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GEG4103 Geographical Perspectives

Rating: 15 credits

Prerequisites: None

Lectures: 2 hours per week in semester A

Seminars: -

Practicals: -

Fieldwork:  -

Assessment: Written examination: 70%
                      Course essay: 30%

Module convener: Professor Catherine Nash

Lecturer: Professor Catherine Nash

Module aims:
The module aims to introduce the history of geography alongside key ideas and approaches shaping the discipline today. It aims to provide a clear foundation for understanding the variety of ways in which geographers interpret the world and a broad introduction to studying geography. The module explores the social production of geographical knowledge and considers the historical and political contexts in which such knowledge production takes place.

Module outline:
This module explores the nature of geography and debates about what geography has been, is and should be. In the first part of the course we consider the question of ‘what is geography?’, consider the diversity and contested nature of the discipline and the relationships between academic and popular geography. We then take a step back and consider the historical emergence of the discipline and the historical relationships between geography and imperialism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. This is followed by a field trip to the Royal Geographical Society. We continue to explore the history of the discipline by focusing on the key developments over the course of the twentieth century that have shaped geography today and consider geography’s science, social science and humanities traditions. In the next lectures we consider some of the key practices that are often argued to be distinctively geographical – exploration, fieldwork and mapping – and some of the core concepts of the human geography including space and place, scale. Towards the end of the module we explore the relationship between academic geography and society by considering debates about the subject’s usefulness, the idea of geographers as political or environmental activists and attempts to develop innovative collaborative ways of ‘doing geography’ beyond the boundaries of academic geography.

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge and understanding:

  • an understanding of the history of geography and key ideas and approaches shaping the discipline today,
  • an understanding of the variety of ways in which geographers interpret the world.


  • critical reading and writing skills,
  • analytical engagement with both empirical and theoretical work in geography,
  • analysis of a variety of textual and visual source material,
  • self-reflexive and creative learning.

Preliminary reading:

  • Bonnett, A. (2008) What is geography? London: Sage
  • Castree, N., Rogers, A. and Sherman, D. eds. (2005) Questioning Geography: Fundamental Debates, Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Holloway, S. L., Rice, S. P., and Valentine, G. eds. (2003) Key Concepts in Geography, London: Sage
  • Matthews, J. A. and Herbert, D. T. (2008) Geography: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford; Oxford University Press.
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