CP0111 - Introduction To Human Geography

SchoolCardiff School of Planning and Geography
Department CodeCPLAN0
Module CodeCP0111
External Subject CodeK400
Number of Credits20
Language of DeliveryEnglish
Module Leader Dr Stephen Burgess
SemesterAutumn Semester
Academic Year2013/4

Outline Description of Module

This module provides an introduction and overview of human geography. It outlines what is original and important about human geography, the approaches it takes to the world, and the questions it answers. In the first half of the semester, we will explore key terms and concepts that form the basis for the geographical approach. In the second half of the semester students will be introduced to some of the key questions geography and geographers address. These questions are explored by theme with lectures on political, environmental, urban, social and cultural geography. These introductory sessions form the critical basis for more advanced modules in year two, as well providing the foundation for further study in human geography, planning, and related social sciences and humanities. This aims of this course are to:

1.     Introduce human geography and its original contribution to the social sciences.

2.     Introduce the main questions geography asks.

3.     Introduce key theoretical ideas that form the basis for human geography.

4.     Provide introduction to some of the key critical areas in contemporary geographic study.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

1.         Discuss the characteristics of contemporary human geography, placing it in an historical context    

2.         Discuss key theoretical terms concerning human geography

3.         Discuss the fundamental significance of geography to understanding social, economic, cultural and political relationships

4.         Demonstrate a basic knowledge of political,  environmental, urban, social and cultural geography

How the module will be delivered

This module is lecture-based but will also make use, subject to time, of videos and other material. Class discussion will also be used to explore some of the topics covered.


In the second semester, lectures will be complemented with a series of geographical fieldwork tasks. Students will be allocated groups and each week a different task will be given to the groups. These tasks are designed to help students think about the application of theory to their immediate geographical environment (i.e. Cardiff). All students are required to complete all tasks and each group will present on one of their fieldwork tasks. 


Essential background reading and other material will be made available via Learning Central. Summary lecture notes will be given as handouts for each lecture (but these are not to be regarded as sufficient to cover the course without use of that background material). Students will be expected to make systematic use of weekly and monthly periodicals and suitable websites to develop their general knowledge of geographical issues.

Skills that will be practised and developed

This module will also help students develop other skills.  These include:

1.            The ability to search out key material and references within the discipline

2.            The ability to make connections between geographical theory and empirical data

3.            Development oflibrary, reading and critical skills

4.            Oral and written communication skills

5.            Presentation skills

6.            Group work skills

7.            Development of an appreciation of the need for a reflective awareness, and a constructively critical attitude to empirical and theoretical claims

How the module will be assessed

Oral presentation


Group presentations on one of the field tasks undertaken


December 2012

Written coursework


Individual coursework based on one of the field tasks


January 2013

Written exam



1.5 hours

January 2013


Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs) Period Week
Examination - Autumn Semester 50
Introduction To Human Geography
1.5 1 N/A
Written Assessment 40
Individual Coursework Based On One Of The Field Tasks
N/A 1 N/A
Oral/Aural Assessment 10
Oral Presenation - Group Presentations On One Of The Field Tasks Undertaken
N/A 1 N/A

Syllabus content

This module begins by discussing the history of human geography before going on to explore some key concepts of the discipline. These include: time; space/place; scale; power politics and ideology (through looking at maps); demography; migration; globalisation; identity and belonging. We will see how these topics are interrelated.


In the second half of the semester we will explore some of the questions that human geographers have addressed by examining some of the geographical sub-disciplines. These are: political, environmental, urban, social and cultural geography. Again, we will see how these are interrelated. These will be reinforced by fieldwork tasks which will allow you to think about these issues within the context of Cardiff. 

Essential Reading and Resource List

The following books are a few general, key readings which may be useful for the whole course. Other readings and resources will be given on a week by week basis. These will be provided via Learning Central.


Remember, these readings are just some suggested titles that are worth looking at. Don’t restrict yourself to just these readings: make the most of your time at Cardiff University and read around your subject.



Agnew, J. and Duncan, J.S. (Eds) (2011) The Wiley-Blackwell companion to Human Geography, Wiley: Blackwell: Oxford pp.146-160  


Agnew, J., Livingstone, D.N. and Rogers, A. (1996) Human geography: an essential anthology, Blackwell: Oxford


Cloke, P., Crang, P. and Goodwin, M. (2005) Introducing Human Geographies, 2nd Edition Hodder Arnold: London   (Bute 304.2l) (First edition of this book was published 1999 hardback; 2003 paperback)


Gregory, D., Johnston, R., Pratt, G., Watts, M. and Whatmore, S. (eds). (2009) The Dictionary of Human Geography, 5th Edition Wiley-Blackwell: Chichester (Bute, 304.203 D – 4th edition only)


Livingstone, D.N, (1992) The Geographical Tradition Blackwell: Oxford   (Bute 910.9 L)


Peet, R. (1998) Modern Geographical Thought Blackwell: Oxford (Bute 910.01 P)




Journals are a key part of the academic literature. It is in journals that current research is published and many contemporary debates are played out. You should include journal articles in your reading. As well as targeting them for specific topics or articles, it is worth regularly looking at the latest volumes in order to get a sense of what is going on in the discipline. Many of these can be accessed on-line via the Cardiff University Library service. Key geography journals that you have access to as a member of Cardiff University include:


·         Annals of the Association of American Geographers

·         Antipode

·         Applied Geography

·         Area

·         Economic Geography

·         Environment and Planning A

·         Environment and Planning D – Society and Space

·         Geoforum

·         Geografiska Annaler. Series B. Human Geography

·         Geographical Analysis

·         International Journal of Urban and Regional Research

·         Journal of Economic Geography

·         Landscape and Urban Planning

·         Political Geography

·         Professional Geographer

·         Progress in Human Geography

·         Regional Studies

·         Social and cultural geography

·         Transactions of the institute of British Geographers

© Cardiff University