skip to primary navigation skip to content

Department of Geography


About Geography at Cambridge

Geography has a long tradition at Cambridge. The first University Lecturer in Geography was appointed in 1888, the first Reader in 1898. Teaching was initially for a special examination leading to a diploma in geography. The Geographical Tripos – the examination for a B.A. degree – was established in 1919. In 1931 the first Professor was appointed and in 1933 the Department moved into its own accommodation. That building, which now constitutes the eastern end of the Department, was considerably extended in the 1930s, with the construction of new lecture theatres and laboratories. In the 1980s, the building was further extended with the addition of a top floor to provide a new laboratory for computing, remote sensing and geographical information systems. In 1999 the Department expanded again, to occupy two floors in an adjacent building where new laboratories, seminar rooms and offices are housed.

A substantial account of the history of the Department is available in Landmark issue 7, researched by Professor Philip Howell.

More recently, the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure has been integrated into the teaching and research activities of the Department (2001) and the Scott Polar Research Institute has become a sub-department (2002). Today, the Department has 35 academic staff including ten Professors and four Readers.

The Department of Geography today is a flourishing and expanding academic community committed to high standards of research. The questions we ask, the philosophies and methodologies we draw upon, embrace the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities. Research is represented by our main research thematic groups and our work brings us into contact and collaboration with many other disciplines to address the challenges of a changing world.

Undergraduate teaching has continued to evolve in response to new challenges in the subject and in recent years, the Department’s commitment to research-led teaching has expanded to include a range of Masters courses.

Geography has been researched and taught at Cambridge for more than a century; during that time both the world and geography have changed immensely. Geography at Cambridge has a remarkable tradition and also a great future.