ACADEMIC STAFFGeographydesert

Dr Ben Gowland


We admit eight Geography students each year.

The Course

The first year course is self-contained and leads to the University (Preliminary) examination at the end of the year. All students study Earth Systems Processes, Human Geography, Geographical Controversies and Geographical Techniques. First year students are introduced to the key elements of geographical skills through lecture and classroom teaching in Earth Observation, Quantitative Methods, and Qualitative Techniques, developed further through field exercises on a field trip to Dorset in the early part of the first term and also in the Oxford region later in the year.

In the second and third years of the course, leading to the Final University Examination, students take the Geographical Thought course and choose two foundational courses from Space, Place and Society, Earth System Dynamics, and Environmental Geography. Students then choose three optional courses from, for example, African Societies, Climate Variability and Change, Conservation and Management, Desert Landscapes and Dynamics, Geographies of Finance, Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation, Complexity, Cultural Spaces, European Integration, Geographies of Nature, Geopolitics, Spaces of Politics, Transport and Mobilities, and the Quaternary Period. All students attend a week-long overseas field course in the second year (currently to Tenerife or Amsterdam) linked to their foundational choices, and advanced techniques workshops in preparation for the 12,000 word final year independent dissertation. The course provides breadth and depth in its exploration of key environmental and geographical issues, and it allows ample opportunity for students to specialise in particular topics and pursue themes of specific interest.

The College tutors for Geography are Professor Giles Wiggs (currently Head of school), Dr Sneha Krishnan (currently on research leave), Dr Fiona Ferbrache, Dr Julie Durcan, Dr Tash Wallum, and Dr Ben Gowland. They are committed geographers and enthusiastic tutors. Giles is a desert geomorphologist specialising in the physical processes controlling aeolian sediment transport and landform dynamics with implications for climate change and environmental degradation. Sneha researches gender, youth and urban life in India. Fiona researches political and social geographies of mobility and migration in the European Union. Julie specalises in palaeoenvironmental reconstruction with an expertise in luminescence dating. Sophie works on weathering processes in river and costal geographies. Ben Gowland is a political geographer and his work focuses on decolonisation, imperialism and labour geography in the decolonising British Empire. Natasha’s research focuses on the innovative application of a range of earth observation approaches to dryland geomorphology.

Brasenose geographers benefit from the central location of the college at the very heart of Oxford, and also its proximity to the School of Geography, which includes laboratory and computing facilities, and relevant libraries containing geography material. Brasenose students run their own geographical society with termly events that are the centre of a lively academic and social life inclusive of undergraduates, postgraduates and teaching staff.

Read more about Geography at Oxford.


Brasenose geographers have gone into a wide variety of careers including MSc and DPhil research, environmental consultancy, journalism, law, marketing, technology, and international banking.