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Unit information: Geographical History, Thought and Practices in 2020/21

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Unit name Geographical History, Thought and Practices
Unit code GEOG10002
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. MacLeavy
Open unit status Not open



Key Concepts in Human and Physical Geography, Introduction to Quantitative Geography.

School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides a foundational introduction to some of the key perspectives and skills used in human and physical geography. The unit comprises four key elements: Geographical Practices, Geographical Concepts, Physical Field Skills, and Tutorial Work. Geographical Practices and Concepts introduces the nature and history of Geography as an intellectual enterprise, examining both the earlier history and recent developments, and geographical concepts and their production as a basis for understanding developments in both human and physical geography. Field skills needed in Physical Geography are introduced and applied in a 3-day field course.

The aims of this Unit are:

  • To encourage study, discussion and debate of the history of geographical practices and epistemology, knowledge production, and concept formation.
  • To develop practical skills in physical geography through fieldwork.
  • To develop learning, writing and presentation skills through weekly small-group Tutorials

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this Unit students should be able to:

  1. Present a history of geographical practices, some of the reasons for key changes and the debates which surround them.
  2. Discuss methods and processes of geographical knowledge construction within the discipline.
  3. Apply essential fieldwork techniques in physical geography, execute field experiments, have expertise in the use of appropriate scientific field equipment and apply statistical and computing techniques that have been introduced in laboratory practical classes.
  4. Participate in group discussion and presentations; write well-structured essays and organized report/writing skills; be able to give individual presentations to small groups.

The following transferable skills are developed in this Unit:

  • Written and verbal communication
  • Analytical and interpretative skills
  • Problem definition
  • Knowledge construction
  • Planning
  • Project management
  • Group work and discussion

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through a blended combination of online and, if possible, in-person teaching, including

  • online resources
  • synchronous group workshops, seminars, tutorials and/or office hours
  • asynchronous individual activities and guided reading for students to work through at their own pace
  • practical and/or field work; students who either begin or continue their studies in an online mode may be required to complete laboratory practical and/or field work, or alternative activities, in person, either during the academic year 2020/21 or subsequently, in order to meet the intended learning outcomes for the unit, prepare them for subsequent units or to satisfy accreditation requirements.

Assessment Information

Extended essay: 40%

Portfolio: 60%

Formative: Fieldwork Report

For the extended essay, a 5 page assignment is set and students must analyse three from a list of selected classics in geographical writing.

Students work in groups on three separate projects during the three days of the field course. They are assessed on the basis of oral presentations at the end of each day of the field course.

The portfolio assessment will consist of a number of short assignments which will be completed throughout the year, but will be submitted together at the end of the unit. Completion of the entire portfolio is required for credit.

All ILOs are covered by all three assessments.

Reading and References


1. Clifford, N, Holloway SL, Rice SP, Valentine G (eds. 2009) Key Concepts in Geography (2nd ed) Sage, London. (B1 KEY). ISBN: 9781412930222
2. Couper, P. (2015) A Student’s Introduction to Geographical Thought: Theories, Philosophies, Methodologies. Sage, London. ISBN: 9781446282960
3. Johnston RJ & Sidaway JD (2004) Geography & Geographers (6th edn.), Arnold, London. (N JOH). ISBN: 9780340808603
4. Livingstone, D (1992) The Geographical Tradition, Blackwell, Oxford. ISBN: 9780631185864


5. Clifford NJ & Valentine G (eds. 2003) Key Methods in Geography, Sage, London. (B3 KEY) ISBN: 9780761974925
6. Matthews, JA, and Herbert, DT (2008) Geography: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN: 9780199211289