Our medals and awards are among the most prestigious in the world and have been presented since 1830.
Our medals and awards have long recognised the outstanding achievements of geographers, including eminent scientists, school teachers, early career researchers and those involved in policy making. Neil Armstrong, Sir David Attenborough, Sylvia Earle, Simon King, Neil Oliver, Professor Lord Nicholas Stern and Professor Edward O Wilson are among the recipients.
From its foundation, the Society received an annual grant of 50 guineas from the reigning monarch to be awarded with royal approval 'for the encouragement and promotion of geographical science and discovery'. Initially the award was given in money, then from 1836-38 as a Royal Medal.
In 1839, it was decided to divide the award and since then we have awarded two medals: the Patron's Medal and the Founder's Medal. Both are of equal value and merit.
The Royal Medals were originally made in fine gold (except during the years 1918-21 when they were made in bronze), but since 1975 they have been made in silver gilt. Medals were not awarded in the years 1850, 1851, 1855, 1943 and 1944.
The Founder's Medal
Designed by W Wyon, the Founder's Medal is engraved with the recipient's name and the date of the award. One side of the medal displays the head of King William IV and on the reverse is the figure of Minerva standing in front of a globe, holding a wreath and a scroll. A sextant and other surveying instruments lay at her feet.
The Patron's Medal
Designed by W Wyon (and subsequently A Wyon and then AG Wyon), the Patron's Medal is engraved with the recipient's name and the date of the award. One side of the medal displays the head of young Queen Victoria and on the reverse is the figure of Minerva as on the Founder's Medal.
The heads of Edward II, King George V, Edward VIII, George VI, young head of Elizabeth II have also appeared on the medal.
Take a look at our video to learn more about the Society's medals and awards, or for more information about their history and past recipients, please consult The Geographical Journal.
The 2017 medals and awards presentation took place during the Society's Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 5 June 2017, at the Society in Kensington, London.
B Monday 24 September 2.30pm - 4.00pm Be Inspired afternoon talk
Alastair Macdonald talks about his time with the Directorate of Overseas Surveys when during the 1950s and 60s many Commonwealth countries were mapped at 1:50000. He describes some of the techniques and experiences involved in the pre-GPS age.
10 September 2018
Levison talks about his latest expeditions, his early travels and his motivation. In considering the age old question of why people explore, he explains what draws him to the wilderness.
12 February 2018
As a charity, learned society and professional body, we reach millions of people each year through our work in advancing geography and supporting geographers.
Find out how you can support our work in advancing geographical knowledge.
By placing a booking, you are permitting us to store and use your (and any other attendees) details in order to fulfil the booking.
We will not use your details for marketing purposes without your explicit consent.
You must be a member holding a valid Society membership to view the content you are trying to access. Please login to continue.
Join us today, Society membership is open to anyone with a passion for geography
Cookies on the RGS website