This module provides an introduction to a range of fundamental geographical methods, techniques and resources that are relevant to studying social and physical environments at a number of spatial scales. It introduces, applies and develops basic geographical field, cartographic and analytical techniques both statistical and non-statistical, together with the relevant key concepts, in a range of practical projects and/or exercises many of which are needed for year two modules and that are relevant in the workplace. You will be expected to learn independently and with others and to communicate the results of work both in written form and verbally.
Geography of a Changing World
This introductory module provides a broad synthesis of contemporary thinking within human geography. The module places an emphasis on the explanation of spatial differentiation phenomena at a variety of scales from the global to the local. The module specifically focuses on issues of inequality and unequal dependence within the modern world system, through the recognition of core-periphery relationships and the importance of globalisation. It examines the evolution of core and periphery relationships, and the emergence of a semi-periphery in detail.
The Physical Environment
This introductory module examines the broad area of environmental geography. It develops awareness of the essential concepts, principles and theories of how environmental processes work at a range of scales and starts to challenge some commonly held pre-conceptions. The module adopts an integrated, systematic approach to physical geography and starts by discussing how the nature of the discipline has developed over time. The module develops an understanding of a selection of environmental processes (geomorphological, biogeographical, oceanic and atmospheric) and shows how these processes are dynamic, can cause change and may be applied to sustainable management of the environment.
World Regional Geography
In an ever more globalised world it is more important now than ever before to appreciate the diversity of landscapes, people and cultures around the globe. As globalisation makes the world an ever smaller place it is imperative that geographers today have a sound knowledge of the world in which they live. This module, therefore, develops a basic knowledge of places and their characteristics and provides a global view of world geography. The module explores every world region, so that you familiarise yourself with the world you live in.
Likely optional modules
Year one: Single Honours students may wish to take a language module, in which case they can opt out of one of these modules.
People, Nature and Place
This module introduces key ideas concerning the relationship between people and the environment and changing views of the natural world. The module investigates how geography and related disciplines have viewed the relationship between society and the natural environment and develops understanding of both the impact of the environment on society (from environmental determinism to ideas of socially constructed nature) and the recognition of human agency in the landscape. It explores the impact of demographic, technological and economic pressures associated with societal development and processes of globalisation on environmental resources and their role in the growth of the concept of sustainable development.
Settlement of South East England
This module explores the changing human environment of south east England at successive phases in the sequence of settlement, from prehistory to the present. The module demonstrates the need for a historical perspective in understanding the characteristics of cultural landscapes and uses a series of case studies to explore the interplay between settlement and environment, in response to technological and social change over time. This will be complemented by an examination of contemporary issues relating to strategic planning and settlement policy in England’s most crowded region to enhance awareness both of the dilemmas which planners face and also of the fundamental importance of geographical factors in the formulation of settlement policy.
Geography and Geographers
Geography and Geographers has a central role within the geography course. The module is a pre-requisite for the Field Investigation module and Independent Geographical Study modules. The principal aim of the module is to introduce you to the scope and academic identity of geography as a discipline by identifying significant phases in geography’s academic development and examining its changing relationship with other disciplines. The module emphasises the relevance of geography to social and environmental issues and evaluates the role of the geographer in environmental management and spatial planning. By emphasising the identity of the discipline, the module provides a focus for reflection on possible future careers. In doing so, the module introduces different academic research methodologies and shows how these can be used to investigate specific problems.
Field Investigation in Geography
Field Investigation in Geography is a residential field module undertaken in Malta that reaffirms the active engagement with the wider world, which is a hallmark of a geographical education. An important aim of the module is to enable you to appreciate that universal processes and relationships are modified at local scales by the particular characteristics of individual places. The module provides an invaluable opportunity to undertake structured investigations in an unfamiliar geographical setting, drawing especially on the methods and techniques introduced within the Geography and Geographers module. The module introduces general procedural matters relating to good field work practice and a range of field survey techniques, some of which will be practised during a residential field week. This will ensure that those students who undertake a field-based Independent Geographical Study in year three are sufficiently prepared.
The week involves a common academic programme on certain days, ensuring that all students are introduced to the major policy issues relating, for example, to environmental conflict and spatial management. However, further opportunities are given to explore particular themes, either in human or physical geography, depending on your academic background and interests. The week culminates with work on small group projects, on topics selected by students in consultation with staff.
Likely optional modules
Biogeography and Landscape Ecology
This module examines the distribution of organisms and soils in space and time, and the environmental factors, including anthropogenic, that determine or limit these distributions. The module introduces landscape ecology and its importance in conservation management. It also introduces the world’s major biomes and more detailed study of habitats and micro habitats by drawing on a range of areas within the geographic and life sciences such as geology, climatology, palaeontology, plant and animal systematics, evolution and ecology. Biogeographical and landscape ecological processes are also important to other fields of geography; for example food production systems, sustainable livelihoods, etc., and the module examines human impacts on biogeographic systems the means by which these systems can be managed in a sustainable manner.
Environment and Development
Understanding the environmental problems facing the countries of the developing world and encouraging critical evaluation of various approaches to solving these problems is essential for managing environmental resources on a sustainable basis. This module examines these issues within the context of the historical legacy of colonialism and its environmental impacts, and the contemporary world economic and (geo)political system. It introduces and evaluates theories of development and how these affect the understanding of the exploitation of environmental resources of developing areas. It examines the evolution of varying forms of ‘environmentalism’ relating to developing areas. Environmentalist philosophies, as these underpin action, can be broadly divided into ‘technocentric’ and ‘ecocentric’ – a broad division which is utilised in the module to evaluate the nature and success of specific approaches to dealing with environmental problems. The module also explores a range of management approaches and techniques to evaluate their appropriateness for sustainable development.
The Geography of North America
This module develops understanding of the contemporary geography of the USA and Canada and reflects upon the dominant processes of spatial change in these two countries. It critically and objectively makes the links between society and environment using primary sources of data and information. The module adopts a thematic approach with frequent reference to regions so that your can appreciate the wide variations in regional equality and regional development.
Understanding the well-established principles of process geomorphology is a prerequisite for any environmental management. This module examines the processes that operate within a selection of geomorphological systems and shows the relationship between process and landform at a range of scales within a modern conceptual framework. This module includes a field exercise that provides data that are used for critical analysis, problem solving and interpretation an environment and to produce a reasoned scientific argument structured as a research paper.
Introduction to Mapping and GIS
Geographical Information Systems (GIS) have been utilised for over quarter of a century, however, there is still a rapid growth in the applications of GIS to a wide range of business, public and academic fields. This module provides the practical and theoretical aspects of GIS and the fundamentals of cartographic design required to produce meaningful GIS results. To appreciate the potential and scope of GIS, an exploration of the core aspects (principles) of the subject is made, concluding with a variety of relevant case studies. Given the desirability of acquiring a large degree of practical software skills, in a number of complex and varied programmes, a substantial aim of the module is to provide ‘hands-on’ use of GIS, using industry standard hardware and software.
New Europe: Uneven Development
The aim of the module is to introduce the contemporary human geography of Europe. The module draws primarily on case study material relating to continental Europe. It explores regional inequalities and uneven development. A particular emphasis is placed on population geography as an integrating theme through which current issues relating to migration, ethnic patterns and population structures can be examined at various geographical scales. In addition the module examines the dramatic economic transformation that Europe has experienced over the last few decades in the context of globalisation and European integration.
Understanding Past Climate Change
Climate change is a critical concern these days, but many argue that to understand today’s climate change fully we have to understand how climates have changed in the past. This module examines the methods used by scientists to reconstruct past climates and environments and examines the theories proposed to explain the changes identified. It provides a geological context for understanding present day environmental problems and develops an awareness of the interaction between oceanic, atmospheric and cryospheric systems in explaining change.
Independent Geographical Study
The Independent Geographical Study is the culmination of your learning experience in Geography. It draws upon the wide range of intellectual and key skills developed throughout the course, and applies those skills towards the completion of an individual and substantial piece of research work related to an area of interest within Geography. In consultation with, and support of, your supervisor, you will select a topic for investigation using primary and/or secondary data. You will take responsibility for your own learning and need to display individual thought and initiative in the analysis and interpretation of the geographical issues studied.
Likely optional modules
Advanced GIS and Remote Sensing
This module further develops your critical understanding of the practical and theoretical aspects of GIS. It builds on the understanding and skills developed in the Introduction to Mapping and GIS module taken in year two (a prerequisite for this module). It aims to develop an understanding of a range of theoretical perspectives including point, area and network spatial analyses, plus associated areas such as map generalisation, data error problems, data standards, digital terrain analysis, remote sensing and image generation and manipulation that will allow students to apply GIS to real geographical issues.
Applied Physical Geography: Climate and Society
This module examines how society uses the climatic environment and investigates how climatic change during the latter part of the Holocene has affected society. The module aims to develop understanding of the reciprocal relationship between the physical and human environments by examining how human activity uses, alters and is altered by climatic processes. Since scientists believe that increasing use of the atmospheric system is likely to increase future climatic change (‘global warming’), and that this may increasingly threaten human societies, the module aims to examine the possible environmental impacts and critically evaluate issues associated with managing the environment.
Cities: Society, Economy and Space
In the 21st century, cities are once again at the centre of intellectual and political debate; for the first time in history the majority of the world’s population live in cities. This module examines the historical and contemporary processes producing the differentiation of urban space at a range of geographical scales from the global to the neighbourhood. It provides a detailed introduction to urban geography with a comparative international perspective and examines the changing and developing geographies of cities, the interdependent processes that bring about urbanisation and the spatial processes that affect contemporary society.
The Countryside: Conservation and Management
This module investigates countryside and rural planning policies and associated management issues, as well as introducing specific conservation and management approaches and techniques. A major theme is the study of land as a multiple resource, with emphasis on conflicting interests and uses. The module concentrates on the United Kingdom, but draws on material from Europe and elsewhere as appropriate. The past, present and future of countryside conservation is inherently linked to changing patterns of land use and to the economic, social and political processes and pressures which contribute to change.
Global Economic Systems
The aim of the module is to familiarise you with key themes in the study of economic geography and associated systems and enable you to situate economic geography within a wider understanding of geography. In particular the module focuses on spatial outcomes of economic theory, policy and issues at a variety of spatial scales. In a globalising world it is important that you recognise the role the economic decision making process plays in conceptualising the distinctive nature of particular places while also highlighting difference and inequality between places. The module aims to emphasise the dynamic nature of the global economy so as to provide an understanding of, and framework for, change at more localised levels.
Regions of Risk: Human and Environmental Security
There is an increasing public awareness of the nature and importance of natural hazards and their potential effects on humans and the environment. The module aims to introduce the spatial and social dimensions of vulnerability to hazards by examining the connections between the risks people face and the reasons for their vulnerability. In recent years, the redistribution of risk has created conditions for natural and technological disasters to become more widespread, more difficult to manage, and more discriminatory in their effects. It critically examines why geophysical or biological events are often implicated in some way as the trigger event or the main link in a chain of causes in disasters yet there are social, economic and political factors that cause people’s vulnerability and influence how hazards affect people in differing ways and with differing intensity.
Space, Place and Politics
This module examines the scope and methods of political geography as a dynamic subfield within human geography and demonstrates its relevance to specific contemporary issues. It highlights the central role of territorial questions as a potential cause of regional conflict and explores the relationships between spatial and political structures and processes, at a range of geographical scales from the regional to the global. The module encourages a reflective and critical engagement with current issues relating to place and identity by exploring the interplay between regional, national and transnational allegiances, especially in a European context. The module also interprets the unstable global geopolitics of the post-Cold War world, using appropriate geopolitical models as a framework.