Difference between Human Geography and International Relations degree?

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galaxyemma
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I do geography A level and am very interested in the human side e.g. globalisation, NGOs etc. I am interested in a related degree, and the obvious choice is human geography, but after some research International Relations looks similar.

What are the main differences between a Human Geography and International Relations degree? This can be course content, assessment style, how it's taught, employability, which one is more highly regarded etc.

Thanks!
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howisladypole
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You're basically me lol, I'm hoping to do international relations.
International relations focuses more on foreign policy and diplomatic stuff than Human Geography does I'd say but I've not gone to uni yet so I can't say for sure. I'd say International Relations is more employable?
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Michiyo
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(Original post by galaxyemma)
I do geography A level and am very interested in the human side e.g. globalisation, NGOs etc. I am interested in a related degree, and the obvious choice is human geography, but after some research International Relations looks similar.

What are the main differences between a Human Geography and International Relations degree? This can be course content, assessment style, how it's taught, employability, which one is more highly regarded etc.

Thanks!
(Original post by howisladypole)
You're basically me lol, I'm hoping to do international relations.
International relations focuses more on foreign policy and diplomatic stuff than Human Geography does I'd say but I've not gone to uni yet so I can't say for sure. I'd say International Relations is more employable?
International Relations graduate here! :hi:

Human Geography and International Relations are not necessarily alike. They have a few points in common, but they are quite different at their core. A Human Geography course is basically a Geography course without the physical aspect (maps, geophysics, etc) while an International Relations degree is basically a Politics course that focuses on the global rather than national side of things.

Judging from what I have read about Human Geography, they focus way more on the environment, sustainability and geographical considerations (such as food security) in relation to how they affect people. For example, 'How does migration affect culture and development?' would be a human geography question. Pretty much everything you imagine when you think of 'green politics' falls under human geography, though it is present in International Relations or Politics courses too. In practice, that means you would have more modules touching upon those topics if you study Human Geography.

On the other hand, International Relations only concerns itself with the political side of things. In other words, how do things impact how countries interact with one another? Those things can include, but are not limited to topics like national politics, foreign policy, culture, geopolitics, the environment, conflict, the economy, development, international institutions and so forth. Naturally, that means the amount of modules you will be able to take about stuff like the environment is potentially smaller depending on what optional modules are offered, though you would gain a more complete picture of politics on the global scene.

Both globalisation and NGOs feature in Human Geography and International Relations degrees, but the way they deal with them is relatively different. As an International Relations graduate, I would ponder on how those two affect relations between countries and other political actors (e.g. pressure groups, international organisations), the global political climate, conflict, international trade and international development. A Human Geography student would probably look out for how globalisation and NGOs are impacted by human geography factors (migration, development and so on), as well as for how globalisation and NGOs can play a part in changing the face of human geography (like demographics) as we know it.

It is worth noting that Human Geography degrees have fieldwork incorporated into the assessment (check the course structure in case you are not sure if the universities you wish to apply to have fieldwork) while International Relations degrees do not.

In terms of employability, the kind of jobs you can do with those degrees differs slightly. For example, you would be more likely to find a Human Geography graduate in a position dealing with environmental factors while an International Relations graduate would be more likely to be found in diplomacy. That being said, both degrees can lead to literally the same careers, so it does not mean that you will be excluded from certain careers if you pursue one or the other. Personally, I think International Relations is a bit more employable purely because it is broader while Human Geography is just one area of geography/geopolitics. Even so, if you already know you definitely want to go into a certain area of International Relations that is better covered by Human Geography, go for it!

However, it all depends on what you want to do long-term. In my case, I want to work in diplomacy, an international organisation, the civil service, conflict mitigation or international security in the future. Those areas are much better integrated in an International Relations degree than in a Human Geography one (there is some overlap, though). If one wanted to work as, say, an Environmental Affairs Officer for the United Nations, both degrees would be acceptable, but a Human Geography one would be slightly more related to that than International Relations.

When it comes to reputation, Human Geography is definitely a much more uncommon course than International Relations, so International Relations could be argued to be more reputable, though the subject you study does not actually matter that much in the workplace. I cannot remember the exact number off the top of my head, but I have seen a study which showed under 20% of employers care what degree you study. Do not think much of reputation, both of them are acceptable degrees.

In summary, it all comes down to what you are interested in most. If you are more interested in how things affect global affairs, go for International Relations. If you care more about geographical factors and their impact on people, go for Human Geography. But before you do that, make sure you check the course structure so as to ensure that you are embarking on a course you will genuinely enjoy!

At the end of the day, what you study does not matter as long as you can prove you have the necessary skills for the job. What employers look out for more so than what you study is transferable skills (communication, teamwork, etc) and work experience. My best advice to you as a recent graduate is to choose which degree interests you most and to gain as much relevant voluntary or paid experience during your degree as you can.

Feel free to ask me anything else, I would be more than glad to help since I have actually studied one of the degrees you are considering
Last edited by Michiyo; 1 year ago
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howisladypole
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(Original post by Michiyo)
International Relations graduate here! :hi:

Human Geography and International Relations are not necessarily alike. They have a few points in common, but they are quite different at their core. A Human Geography course is basically a Geography course without the physical aspect (maps, geophysics, etc) while an International Relations degree is basically a Politics course that focuses on the global rather than national side of things.

Judging from what I have read about Human Geography, they focus way more on the environment, sustainability and geographical considerations (such as food security) in relation to how they affect people. For example, 'How does migration affect culture and development?' would be a human geography question. Pretty much everything you imagine when you think of 'green politics' falls under human geography, though it is present in International Relations or Politics courses too. In practice, that means you would have more modules touching upon those topics if you study Human Geography.

On the other hand, International Relations only concerns itself with the political side of things. In other words, how do things impact how countries interact with one another? Those things can include, but are not limited to topics like national politics, foreign policy, culture, geopolitics, the environment, conflict, the economy, development, international institutions and so forth. Naturally, that means the amount of modules you will be able to take about stuff like the environment is potentially smaller depending on what optional modules are offered, though you would gain a more complete picture of politics on the global scene.

Both globalisation and NGOs feature in Human Geography and International Relations degrees, but the way they deal with them is relatively different. As an International Relations graduate, I would ponder on how those two affect relations between countries and other political actors (e.g. pressure groups, international organisations), the global political climate, conflict, international trade and international development. A Human Geography student would probably look out for how globalisation and NGOs are impacted by human geography factors (migration, development and so on), as well as for how globalisation and NGOs can play a part in changing the face of human geography (like demographics) as we know it.

It is worth noting that Human Geography degrees have fieldwork incorporated into the assessment (check the course structure in case you are not sure if the universities you wish to apply to have fieldwork) while International Relations degrees do not.

In terms of employability, the kind of jobs you can do with those degrees differs slightly. For example, you would be more likely to find a Human Geography graduate in a position dealing with environmental factors while an International Relations graduate would be more likely to be found in diplomacy. That being said, both degrees can lead to literally the same careers, so it does not mean that you will be excluded from certain careers if you pursue one or the other. Personally, I think International Relations is a bit more employable purely because it is broader while Human Geography is just one area of geography/geopolitics. Even so, if you already know you definitely want to go into a certain area of International Relations that is better covered by Human Geography, go for it!

However, it all depends on what you want to do long-term. In my case, I want to work in diplomacy, an international organisation, the civil service, conflict mitigation or international security in the future. Those areas are much better integrated in an International Relations degree than in a Human Geography one (there is some overlap, though). If one wanted to work as, say, an Environmental Affairs Officer the United Nations, both degrees would be acceptable, but a Human Geography one would be slightly more related to that than International Relations.

When it comes to reputation, Human Geography is definitely a much more uncommon course than International Relations, so International Relations could be argued to be more reputable, though the subject you study does not actually matter that much in the workplace. I cannot remember the exact number off the top of my head, but I have seen a study which showed under 20% of employers care what degree you study. Do not think much of reputation, both of them are acceptable degrees.

In summary, it all comes down to what you are interested in most. If you are more interested in how things affect global affairs, go for International Relations. If you care more about geographical factors and their impact on people, go for Human Geography. But before you do that, make sure you check the course structure so as to ensure that you are embarking on a course you will genuinely enjoy!

At the end of the day, what you study does not matter as long as you can prove you have the necessary skills for the job. What employers look out for more so than what you study is transferable skills (communication, teamwork, etc) and work experience. My best advice to you as a recent graduate is to choose which degree interests you most and to gain as much relevant voluntary or paid experience during your degree as you can.

Feel free to ask me anything else, I would be more than glad to help since I have actually studied one of the degrees you are considering
Thank you, this was incredibly useful, as I'm sure it will be for OP too. I'm pretty sure I want to do International Relations over Human Geography. Would you say research in Health and Disease, or similar, is more in Human Geography? I love that area though I'd be ok with not doing it.
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galaxyemma
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#5
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#5
(Original post by Michiyo)
International Relations graduate here! :hi:

Human Geography and International Relations are not necessarily alike. They have a few points in common, but they are quite different at their core. A Human Geography course is basically a Geography course without the physical aspect (maps, geophysics, etc) while an International Relations degree is basically a Politics course that focuses on the global rather than national side of things.

Judging from what I have read about Human Geography, they focus way more on the environment, sustainability and geographical considerations (such as food security) in relation to how they affect people. For example, 'How does migration affect culture and development?' would be a human geography question. Pretty much everything you imagine when you think of 'green politics' falls under human geography, though it is present in International Relations or Politics courses too. In practice, that means you would have more modules touching upon those topics if you study Human Geography.

On the other hand, International Relations only concerns itself with the political side of things. In other words, how do things impact how countries interact with one another? Those things can include, but are not limited to topics like national politics, foreign policy, culture, geopolitics, the environment, conflict, the economy, development, international institutions and so forth. Naturally, that means the amount of modules you will be able to take about stuff like the environment is potentially smaller depending on what optional modules are offered, though you would gain a more complete picture of politics on the global scene.

Both globalisation and NGOs feature in Human Geography and International Relations degrees, but the way they deal with them is relatively different. As an International Relations graduate, I would ponder on how those two affect relations between countries and other political actors (e.g. pressure groups, international organisations), the global political climate, conflict, international trade and international development. A Human Geography student would probably look out for how globalisation and NGOs are impacted by human geography factors (migration, development and so on), as well as for how globalisation and NGOs can play a part in changing the face of human geography (like demographics) as we know it.

It is worth noting that Human Geography degrees have fieldwork incorporated into the assessment (check the course structure in case you are not sure if the universities you wish to apply to have fieldwork) while International Relations degrees do not.

In terms of employability, the kind of jobs you can do with those degrees differs slightly. For example, you would be more likely to find a Human Geography graduate in a position dealing with environmental factors while an International Relations graduate would be more likely to be found in diplomacy. That being said, both degrees can lead to literally the same careers, so it does not mean that you will be excluded from certain careers if you pursue one or the other. Personally, I think International Relations is a bit more employable purely because it is broader while Human Geography is just one area of geography/geopolitics. Even so, if you already know you definitely want to go into a certain area of International Relations that is better covered by Human Geography, go for it!

However, it all depends on what you want to do long-term. In my case, I want to work in diplomacy, an international organisation, the civil service, conflict mitigation or international security in the future. Those areas are much better integrated in an International Relations degree than in a Human Geography one (there is some overlap, though). If one wanted to work as, say, an Environmental Affairs Officer the United Nations, both degrees would be acceptable, but a Human Geography one would be slightly more related to that than International Relations.

When it comes to reputation, Human Geography is definitely a much more uncommon course than International Relations, so International Relations could be argued to be more reputable, though the subject you study does not actually matter that much in the workplace. I cannot remember the exact number off the top of my head, but I have seen a study which showed under 20% of employers care what degree you study. Do not think much of reputation, both of them are acceptable degrees.

In summary, it all comes down to what you are interested in most. If you are more interested in how things affect global affairs, go for International Relations. If you care more about geographical factors and their impact on people, go for Human Geography. But before you do that, make sure you check the course structure so as to ensure that you are embarking on a course you will genuinely enjoy!

At the end of the day, what you study does not matter as long as you can prove you have the necessary skills for the job. What employers look out for more so than what you study is transferable skills (communication, teamwork, etc) and work experience. My best advice to you as a recent graduate is to choose which degree interests you most and to gain as much relevant voluntary or paid experience during your degree as you can.

Feel free to ask me anything else, I would be more than glad to help since I have actually studied one of the degrees you are considering
Thank you for taking the time to write this, it has really helped me understand the differences in content between the two degrees. Personally, although I think I would enjoy learning the content for both courses, the assessment style is what I am most worried about. Having taken physics, chemistry, maths and geography A-levels, I worry that I won't be well enough equipped for the amount of writing involved in an IR degree (I understand that both degrees are essay based, but I am under the impression that IR is more so), and maybe even the political/historical knowledge some people would have gained from A-level. Would this be a large hindrance? I know I am capable of writing long essays, as this year I wrote an EPQ over 6 months and found it enjoyable to do so. How many words is the average IR essay, how often do you get an essay (per week, fortnight etc) and how long do you have to complete it? This would be a deciding factor for me. Thank you so much!
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Abu Ochefije
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I really appreciate it. But in Nigeria which one of the course is more important to study, international relations or human geography
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Michiyo
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(Original post by galaxyemma)
Thank you for taking the time to write this, it has really helped me understand the differences in content between the two degrees. Personally, although I think I would enjoy learning the content for both courses, the assessment style is what I am most worried about. Having taken physics, chemistry, maths and geography A-levels, I worry that I won't be well enough equipped for the amount of writing involved in an IR degree (I understand that both degrees are essay based, but I am under the impression that IR is more so), and maybe even the political/historical knowledge some people would have gained from A-level. Would this be a large hindrance? I know I am capable of writing long essays, as this year I wrote an EPQ over 6 months and found it enjoyable to do so. How many words is the average IR essay, how often do you get an essay (per week, fortnight etc) and how long do you have to complete it? This would be a deciding factor for me. Thank you so much!
Apologies for the late reply! I will do my best to reply in case it might help, even though I am so late :hide:

You are more than welcome, I am glad it helped :heart: Do not worry about essay-writing and knowledge, most people do not actually have that much relevant knowledge and universities offer support with academic writing The course is always taught assuming nobody has any knowledge whatsoever of the topic (most people do not take A-level Politics, after all), so you would not be at a huge disadvantage because you took science A-levels :yep:

The answer depends highly on every university. Have a look at the assessment part of the modules you need and want to take at that respective university (look up the module in their module directory to get there); they will tell you exactly how you will be assessed, and often, how many words you need to write too. For me, the essays were 1500-3000 words long, which is roughly average. I have heard of longer essays (4000-5000 words) at other unis and/or on other modules, and I do have such essays now that I am doing my Master's, but it is doable

In addition, since you get to choose your modules, you can take into consideration how many essays you have to write and how long they are before you decide. In my case, I always made sure not to take modules with an unreasonable workload or word count. For example, a module that was of interest of me this year (I am doing my Master's now) had a 7000-word essay, so I opted to choose another module which I was also interested in, but which had a 4000-word essay instead. In the end, you will get the same degree, so you might as well pick something that is easier for you and which you would enjoy!

Besides, most modules only require you to write one or two long essays, and some do not have proper essays or long essays at all (e.g. most quantitative research methods a.k.a. stats modules; I took many stats modules in my third year, so I only had a 1500-word essay and a 3000-word essay all year!). Consequently, your essays for the same modules are typically spaced out by at least a month (often more). You might have two essays due on the same day, but that only happens if they are for different modules, it is the only/final essay for that module and the deadline is at the end of the term (e.g. in April for a module you start in January), so you have more than enough time to finish them

One constant which I can mention is that as far as I know, you are always or frequently told about the essays at the beginning of the module or shortly after you start the module. In practice, that means you are informed of your essay at least a month or two before your essay is due (most of the time, I knew my essay topics two-three months before the deadline). At my university, most of my essays were basically 'you pick any conflict you want and try to explain it with a theory we have studied', which allowed for great flexibility and freedom of choice. All in all, I was definitely not swamped with long essays every week or fortnight or anything :lol:
Last edited by Michiyo; 1 year ago
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Michiyo
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(Original post by howisladypole)
Thank you, this was incredibly useful, as I'm sure it will be for OP too. I'm pretty sure I want to do International Relations over Human Geography. Would you say research in Health and Disease, or similar, is more in Human Geography? I love that area though I'd be ok with not doing it.
I am so sorry for replying late Health and disease research is definitely more of a Human Geography area than an International Relations area, but depending on the topic, it can overlap with politics, so there are positions related to health and disease research in the civil service and NGOs too
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howisladypole
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(Original post by Michiyo)
I am so sorry for replying late Health and disease research is definitely more of a Human Geography area than an International Relations area, but depending on the topic, it can overlap with politics, so there are positions related to health and disease research in the civil service and NGOs too
Ok that makes sense, thank you for the reply!
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JJW224
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Thank you, this was incredibly useful, for someone who is in their first year of A levels and wants some direction in their studies. Any advice for looking at which university is the best for you ? Also is an EPQ with it ?
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