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Study information

Concepts in Geography

Module titleConcepts in Geography
Module codeGEO1316
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Professor John Wylie (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module introduces you to the major contexts in which modern geography operates, including its historical roots, the development of the discipline and the relationships between the social and natural sciences within geography. You will also explore some of the key ways in which geographers have come to understand natural and social worlds, notably through the concepts including space, place, scale, globalisation and time. In so doing, a mixture of field and lecture-based learning will provide you with the opportunity to learn about the role of contested knowledges in the research process and the ways in which academics and practitioners contribute to key debates within society.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module has four aims:

  • To gain an initial understanding of the ways in which geography operates within Higher Education contexts.
  • To appreciate the historical development of the discipline and how this has shaped the ways in which knowledge is constructed and consumed.
  • To examine the place of geographical enquiry within the broader philosophies of science and social science.
  • To introduce you to core concepts in geography through the lens of contemporary geographical debates.

Through active participation in the module, the aim is that you will further develop the following academic and professional skills:

  • Problem solving (developing own ideas with confidence, identifying and using appropriate sources of information, selectively collecting and collating appropriate information).
  • Managing structure (identifying key demands of the task, setting clearly defined goals, conceptualising central issues within the task, developing strategies to ensure individual progress).
  • Time management (managing time effectively individually).
  • The application of critical analytical skills in relation to a range of key concepts and issues.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe the key concepts used in geography
  • 2. Rationalise the place of geographical enquiry within the wider philosophy of science
  • 3. Discuss the role of geographical enquiry in critical educational and political contexts
  • 4. Analyse critically the ways in which geographical knowledge is constructed and consumed

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Illustrate and discuss the contested and provisional nature of knowledge and understanding
  • 6. Describe a diverse range of approaches to the generation of knowledge and understanding
  • 7. Outline the nature of change within natural systems and their relationship to human societies
  • 8. Discuss reciprocal relationships between physical and human environments

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Communicate ideas, principles and theories effectively and fluently
  • 10. Develop a sustained and reasoned argument
  • 11. Identify, acquire, analyse and synthesise information from a range of sources.
  • 12. Undertake independent/self-directed and reflective study/learning (including time management) to achieve consistent, proficient and sustained attainment

Syllabus plan

Concepts in Geography is organised into three complementary sections. In the first, introductory section you will learn about the key contexts in which geography operates today at University-levels, and about the wider traditions of critical inquiry and scientific reasoning that underpin the geographical work done by students, researchers and academic staff.

The second section of the module, ‘Geography’s Histories’, introduces key issues and episodes that have contributed to the formation of today’s geography. You will learn about the subject’s origins and development, and its linkages to exploration, empire and science. You will also be introduced to more recent changes and trends within both human and physical geography, thereby gaining a plural sense of how geographers today come to know and understand the world.

The third part of the module will introduce you to some of the core concepts which underpin geography as a discipline (space, place, globalisation and time). You will explore how these concepts factor and figure differently within the social and natural science wings of Geography, and learn about the links between concept development and grounded research,

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Lectures
Guided Independent Study3Preparation for formative assessments
Guided Independent Study125Reading for examination during Term 1

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In-class discussions of learning strategies regarding Concepts materials1 hour 1-4, 9-12In-class from lecturers
In-class discussions of past examination questions and exam technique1 hourAllIn-class from lecturers

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination (January)1001.5 hours1-12Oral from pastoral tutor

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExamination1-12August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Agnew, J.A. and Livingstone, D.N. 2011. The SAGE Handbook of Geographical Knowledge. Sage – available as an ebook.
  • Castree, N., Rogers, A. and Sherman, D. (eds) (2005) Questioning Geography (Blackwell, Oxford) – available as an ebook.
  • Clifford, N. J., Holloway, S. Rice, S. P. and Valentine, G. (2009) Key Concepts in Geography (Sage, London). 2nd edition.
  • Cloke, P, Crang, M., Goodwin, M. 2004. Envisioning Human Geographies. London: Arnold, 2004.
  • Cresswell, T. 2004. Place: A Short Introduction. Blackwell – available as an ebook.
  • Cresswell, T 2013 Geographic Thought: An Introduction. Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell – available as an ebook
  • Hubbard, P., Kitchen, R., Bartley, B., Fuller, D. 2005. Thinking Geographically: space, theory and contemporary human geography. Continuum. available as an ebook.
  • Hubbard, P., Kitchen, R., Valentine, G., 2004. Key thinkers on space and place, Sage.
  • Inkpen, R. and Wilson, G., 2013. Science, philosophy and physical geography. Routledge.
  • Johnston, R.J., Gregory, D. and Smith, D.M. (eds) (2009) Dictionary of Human Geography, 5th Edition (Oxford Blackwell, 2009)
  • Johnston, R.J. 2004. Geography and Geographers; Anglo-American Human Geography since 1945 (6th ed). London: Arnold.
  • Trudgill, S and Roy, A. 2003. Contemporary Meanings in Physical Geography. Arnold – available as an ebook.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Geography, concepts, principles

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date