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 Gareth Enticott
SemesterSpring Semester
Academic Year2014/5

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.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

How the module will be delivered

To be taught by a combination of traditional lectures (e.g. involving whole group survey and question/answer sessions), workshops and field study visits.

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

  1. Developing and applying critical thought to concepts of the environment and nature and their relevance to geography;
  2. Preparing and presenting arguments and information in a variety of forms, e.g.: written and oral.
  3. Using IT in work preparation and presentation
  4. Engaging in small groups discussions

How the module will be assessed

Assessed by unseen exam (50%), and written essay (maximum 2000 words, 50%).

Type of assessment



(if applicable)

Approx. date of Assessment

Case study


Case study of environmental geography

2000 words




Unseen examination

1.5 hrs


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

Syllabus content

Lectures and activities 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. The relationship between energy and place attachment at local, regional and national scales and geographical identities will be explored.

Environmental Justice and regeneration: lectureswill examine issues of access to the environment and the involvement of the public in securing environmental benefits. Lectures will examine forms of distributive, procedural and social justice from mining and the management of environmental risks such as bushfire.

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

Castree, N. 2005 Nature. Routledge: London.

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

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

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

Robbins, P., et al., Eds. (2010). Environment and Society. Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell.

Maye, D., et al. (2007). Alternative Food Geographies Oxford, Elsevier.

Urbanik, J. (2012). Placing animals : an introduction to the geography of human-animal relations. Lanham, Md., Rowman & Littlefield.

Wylie, J. (2007). Landscape. London, Routledge.

Background Reading and Resource List

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

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

Castree, N. 2014 Making Sense of Nature. Routledge: London.

Devine-Wright, P. (2013). "Think global, act local? The relevance of place attachments and place identities in a climate changed world." Global Environmental Change 23(1): 61-69.

Eriksen, C. (2014). Gender and Wildfire: Landscapes of Uncertainty. New York, Routledge.

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.

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

Robbins, P. (2012). Political Ecology. Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell.

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

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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