their causes and controls, and uses case studies to analyse their impacts on the human and physical environments, including aspects of vulnerability and adaptation. Throughout, there is emphasis on predictability, risk and mitigation of hazard impacts, including their implications for modelling, management and policy.

GEOG4042A  Air Pollution and Synoptic Climatology: Block 4, 20 credits, Dr Raeesa Moolla

The objective of this course is for students to gain a balanced understanding of energy transfer mechanisms, global winds and regional pressure belts, atmospheric circulation and weather affecting Southern Africa, pollutant transport under different circulation patterns, and the lifecycle of air pollutants. Students will learn and understand atmospheric and climatological processes in an applied context.

GEOG4043A  Integrated Environmental Management: Block 4, 20 credits, Dr Melanie Samson

This course draws on debates in political ecology and political economy to critically interrogate the concept of ‘environmental management’. Topics covered include: the social production of nature and the environment; the relationship between economic processes and environmental problems; and the economic and political underpinnings and effects of different approaches to ‘managing’ environmental issues. Key outcomes include: being able to critically analyse different ways of framing and resolving environmental problems; and being able to identify the political, theoretical, and practical implications of adopting different approaches to environmental management.

GEOG4015A  Geographic Information Systems: Block 1, 20 credits, Dr Stefania Merlo

This course provides students with an advanced understanding of GIS through hands-on experience. The aim of the course is to develop the ability of the students to pre-process, analyse and critically assess a variety of datasets and apply the findings to a range of topics addressed by GIS professionals. The course will focus on in-depth knowledge of the sourcing of primary quantitative and qualitative data and their processing to create fundamental datasets for spatial analysis and problem solving. Students will learn to analyze surface terrain characteristics and derived properties (i.e. slope, hydrology, curvature), to create continuous surfaces from a set of points, analyze spatial patterns using geostatistical methods, and integrate GIS with remote sensing.

GEOG4041A  Understanding Cities in Africa
  • An undergraduate BSc or BA degree in complimentary fields relating to Geography, with a minimum weighted average of 60% and an average of 65% for geography courses is required for consideration for admission into the programme.

This is a highly competitive programme and therefore this minimum requirement allows your application to be considered, and does not guarantee admission.

30 November 2021

  • Applications are handled centrally by the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC). Once your application is complete in terms of requested documentation, your application will be referred to the relevant School for assessment. Click here to see an overview of the Wits applications process.
  • Please apply online. Upload your supporting documents at the time of application, or via the Self Service Portal.
  • Applicants can monitor the progress of their applications via the Self Service Portal.
  • Selections for programmes that have a limited intake but attract a large number of applications may only finalise the application at the end of the application cycle.

Please note that the Entry Requirements are a guide. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee a place. Final selection is made subject to the availability of places, academic results and other entry requirements where applicable.

International students, please check this section.

For more information, contact the Student Call Centre +27 (0)11 717 1888, or log a query at www.wits.ac.za/askwits.

Click here to see the current average tuition fees. The Fees Office website also provides information about the payment of fees and closing dates for fees payments. Once you have applied you will be able to access the fees estimator on the student self-service portal.

For information about postgraduate funding opportunities, including the postgraduate merit award, click here. Please also check your School website for bursary opportunities. NRF bursaries: The National Research Foundation (NRF) offers a wide range of opportunities in terms of bursaries and fellowships to students pursuing postgraduate studies. External bursaries portal: The Bursaries South Africa website provides a comprehensive list of bursaries in South Africa.