CP0139 - Introduction to Geographical Ideas

SchoolCardiff School of Planning and Geography
Department CodeCPLAN0
Module CodeCP0139
External Subject CodeL700
Number of Credits20
Language of DeliveryEnglish
Module Leader Dr Jonathan Anderson
SemesterAutumn Semester
Academic Year2013/4

Outline Description of Module

This module will provide a broad historical overview of the development of geographical thought, illustrated through the work and legacy of selected key thinkers from Ancient Greece to the 1970s.  Within this historical framework the module will introduce the enduring intellectual themes and currents which have shaped the discipline. It will provide students with an introduction to the foundations of geographical thought and will show how theoretical developments follow from one another, as the perceived weaknesses in one set of theories give rise to another contrasting set of approaches.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

The main aims of the module are as follows:

On completion of the module students will be able to discuss the ways in which geography as a discipline has evolved. They will be able to define, evaluate and compare paradigms, and critically debate their importance for what geographers study. Students will be able to understand and communicate the dynamism of the discipline and critically discuss this using examples. It provides a foundation for the appreciation and discussion of Contemporary Geographical Ideas in second year.

How the module will be delivered

The module will provide students with the following:

Skills that will be practised and developed

This module will:

·         nurture the skills of reading and interpreting theoretical literatures

·         encourage the development of a critical, analytical facility to assess and evaluate evidence and claims

·         show how abstract ideas can be applied to particular case study areas

·         provide opportunities to communicate geographical knowledge through a range of media, principally through oral presentation

How the module will be assessed


How the module will be assessed



Assessment will be 100% coursework.


Students will be expected to write ONE essay of NO MORE than 2,000 words. This will constitute 50% of the final assessment.


Students will be expected to write ONE Reflective Learning Diary. This will constitute 50% of the final assessment.



Type of assessment





(if applicable)

Approx. date of Assessment



Students will be expected to write an essay on the evolution of Geography as a discipline and the role of theory within it.

2000 words

2ndweek of Jan

Reflective Learning Diary


A ‘diary’ that reflects on the readings discussed during weekly seminars. The diary should explain key themes and arguments in each reading and should examine its place in the development of geographical thought and practice

2000 words

13thDecember 2013



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
Written Assessment 50
Introduction To Geographical Ideas - Essay
N/A 1 N/A
Written Assessment 50
Introduction To Geographical Ideas - Reflective Log
N/A 1 N/A

Syllabus content

Introduction to Geographical Ideas; Paradigms (Empiricism and Hermeneutic); Geographies of Exploration, Environmental Determinism; Military Geography and Geopolitics; Regional Geographies; Regional Science and Behaviouralism; Humanism; Psychogeography and Situationism; Presentations; Review.

Essential Reading and Resource List

Highly Recommended.

Nayak A and Jeffrey A 2011 Geographical thought: an introduction to ideas in human geography Harlow: Prentice Hall

Agnew, J. Livingstone, D. Rogers, A. eds. 1996 Human Geography. An Essential Anthology. Blackwell: Oxford.



Cloke, P. Philo, C. Sadler, D. 1991 Approaching Human Geography. PCP: London.

Cresswell, T. 2013 Geographic Thought: a Critical Introduction. Wiley: Chichester.

Gregory, D. et al, eds 2009 The Dictionary of Human Geography. Fifth Edition. Blackwell: Oxford.

Livingstone, D.  1992  The Geographical Tradition Blackwell: Oxford.

Johnston, R.  ed   1993  The Challenge for Geography: A changing world; A  changing discipline Blackwell: Oxford.

Sidaway, J. Johnston, R. eds. 2004 Geography and Geographers. Ango-American Human Geography since 1945. Arnold: London.

Unwin, T.  1992  Place of Geography. Longman: Harlow.



Godlewska, A. Smith, N.  1996  Geography and Empire Blackwell: London

Holloway, S. Rice, S. Valentine, G. eds. 2003 Key Concepts in Geography. Sage: London.

Ian Craib  1994  Modern Social Theory

Johnson, R. 1986 Philosophy & Human Geography. An Introduction to Contemporary Approaches. 2nd edition. Edward Arnold: London.

Johnston, R.  1986  On Human Geography Blackwell: Oxford.

Kitchin, R. Tate, N. 2000 Conducting Research into Human Geography. Prentice Hall: Harlow.

Massey, D. Allen, J.  eds   1984  Geography Matters! Open University: Milton Keynes.

Rogers, A. Viles, H. 2003 The Student’s Companion to Geography. Second Edition. Blackwell: Oxford.

Thrift, N.  1989  New Models in Geography Vols 1 and 2 Unwin: London


See also weekly seminar readings.

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