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Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Geography)

Key facts

  • Available at Manawatū
  • Available via Distance Learning
  • Available for international students studying in NZ
  • Some distance courses contain compulsory contact workshops.

Take your excellence and turn it into something more

If you are interested in further in-depth research, this qualification gives you the skills to progress to a PhD.

Find out more about the Bachelor of Science (Honours) parent structure.

What is it like?

Massey University’s Bachelor of Science with Honours with a major in geography is a prestigious qualification for those that are interested in progressing to further, in-depth research. This postgraduate qualification will also give you a career advantage.

This qualification will give you the knowledge and skills to understand and help solve some of the world’s most important environmental issues like flooding, coastal erosion, sea level change, landslide hazards and environmental change.

Globally renowned expertise

Let our experts help you develop your own expertise.

Massey’s geography lecturers have an extensive range of experience and expertise. The ratio of staff to students is high. Your lecturers will be your mentors, working alongside you to fully engage you in the practical and theoretical aspects of advanced physical geography study, to prepare you for life in the workplace in a specialist sense, or preparing you for research at a higher level.


Massey’s geography programmes are ranked as some of the best globally. Out of 800 of the world’s leading universities we were ranked in the top 200 in the QS World University Rankings.

Gain expertise in an area of your choice

The physical geography team at Massey research and have expertise in fluvial processes, coastal processes, slope processes, palynology, biogeography, palaeoecology and river solutions. During the course of your studies you can choose to further your knowledge and apply your learning on an exciting research project like:

  • Monitoring active landslides in glaciated valleys
  • Age estimation of ancient glaciated rockslides
  • Refining understanding of marine terrace development
  • Reconstructing the evolution of estuaries and coastal environments
  • Statistical analyses of earthquake-induced landslides
  • 3D soil mapping
  • Pollen-based vegetation and climate reconstructions
  • Applications of automated palynology systems
  • Mapping floodplain geomorphology
  • Flood series extension

Why postgraduate study?

Postgraduate study is hard work but hugely rewarding and empowering. The workload replicates the high-pressure environment of senior workplace roles. Our experts are there to guide but if you have come from undergraduate study, you will find that postgraduate study demands more in-depth and independent study.

The postgraduate study experience

Some courses in the geography major are taught in block mode, which means you come onto campus for a period. This gives you the opportunity to come to Massey for a semester and spend valuable time with lecturers and fellow students in lectures, seminars, student-led presentations and seminars, lab work, field work day trips, small group discussions, and residential field work.

Not just more of the same

Postgraduate study is not just ‘more of the same’ undergraduate study. It takes you to a new level in knowledge and expertise especially in planning, time management, setting goals and milestones and undertaking research.

Geography options

The Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Geography) may comprise a selection of courses from across both physical and human geography.

However, normally students taking this programme will focus on physical geography and it is this experience that is described in these pages. Students should also consult the Master of Arts (Geography) programme pages for a description of the equivalent experience in human geography.

A good fit if you:

  • Are passionate about science
  • Excelled in your undergraduate geography degree
  • Enjoy and are committed to fieldwork and practical investigations.
  • Are interested in going on to more in-depth research, such as a PhD
  • Have a willingness to take responsibility for learning
Andrew Neverman
BSc Hons (Geography)
Graduated in 2014
PhD (Geography) student

“I have really enjoyed the wide range of experiences studying geography at Massey has given me, with lots of opportunities to explore New Zealand…”

I have always had an interest in the environment and conservation, and in understanding how landscapes operate. I was particularly interested in geography as it covers a very broad range of subjects and offers a wide range of career paths.

I must enjoy my study at Massey because I keep signing up for more! It’s been very interesting, and really opened my eyes.

The biggest highlight for me was presenting my own work at a conference in 2014, which has led to collaboration projects with other universities.

My favourite part of studying has been the vast opportunities to get out in the field, travel, and do research in some amazing landscapes.

My PhD project focuses on understanding sediment transport in rivers, and aims to develop a toolkit for setting flushing flow levels to control algae below dams. I chose this topic because it has global implications. More and more dams are being built around the world, and more pressure is being put on freshwater resources. The outcomes of the PhD project will help with freshwater conservation, something I am passionate about.


Setting you apart

An honours degree is a sign of your excellence and in-depth understanding of the field of geography. Should you pursue a career after qualifying, the Bachelor of Science with Honours with a major in geography will give you a head start on other potential employees with undergraduate degrees.

You will graduate with the skills that could see you in roles like land manager, working in catchment teams, in consulting and engaging in further research.

A step into further study

The honours programme also gives you the research and analytical skills you need to progress into further high-level research/study, such as at a PhD level.

Earn more

A 2017 Ministry of Education publication The post-study earnings and destinations of young domestic graduates, found that in New Zealand:

  • Young master’s graduates earn more than one and a half times more than the national median (five years after study)
  • Earnings and employment rates increase with the level of qualification completed
  • Five years after completion, the median earnings of young master’s graduates are 15% higher than for those with a bachelor’s degree.

World-leading lecturers

Massey’s geography staff are internationally renowned for their research and teaching and learning methods. You will be working with recognised geography specialists, for example:

Associate Professor Ian Fuller

Dr Ian Fuller’s research interests in fluvial geomorphology span the Holocene by addressing:

  • Slope-channel coupling in eroding steepland environments and the contribution of gully mass movement complexes to the catchment sediment cascade at a seasonal to annual timescale
  • Channel dynamics and sediment transfers in gravelly rivers over annual and multi-decadal timescales and their application to river management
  • Alluvial / flood histories and river responses to climate forcing at centennial and millennial timescales

Dr Fuller co-directs Massey's Innovative River Solutions Centre. He also actively engages in pedagogic research and the scholarship of teaching, which has focused on the role of fieldwork in student learning, as well as the nexus between teaching and research.

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