Exploring Human Geography
The module provides you with introductory knowledge about current issues in human geography. It critically examines the complex relations between people and places through key themes and concepts in current human geography.
Attention is given to innovative work in cultural, historical, medical, environmental, economic and development geography and to the traditionally broad perspective of human geography as a whole. The module will examine a variety of key themes that may vary from year to year. This module provides a foundation for more specialised human geography modules at levels 2 and 3.
Earth and Environmental Dynamics
This module integrates knowledge taken from the hydrosphere, oceans and continents to inform an understanding of global physical systems as they affect people and the environment. The module considers:
- hydrological cycles
- principles of Earth and geomorphological systems
- fluvial geomorphology and biogeomorphology
Geographical Field Course
A four day, intensive period of residential field study. Teaching will concentrate on the rationale and techniques of field study in both human and physical aspects of geography. Particular emphasis is placed on the design, practice and analysis of small research projects based on geographical issues.
Small-group teaching is central to this module; you will work in a small group throughout, and much of the teaching involves direct interaction between staff (and postgraduate demonstrators) and the small groups of students.
Interpreting Geographical Data
This module provides the basic statistical concepts and techniques required for the study of geography. Topics include:
- spreadsheets and statistical packages
- introduction to statistical concepts
- descriptive statistics and distributions
- exploratory data analysis
- parametric and non-parametric tests
- correlation and regression
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
The module provides you with the theoretical background and practical training to undertake basic spatial analysis within a contemporary Geographic Information System (GIS).
It is built upon a structured set of paired theory lectures and practical sessions, supported by detailed theory topics delivered via Moodle, which contain linkages to associated textbook resources. It aims to ensure competency in the use of a contemporary GIS software package whilst developing transferable ICT skills.
It also encourages you to develop the analytical skills necessary for the creation of workflows that utilise the built-in analytical functionality of a GIS to solve a spatial problem.
Small group tutorials in both the autumn and spring semesters in which emphasis will be placed on discussion, essay writing and seminar presentations which will be based on topics in the qualifying year geography modules and from broader intellectual, cultural and political fields.
Careers Skills for Geographers
This module covers:
- self-marketing and CVs
- preparing for interviews and assessment
- careers for geographers
- subject-focused vocational talk
- postgraduate study (masters and PhD)
- guest lectures (for example, from Royal Geographical Society - Institute of British Geographers)
- career planning
Topics will be delivered by the school's Career Advisor from the Careers and Employability Service and academics from the School of Geography.
Importantly, you will be expected to make regular use of the Careers and Employability Service to assist with progress during the year and attend a range of employer presentations and other events (for example, employer fairs).
The module introduces you to geographical research on place, conveying current research in the field, including that carried out within the School of Geography. You will gain knowledge of key concepts and methodological approaches, with understanding developed through the examination of place-based case studies.
Lectures will outline developments in the geographical study of place in recent decades, and explore key themes such as place and memory, place and knowledge, and place and identity. The challenges and opportunities offered by the digital exploration of place will be outlined, using case studies of digital mapping and the public display of geographical information. Regional case studies will show how the research themes presented in the module can be brought together around the study of specific places and landscapes.
Throughout the module, staff will draw upon their own research as well as the wider academic literature, giving students a sense of the possibilities of geographical research exploring place.
Tracing Economic Globalisation
The module introduces you to contemporary and historical approaches to understanding economic globalisation and its spatial unevenness. You will develop knowledge relating to globalisation as a set of discourses and practices using case studies relating to key themes of relevance.
Lectures will outline the key debates relating to globalisation as a phenomenon and will interrogate the relevance of the concept through an examination of commodities, labour and work, governance and money and finance.
You will also explore the spatial unevenness of globalisation, and develop understandings of the ways in which globalisation has contributed to an increasingly unequal and differentiated society at a variety of scales. Alternatives to globalisation will also be discussed, focusing upon various counter-globalisation strategies in the forms of localism, activism and protest.
Throughout the module, staff will draw upon their own research as well as the wider academic literature, giving you a sense of the complexity, and importance, of globalisation as a set of theories and a set of sited realities.
On Earth and Life
On Earth and Life explores the deep historical co-evolution of Earth and Life and emphasises uniqueness of place and historical contingency. The module leads on from and complements Physical Landscapes of Britain in exploring geological, plate tectonic and palaeoenvironmental ideas and research, but at the global scale.
It emphasises the role of life in creating past and present planetary environments, and conversely the role of environment and environmental change in the evolution and geography of life. The module also serves to prepare the ground for and contextualise several second and third year geography modules, especially Environmental Change and Patterns of Life.
Physical Landscapes of Britain
This module provides an understanding of the history and origins of the Earth and its life and landforms through consideration of the following topics:
- Development of life over geological time
- Environmental changes over geological time
- Field trip to the Peak District (full costs will be suppliednearer the time of the trip)
Q-Step Quantitative Methods pathway
You can choose to take a specialised pathway as part of your course, graduating with a BA Geography (Quantitative Methods) degree. This pathway is designed to integrate training in the quantitative analysis of a range of datasets. In order to graduate with the 'Quantitative Methods' qualifier, you will need to follow the Q-Step pathway through your degree, selecting 20 credits of Q-Step modules per year (as well as applying the quantitative skills you have developed to your dissertation).
Quantitative Methods for Social Science 1
This module focuses on quantitative methods for the social sciences, and in particular the acquisition of 'quantitative literacy'. The main topics of interest are:
- the character of quantitative data
- their use in description, explanation and forecasting
- their visualisation
- character and use of inferential statistics in the social sciences
- performing basic hypothesis tests
- evaluating reports of quantitative analyses as used in policy, business, regulations and academic literature
- working with statistical software
Throughout the semester there are weekly one-hour lectures, weekly two-hour seminars, plus two four-hour workshops. The module assessment is one 2,000-word piece of coursework.
Quantitative Methods for Social Science 2
This module continues from Quantitative Methods for Social Science 1, which is a prerequisite. The main topics of interest are the character and use of multivariate analysis, and the application of these topics in empirical social science research and in applied non-academic research. Practical training in these topics will be an integral part of the module.
Throughout the semester there are weekly two-hour lectures, weekly two-hour seminars, plus two four-hour workshops. The module assessment is one 2,000-word piece of coursework.
This module will cover the breadth of world-leading research being carried out in the School of Geography and is reflected in the school's research themes:
- Cultural and Historical Geography
- Economic Worlds
- Environment and Society
For students taking Geography with Business or Environmental Sciences, content of tutorials will be restricted to meet the aims of these courses.
This module is taught by formal lectures, scheduled preliminary fieldwork, and supervision meetings with your dissertation tutor. It covers the following:
- Introduction to the dissertation process and procedures
- What is a dissertation?
- Ethics, risk and safety implications when conducting geographical research
- Preparing a dissertation proposal
- Writing and presenting a dissertation
- Evaluation of past dissertations
Techniques in Human Geography
This module allows you to understand and experience human geography research methods through participation in three practical projects. The module covers methods for: arts and humanities research (such as archival research, visual and textual analysis); social science research (such as interviewing, questionnaires and discussion groups); and quantitative human geography research (such as mapping and visualisation).
Cultural and Historical Geography
This module introduces you to cultural and historical geography including the:
- development of cultural and historical geography as sub-disciplines
- key thematic areas of contemporary cultural and historical geography, including landscape, identity, culture, power and knowledge
- theoretical underpinnings of cultural and historical geography
- links between cultural and historical geography and other fields of enquiry in the humanities and social sciences
- methods and sources used in cultural and historical geographical research, including archives, texts and images, and field study
- work of key figures from the sub-disciplines past and present
This module will cover the following topics:
- Economic globalisation
- Changing geographies of the world economy during the 20th century
- Economic geographies of advanced producer services
- Global cities, financial geographies
- Alternative economies and criminality
This module explores aspects of medical geography, with special reference to the geography of infectious diseases. Topics include:
- the nature of medical geography and the geography of health
- the history of medical geography
- epidemiological concepts
- the disease record
- the epidemiological transition
- spatial diffusion of infectious diseases
- the geography of disease emergence and re-emergence
- islands as epidemiological laboratories
- geography of war and disease
- disease forecasting and control
Rural Environmental Geography
This module explores a range of rural environmental issues in the global South and modern Britain from the perspective of a range of different stakeholders. Particular attention is placed on how environmental use and management varies over time and space and in relation to socio-economic status, gender and community. Key topics examined are:
- the growth of environmentalist and conservationist thinking
- the evolution of development thinking
- the impacts of colonial policy-making on rural environments in the global South
- agrarian change, the green revolution and sustainable agriculture
- different types of environmental knowledge, including indigenous and certified expertise
- gender, environmental use and management
- participatory appraisal approaches in the global South
- the ways in which policy has shaped the British countryside since the post-World War II period
- the rise of agri-environmentalism
- rural sustainable development
- rural resource conservation
- the prospects for future landscape change in Britain
This module introduces you to urban geography, including the:
- historical development of urban geography as a sub-discipline
- key thematic areas of contemporary urban geography, including research in the social, economic and cultural and historical geographies of cities
- theoretical underpinnings of approaches to urban geography
- importance of cities in understanding social difference, cultural landscapes and economic development in the Global North and South
- work of key figures from the sub-disciplines past and present
Digital Explorers: Finding Geospatial Patterns in a Changing World
This module provides a consideration of the following:
- Introduction to GI science/systems/studies/services
- Spatial data types and sources
- Vector processing algorithms
- Raster processing algorithms
- Spatial analysis and decision making
- Professional training in ArcGIS
This module considers the mechanisms for, and evidence of, global environmental change during the timescale of the Quaternary period. The nature, causes and impacts of change are evaluated in the context of the available evidence within a range of natural and human environments.
Patterns of Life
The module focuses on patterns in the distribution of organisms in space and time, and theories proposed to explain those patterns. The main themes are:
- biodiversity patterns
- island biogeography and nature conservation theory
- ecological succession
- biological invasions
- extinction and mass extinctions
- quaternary refugia and the palaeoecological record
River Processes and Dynamics
- introduces the water and sediment processes that operate in rivers
- describes the characteristic forms of alluvial channels and the links between river processes and channel dynamics
- uses laboratory practicals and a field trip to deliver kinaesthetic, student-centred learning and add value to teaching and learning during lectures
Topics covered include:
- catchments and longitudinal patterns
- river planforms: braided, meandering and straight
- timescales of river change and morphological adjustments
- complex response in the fluvial system
- flow resistance, sediment transport and bank erosion
- an introduction to biogeomorphology and aquatic ecology
This is a 10,000 word individual project based on a geographical topic involving fieldwork and/or secondary data, and agreed by the candidate with their tutor and a specialist supervisor.
The Cultural Geography of English Landscape
The module addresses issues of landscape and culture in England from the 18th century to the present day. Key themes throughout include landscape and national identity and relations of city and country.
The module utilises sources including archives, literature, paintings, prints, poetry, maps, film and photography.
The first semester focuses on issues of landscape and Englishness since 1880. Topics covered include tradition and modernism, competing notions of heritage, the cultural politics of land, and questions of citizenship and the body. The second semester focuses on landscapes of Georgian England. Topics covered include parks and gardens; colonial landscapes; agriculture; industry and science; towns; and transport and travel.
Throughout the module the focus on landscape allows the exploration of key areas of cultural history. A one-day field trip to Derwent Valley is arranged, full costs will be provided nearer the time of the trip.
Environment, Development and Livelihoods
This module investigates key linkages between development, livelihood and environmental problems in the global South with particular reference to competition and conflict over environmental resources. Attention is placed on exploring livelihood-environment interactions from the perspectives of different income, gender and community groups and contrasting their everyday realities with key development concepts and aggregate statistics.
Major themes examined include:
- Linkages between poverty, environmental quality and livelihoods
- Integration of environmental issues into development thinking and practice
- Debates about overpopulation versus overconsumption
- Urban environmental problems
- Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and livelihoods
- Industry-related environment, development and livelihood issues
- Slum dwellers and informal sector workers
- Competition and conflict in agrarian environments
- Forest-based development and livelihood issues
European Urban Geographies (Berlin field course)
This module covers:
- the historical development of a major European city, to be visited on a field excursion (full costs will be supplied nearer the time of the trip)
- a critical approach to the cultural, historical, social and economic geography of same city
- a wide range of methodologies for conducting urban field work
Small group teaching is integral to the module. You are assigned into a group of three or four for the purposes of conducting small group project work while in Berlin. Frequent meetings are held between teaching staff and the small groups before, during and after the field course to support preparation for and the carrying out of research while in Berlin, as well as the writing-up of individual reports.
The Geographical Imagination
This module will review the history of geography over the past three centuries to provide a deeper understanding of contemporary debates, and provide a cultural and historical analysis of the nature of geography as an academic subject and field of knowledge.
The first semester considers the emergence of geography as a self-consciously 'enlightened' 18th century science and reviews some of the factors that influenced its subsequent development, including cartography and mapping, exploration and field observation, evolutionary and early social scientific theories, the rise of civic education, national and imperial politics, radical and revolutionary ideas, and warfare and geopolitics.
The second semester focuses on the 20th century to consider connections between field cultures and geographical knowledge, the visual cultures of geography, links between geography and Cold War politics, and ideas of geography as spatial science. Attention is given throughout to the biographies of key figures exercising the geographical imagination.
Geographies of Fashion and Food
This module covers a range of issues relating to the geographies of fashion and food. Topics covered include:
- commodity chains, global networks of supply and regulation
- the embodied and material practices of food and fashion consumption
- branding, labelling, consumer knowledges and reflexive consumption
- commodity biographies, origins and the social life of things
- retail power, architecture and space
- theorising agency and value
- transforming, industrialising and globalising food
- city foodscapes
- alternative food networks and food quality
- gender and food provisioning
Geographies of Money and Finance
This module explores the economic geographies of money and of contemporary processes of financialisation. Competing theories of money, and the changing landscapes of finance and the financial services industry are explored at a variety of spatial scales.
Spaces examined include the global financial system, the UK retail financial market, the City of London and the emergence of local currency systems. More specifically, the following core topics are covered:
- Financial crisis
- The history and theory of money
- Financial services and financial intermediation
- Globalisation and the international financial system
- The City of London as international financial centre
- Landscapes of retail financial services
- Alternative and imagined landscapes of money
Geographies of Violence
This module will cover:
- political, historical, and cultural geographies of war
- spaces of internal violence and non-violence relating to colonialism, anti-colonialism, religious nationalism, and decolonisation/partition
- spaces of terrorism and the war against terror
- case studies from a variety of national and international contexts
The Landscape History of Liguria (Italy field course)
An interdisciplinary module which introduces the principles of historical ecology and landscape history, drawing on a wide range of sources including historical maps and documents, field survey of vegetation and landscape features and oral history using Liguria as a case study. This includes a field trip to Liguria, full costs will be supplied nearer the time of the trip.
Geospatial Technologies: Mobile, Augmented and Virtual
This module focuses on the uptake of digital geographic information across a wide range of applications in society and the research agenda that is underpinning these developments. We will explore the use of location-aware mobile devices and techniques for geo-visualisation that are visually immersive and interactive. Content is organised as follows:
Part I: Digital Geographic Information in the public domain
Here we consider how a convergence of technologies (positioning, communication and processing) has allowed digital geographic information to make an impact 'beyond the desktop' at both a global scale through the web, and at a personal scale via the mobile device. This includes virtual globes, 'open' and 'linked' geographic information, Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI), location-based services, and mobile geospatial apps.
Part II: Virtual Geographic Environments
Here we look at the role and impact of multi-dimensional geographic visualisation to support decision making, environmental impact assessment, and the communication of spatial context. This includes animation and 3D graphics, advances in data capture, urban and rural landscape visualisation, interaction design and immersion, augmented and virtual realities.
Environmental Informatics and Modelling
This module will expose you to current practices, technologies and ideas existing at the forefront of environmental modelling. The module offers an opportunity for you to experience the theory and practice associated with key developments that are occurring in major modelling domains and the most recent advances from the research community.
Hands-on experience of using machine-learning software and developing data-driven models will be an integral part of the learning experience.
The module will comprise four parts:
- Modelling the impacts of climate change
- Modelling biogeography
Global Climate Change
The module covers the following:
- A review of modern climate systems and forcings
- Climate modelling, projections of future climate change and their uncertainty
- Controversies around climate change, the argument between believers and sceptics and the ways in which climate change is communicated to and perceived by the public
- The impact of climate change on the world's physical and built environments, water and food resources, and human health
- Mitigation and adaptation to future climate change including the role played by policy markers and NGOs
Practical River Management and Restoration (Mount St. Helens field course)
This field-based module examines river processes and dynamics within the context of human efforts to manage and restore dynamic river systems. The module is taught during a 12-day field course to the Mt St. Helens National Monument in Washington State, USA and a four-week river change detection and visualisation project that will run through the remainder of the autumn semester.
The post-1980 eruption landscape of Mt St. Helens and its wider region is one of the world's most important natural laboratories for the study of severely disrupted rivers. You will enjoy a unique opportunity to gain hands-on, practical skills in river management by working in this exciting and demanding environment. The module is structured around two core questions:
- What are the likely impacts of the Mt St. Helens eruption on the region's river systems, riparian settlements and environments over the next 50 years?
- What are the practical, management options that should be considered for mitigating these impacts?
Quaternary Environments (Mexico field course)
This module considers the quaternary evolution, environmental and settlement history of the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, building explicitly on material covered in Environmental Change. The focus of the course will be evolution of the present climate and environment of the lowland tropics and the interaction between the natural environment and human societies.
The module is based on a 10 day residential field trip to the Yucatan and project work associated with this. Full costs of the field trip will be advised nearer the time of the visit. The main elements are:
- an overview of climate dynamics in the tropics, with particular emphasis on changes in the monsoon, the impact of sea level change and drivers of change from mid-latitudes
- critical review of methods of environmental reconstruction, dating techniques and sampling methods (waters, soils, sediments)
- archives of change relevant to the study area, primarily lakes and cave systems
- quaternary history of the Yucatan
- mesoamerican archaeology and cultural change in the Yucatan
- exploration of the possible role of climate in driving societal change
Scale and Diversity in the Canary Islands
The module involves the study of broad-scale patterns of diversity, endemism and evolution in the Canary Islands using secondary data made available and where necessary collected by students. Independent research by student research groups supported by lectures, training sessions, research development seminars, presentation and feedback sessions, and unlimited consultations with lecturers.
North American Urban Geographies (New York field course)
The module will cover:
- the historical development of a major North American city, to be visited on a field excursion (full costs will be supplied nearer the time of the trip)
- a critical approach to the cultural, historical, social and economic geography of same city
- a wide range of methodologies for conducting urban fieldwork
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.