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Five unusual geography courses

Five unusual geography coursesMost universities offer plain geography degrees, but there are more unusual courses on offer, from exploring oceans to dealing with volcanoes.

Ocean exploration

This course at Plymouth University combines studying the oceans with learning about the techniques used to explore them. That means learning how to map and survey the oceans, using state-of-the-art equipment on loan from businesses, and even an optional diving module that leads to a professional diving qualification.

Graduates won't be sailing off into the unknown these days, but they will have the skills they need for careers such as searching for oil reserves.

Coastal geography

A subject for people who like life on the edge. Most of the world's population lives near the coast, and the meeting of land and sea means that there's a lot to study. Coastal geographers look at how tides and waves shape the land, and how activity on the coast affects sea life.

Don't expect to study coastal geography from a distance: you'll need a coastal university like Bangor, which has its own ocean-going research ship.

River and coastal engineering

This combination of geography and engineering is vital for protecting people from floods. Students learn the scientific and geographical knowledge needed to understand how flooding happens, and the engineering skills to control and prevent it.

The University of the West of England (UWE) offers a river and coastal engineering degree course, which can lead to Incorporated Engineer status.

Natural hazard management

If you've ever wanted to know how to survive a volcano, a degree in natural hazard management could be a good start. The University of Chester's course includes a field trip to Mount Vesuvius, as well as study of earthquakes, flooding and other natural threats. Students also learn a variety of geographical skills that can be applied in a wide range of careers.

Sustainable rural development

Available at the University of the Highlands and Islands, this course looks at all the elements involved in managing the countryside sustainably. That doesn't just mean looking after the environment, but also understanding the economics of rural development and the social issues surrounding it.

A sustainable rural development degree can lead to a career in conservation, project management or local government.