Why choose Girton?

There is a distinct flavour to Geography at Girton. Here you will find a large and thriving community of undergraduates, graduates, postdoctoral researchers and Fellows working together to create a lively, supportive learning environment. We realise that students acquire knowledge in many different ways and believe strongly that knowledge gained in lectures and libraries is enhanced by opportunities for ‘group learning’, both formally, such as supervisions, and informally. Our group activities include informal reading groups, older students mentoring younger students, college-initated fieldtrips, and many group sessions throughout the year where all Girton’s geographers get together. We are slightly further out of town than many colleges, which creates a close and supportive community. Both socially and academically, Girton Geographers have a tremendous sense of identity and belonging.

The student-run Geographical Society is extremely active and hosts a series of events each year. The Society organises seminars, external speakers, social events, and a biennial dinner with alumni and friends. Plus, you can be in the height of fashion with our very own Girton Geography hoodie!

Geography has a long and illustrious academic history at Girton. We have experts in human, physical and environmental geography at Girton to inspire you and help you develop your critical thinking skills. Dr Jean Grove changed the way physical scientists understand climate change, while Dr Roland Randall studied (and continues to do so) British and Mediterranean coastal ecosystems.

Their contemporary counterparts carry on this legacy. Dr Harriet Allen’s work focuses on Mediterranean ecosystems, and in particular their threatened status as a result of contemporary environmental change, while Dr Amy Donovan explores the interface between the human and physical geographies of risk on volcanoes.

Our human geographers include Professor Susan J. Smith, Dr Mia Gray, and Dr Anna Barford. Girton is the only college at Cambridge to have a geographer as the head of College and Professor Smith’s research is concerned with the challenges of inequality. Her work addresses themes as diverse as residential segregation, housing markets, and fear of crime. She has recently been awarded the Victoria Medal ‘for conspicuous merit in research in Human Geography’ from the RGS- IBG.

Dr Gray’s work complements this by exploring the distinctive geographies of labour markets and the social and organisational dynamics of work. Dr Anna Barford addresses geographies of inequality at various scales – from the world scale (e.g. the cartogram project), to her current research into city-level responses to funding cuts from central government (with Dr Mia Gray).

Girton has also hosted many internationally renowed visiting fellows, including Professor Saskia Sassen and Professor Cindi Katz. Professor Sassen’s work on globalisation remains one of the foundations of geographic understanding of contemporary globalisation, while Professor Katz’s work on the geographies of children, young people, parenting and social reproduction is ground-breaking. Geography at Girton has long been associated with those at the cutting edge.

Undergraduate information

Cambridge is one of the best universities in the country to study Geography. Full details of the structure of the course can be found at

Success as a Geographer is not just about passing exams; it is about understanding the world. It also involves developing mathematical and communication skills (both written and spoken) to a high level. Girton’s vibrant teaching team works hard to bring Geography to life and are passionate about their teaching. There is a creative approach to study, including reading groups, student-led presentations, dissertation seminars and exam preparation sessions. All this, combined with a lively programme of study located in the Geography Department, makes for an exciting undergraduate degree.

First year supervisions are organised by your Director of Studies and you will get to know, very well, your supervisors for human and physical geography. Most of these supervisions will be given by geographers at Girton. However you will also be supervised by geographers from other colleges. Supervisions for second and third year students are organised by staff in the Department working with Directors of Studies. Your supervisors therefore will be experts from Girton, other colleges and the Department.

As geographers, we know that fieldwork brings the subject alive and overseas fieldwork is part of the agenda in the second year of the degree. While costs are heavily subsidised by the University, Girton can also provide grants for those who have difficulties paying their contribution. Destinations have included the Algarve, Denmark, southern France, Morocco, Spain (Mallorca and Tenerife), Switzerland and Germany (Berlin).

Girton students also have a strong tradition of working abroad for their dissertations, with fieldwork completed during the summer between second and third years. A range of travel awards are available to support this. Students are free to formulate their own dissertation ideas, and are helped in this by support from geographers in the College. Dissertation topics studied by Girton students in recent years include: tourism in Mexico; transport in Quito, Ecuador; community response to flooding in Brisbane; sub-glacial hydrology in Sweden; invasive plants in Florida; glacial history of the Black Mountains, Wales; restoration of wetland habitats in East Anglia; the relationship between land use and water quality in an Essex river, and the cultural geography of ‘the global Irish Pub’; commemoration of volcanic eruptions in Iceland;  glacial cryoconite; perceptions of poverty in three London boroughs; and organic dairy farming in Wales.

In addition to having access to Cambridge University’s impressive learning resources, the splendid College Library has an excellent geography section together with knowledgeable, responsive staff.

Graduate information

Girton has a thriving community of graduate students, including geographers. Most years we have students who are studying either for a PhD or for one of the Geography Department’s MPhil programmes. Supervisors for PhD students are appointed by the Department and there is no need for the supervisor of a Girton PhD student to be associated with the College.

Girton’s geography PhD students pursue a wide range of research topics. MPhil courses offered by the Department include Conservation Leadership; Geographical Research; and Polar Studies. The Girton graduate geographers are members of the college’s Geographical Society and join in with many of their social and academic activities.

Research and postgraduate students are admitted to the University by the Board of Graduate Studies. You must therefore apply centrally and not to the College, however you must be admitted to a College to be able to study at the University. To ensure that this is Girton, you need to indicate this on your application form.

Career destinations

An impressive number of undergraduates go on to Masters and PhD-level study; and many graduates find secure employment in a very wide range of fields, for example finance, teaching, publishing, the civil service, and working in NGOs.

Undergraduate admissions at a glance

No. of students admitted per year


Entry requirements

All entry requirements are A-Level standard or equivalent, unless otherwise stated.

Mathematics to AS Level (or equivalent) is encouraged, though not essential.

Typical offer


For details of other examination systems please see our Offer Table

Assessment arrangements

All Cambridge candidates are required to take a 2 hour written assessment prior to interview. Candidates will sit the assessment in their school or college and must register by 15 October.

Further information about the written assessment can be found here.

Interview arrangements

Usually 2 interviews with Fellows in Geography; in one interview candidates will be asked to discuss a geographical text which they are given to read before the interview.


Tutorial and Admissions Office
+44 (0)1223 338972
+44 (0)1223 766673

Fellows & Teaching Staff

Harriet Allen

Dr Harriet Allen

  • Director of Studies
  • Official Fellow
Amy Donovan

Dr Amy Donovan

  • Director of Studies
  • Official Fellow