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Concepts in Geography

Module titleConcepts in Geography
Module codeGEO1316
Academic year2018/9
Module staff

Professor John Wylie (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module introduces you to the major contexts in which modern geography operates, including its historical roots, the development of the discipline since 1945 and the relationships between the social and natural sciences within geography. Through the lens of contemporary social and environmental debates in the region, you will explore some of the key ways in which geographers have come to understand the natural and social worlds, notably through the concepts of space, place, scale and time. In so doing, a mixture of field and lecture-based learning will provide you with the opportunity to learn about the role of contested knowledges in the research process and the ways in which academics and practitioners contribute to key debates within society.

This is a compulsory and non-condonable module for the BA, BSc and FCH Geography degree programmes.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module has four aims:

  • To gain an understanding of the ways in which geographers operate within Higher Education.
  • To appreciate the historical development of the discipline and how this has shaped the ways in which knowledge is constructed and consumed.
  • To examine the place of geographical enquiry within the broader philosophy of science, providing an introduction to the ways in which knowledge is constructed and consumed.
  • To introduce you to core concepts in geography through the lens of contemporary geographical debates in Exeter and the South West of England.

Through active participation in the module, the aim is that you will further develop the following academic and professional skills:

  • problem solving (developing own ideas with confidence, identifying and using appropriate sources of information, selectively collecting and collating appropriate information)
  • managing structure (identifying key demands of the task, setting clearly defined goals,  conceptualising central issues within the task, developing strategies to ensure individual progress)
  • time management (managing time effectively individually and in a group)
  • collaboration (respecting the views and values of others, taking initiative and leading others, supporting others in their work, maintaining group cohesiveness and purpose)
  • the application of critical analytical skills in relation to a range of key local issues

The module will draw on staff research interests, including work on the histories and philosophies of geography, on key concepts including place, time and landscape, and from locally-based research in Exeter and the Exe Valley.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe the key concepts used in geography
  • 2. Rationalise the place of geographical enquiry within the wider philosophy of science
  • 3. Discuss the role of geographical enquiry in an educational and political context
  • 4. Analyse critically the ways in which geographical knowledge is constructed and consumed

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Illustrate and discuss the contested and provisional nature of knowledge and understanding
  • 6. Describe a diverse range of approaches to the generation of knowledge and understanding
  • 7. Outline the nature of change within natural systems and their relationship to human societies
  • 8. Discuss reciprocal relationships between physical and human environments

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Communicate ideas, principles and theories effectively and fluently
  • 10. Develop a sustained and reasoned argument
  • 11. Identify, acquire, analyse and synthesise information from a range of sources.
  • 12. Undertake independent/self-directed and reflective study/learning (including time management) to achieve consistent, proficient and sustained attainment
  • 13. Work as a participant or leader of a group and contribute effectively to the achievement of objectives

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Following introductory lectures on the Geography programme at Exeter, the first part of the module introduces you to common ways in which geographers examine landscapes. Through a series of lecture-based activities and a self-guided tour of Exeter, you will focus on gaining an appreciation of the types of questions that geographers are interested in answering, and learn how to think like a geographer.

The second part of the module builds on the conceptual focus by contextualising it within the wider philosophy of science. You will explore how geographers have variously come to know the world through an introduction to the historical development of the discipline in relation to the natural and social sciences. This theme is designed to provide you with an appreciation of the ‘place’ of geographical research and the generic skills required to undertake a critical evaluation of scientific debates.

The third part of the module will introduce you to some of the core concepts which underpin geography as a discipline (space, place, scale and time). Through studying a range of local contemporary environmental debates, you will explore the ways in which these concepts allow geographers to make a unique contribution to the research process.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Lectures
Guided Independent Study4Exeter tour
Guided Independent Study3Preparation for formative assessments
Guided Independent Study99Reading for examination during Term 1
Guided Independent Study22Group preparation of A1 poster


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group discussions on ‘what is Geography’1 hour 1-4, 9-13In-class from lecturers
Group discussions around past examination questions1 hourAllIn-class from lecturers

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination (January)701 hour1-12Oral from pastoral tutor
Exeter tour group fieldtrip poster30A1 posterAllWritten from lecturer


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExamination1-12August Ref/Def
Exeter tour group fieldtrip posterEssayAllAugust Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. In the case of the group field class assessment, you will be required to complete a 1000 word essay on a topic related to the field class. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination or in the case of the group field trip poster, you will be required to complete a 1000 word essay on the relationship between core geographical concepts and local geographies. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Agnew, J.A. and Livingstone, D.N. 2011. The SAGE Handbook of Geographical Knowledge. Sage – available as an ebook.
  • Castree, N., Rogers, A. and Sherman, D. (eds) (2005) Questioning Geography (Blackwell, Oxford) – available as an ebook.
  • Chalmers, A.F. 1994. What is This Thing Called Science? 2nd Edition. Open University Press.
  • Clifford, N. J., Holloway, S. Rice, S. P. and Valentine, G. (2009) Key Concepts in Geography (Sage, London). 2nd edition.
  • Cloke, P, Crang, M., Goodwin, M. 2004. Envisioning Human Geographies. London: Arnold, 2004.
  • Cloke, P., Philo, C. and Sadler, D. 1991. Approaching Human Geography: An Introduction to Contemporary Theoretical Debates. London: Chapman
  • Cloke, P, Crang, M., Goodwin, M. 2014. Introducing Human Geographies, 3rd Edition. London: Arnold – available as an ebook.
  • Crang, M. 1999. Cultural Geography. London: Routledge.
  • Cresswell, T. 2004. Place: A Short Introduction. Blackwell – available as an ebook.
  • Hubbard, P., Kitchen, R., Bartley, B., Fuller, D. 2005. Thinking Geographically: space, theory and contemporary human geography. Continuum. available as an ebook.
  • Hubbard, P., Kitchen, R., Valentine, G., 2004. Key thinkers on space and place, Sage.
  • Johnston, R.J., Gregory, D. and Smith, D.M. (eds) (2000) Dictionary of Human Geography, 4th Edition (Oxford Blackwell, 2000)
  • Johnston, R.J. 2004. Geography and Geographers; Anglo-American Human Geography since 1945 (6th ed). London: Arnold.
  • Trudgill, S and Roy, A. 2003. Contemporary Meanings in Physical Geography. Arnold – available as an ebook.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Geography, concepts, principles

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


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