CP0137 - Environmental Geography

SchoolCardiff School of Planning and Geography
Department CodeCPLAN0
Module CodeCP0137
External Subject CodeL700
Number of Credits20
Language of DeliveryEnglish
Module Leader Dr Christopher Bear
SemesterSpring Semester
Academic Year2013/4

Outline Description of Module

This module introduces students to the idea of environmental geography: its theoretical bases and its objects of study. It takes students through how geographers have conceptualised the environment and its influence over the nature of place; how environmental knowledge has reorganised place and geography; how notions of the environment have become constructed; and how ideas of nature and the environment have come to be central to place-making and construction of identity. The second half of the module reviews these theories and practices in relation to current environmental challenges.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

How the module will be delivered


This module combines lectures, seminars and videos in order to give students a varied learning experience and also to expose them to other people’s, and indeed ‘real world’, views. Lectures are intended to describe, explain and illustrate key empirical processes and trends, and their relations to current theoretical debates, in contemporary environmental geography. However, students are actively encouraged to offer thoughts, questions and responses to issues and themes raised during lectures; a participatory model of education is sought.

Skills that will be practised and developed

(a)  Develop and apply critical thought to concepts of the environment and nature and their relevance to geography;

(b)  Preparing and presenting arguments and information in a variety of forms, e.g: written and oral.

(c)  Using IT in work preparation and presentation

(d)  Engage in small groups discussions

How the module will be assessed

Type of assessment





(if applicable)

Approx. date of Assessment





April 2014




1.5 hrs

May 2014

The potential for reassessment in this module

Students are permitted to be reassessed in a module which they have failed, in line with the course regulations. The reassessment will usually take place during the summer.

Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs) Period Week
Examination - Spring Semester 50
Environmental Geography
1.5 1 N/A
Written Assessment 50
Environmental Geography Essay
N/A 1 N/A

Syllabus content

Lectures and actitivies will cover the following subjects:

Environmental Geography: the module will cover the evolution of environmental geography as a distinct aspect of geography. Lectures will explore the relationship between geography as a discipline and the environment; the theoretical underpinnings of early environmental geography; and  what environmental geographers currently do.

The natures of geography: Lectures will examine the way in which nature has become an object of concern for geographers. Lectures will question what nature is, how it is produced socially, and how the social production of nature has geographical effects.

Landscape: the module will examine the nature of landscape. This will include examining the origins of national parks and other protected landscape designations. Lectures will explore the concept of wilderness, transcendentalism and romanticism and their role in creating particular forms of landscape.

Risk and Security:the module will examine the nature of risk and how in a “risk society”, attitudes towards nature have changed. Drawing on the example of the BSE crisis, lectures will explore the meaning of risk and how nature has provided a refuge for concerns about modern life. Connections between risk and the preservation of local and regional identities will be explored.

Geographies of Food:the module will explore the food system and the challenges it faces, including population growth, disease and climate change. The reasons behind the recent Horse Meat scandal will be explored, and the growth in alternative food networks will be discussed.

Geographies of Energy and Waste: lectures will explorethe geography ofenergy in the context of concerns about the future supply of coal, gas and oil and the threat of climate change. Lectures will examine the use of energy in the home, and strategies for energy and waste reduction. The relationship between energy and local, regional and national geographical identities will be explored.

Forests, Trees and Gardens: lectureswill examine the social role of forests and woodlands, tracing the way the use of woodlands has changed from a productivist role to one of providing community benefits. The role of urban parks and community gardens will also be examined.

Animal Geographies:lectures will examine the emergence of the discipline of animal geography. This will include examining the role of animals in creating national identities and cultures; the production and treatment of animals in the agriculture; and the public attitudes towards the place for wild and tamed animals.

Field Study Visit: Field study visits will be organised with the purpose of providing real life examples of the concepts explored in lectures. This may include trips to nature reserves, urban parks and community gardens.

Essential Reading and Resource List

Barry, J. 2006 Environment and Social Theory. Routledge: London.

Beck, U. 1992 The Risk Society. SAGE: London.

Castree, N. 2005 Nature. Routledge: London.

Cronon, W. 1992 Nature’s Metropolis. W.W. Norton.

Cronon, W. 1997 Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. W.W. Norton.

Dickens, P. 1992 Society and Nature. Temple University Press.

Dickens, P. 1996 Reconstructing Nature: Alienation, Emancipation and the Division of Labour. Routledge: London.

Dobson, A. 2007 Green Political Thought. Routledge: London.

Hannigan, J. 2004 Environmental Sociology. Routledge: London.

Hinchliffe, S. 2007 Geographies of Nature. Sage: London

Livingstone, D.N. 1992 The Geographical Tradition. Episodes in the History of a Contested Enterprise. Blackwell Publishers: Oxford.

Livingstone, D.N. 1994 ‘Environmental determinism’. In Johnston, R.J., Gregory, D. and Smith, D.M. (Eds) Dictionary of Human Geography. (Third edition). Blackwell: Oxford. pp. 162-164.

Macnaghten, P. and Urry, J. 1998 Contested Natures. Sage: London

Matless, D. (1998b) Landscape and Englishness. Reacktion books: London.

Nash, R. (1970) ‘The American invention of national parks’. American Quarterly, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 726-35.

Nash, R. (1973) Wilderness and the American Mind. Yale University Press: New Haven.

Peet, R. (1985) ‘The origins of environmental determinism’. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, vol. 75, no. 3, pp. 309-333.

Sage, C. (2012). Environment and Food. London, Routledge.

Semple, E. (1911) Influences of Geographic Environment. Henry Holt: New York.

Soper, K. 1995 What is Nature? Wiley-Blackwell: London.

Whatmore, S. 2002 Hybrid Geographies. Sage: London.

Wilson, A. (1992) The Culture of Nature. Blackwell: Oxford.

Woods, M. (1998) ‘Mad cows and hounded deer: political representations of animals in the British countryside’. Environment and Planning A, vol. 30, pp. 1219-1234.

Wynne, B. (1992) ‘Misunderstood misunderstanding: social identities and public uptake of science’. Public Understanding of Science, vol. 1, pp. 281-304.

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