BA Geography

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Key Ideas in Geography

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG10192
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Geography
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course provides a starting point to the Geography degree. It provides a brief introduction to the history and philosophy of the discipline. The course will help situate others modules throughout the degree programme. A range of varied key ideas and concepts across the breadth of the discipline will be showcased by different physical and human Geography staff members. For example, indicative concepts include; space and place, scale, nature and processes.  


  • To introduce some key themes, debates and concepts that have shaped Geography as a discipline;
  • To describe and explain some of the principal philosophical and theoretical ways of ‘doing geography’;
  • To show how geographers have appropriated and reworked ideas from cognate disciplines;
  • To reflect upon the nature and aims of Geography as a modern university subject;
  • To demonstrate the distinctiveness and vitality of Geography;
  • To introduce the Geography@Manchester staff and their research. 

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course unit, you should be able to:

  • Understand some of the key intellectual ideas that have preoccupied human and physical geographers in their research;
  • Appreciate that human and physical geography are linked yet distinctive academic fields;
  • Have some knowledge of the current state of Geography as a research and teaching subject;
  • Appreciate that Geography is related to ideas beyond the discipline;
  • To appreciate how Geographical knowledge can be applied to local and global issues.

Teaching and learning methods

The course unit will be delivered via ten two-hour lectures. These sessions will be supplemented by extensive private study based on directed reading each week. Lecture sessions will draw upon a range of resources, including PowerPoint slides, links to web resources, videos and core readings. Lecture sessions will include time for discussion and group activities. A comprehensive archive of all sources and links will be compiled on the Blackboard site for the module.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand key concepts that have shaped Geography as a discipline
  • Appreciate that Geography is related to ideas beyond the discipline;
  • Reflect on the nature and aims of Geography as a modern university subject;
  • Appreciate the linked yet distinctive research of physical and human geographers at The University of Manchester.

Intellectual skills

  • Appreciate the role of conceptual thinking in the production of knowledge
  • An ability to make links between conceptual ideas and applied research;
  • Reflective writing;
  • Exam essay writing.

Practical skills

  • Reading, note-taking and listening skills

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Critical thinking skills through an engagement with current disciplinary debates; 

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods

Feedback will be provided in the following ways during this course unit:

  • Verbal feedback through Q&A and discussion within lecture sessions
  • Verbal feedback from Geography staff on any course unit issue through staff office hours
  • Discussion of exam result with your academic advisor
  • Discussion of key concepts through Semester 1 tutorial programme. 

Recommended reading

Castree, N., Kitchin, R., and Rogers, A. (eds.) (2013) A Dictionary of Human Geography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Castree, N., Rogers, A., and Sherman, D. (eds) (2005). Questioning Geography: Fundamental Debates. London: Wiley-Blackwell.

Clifford, N.J., Holloway, S.L., Rice, S.P. and Valentine, G. (2009) Key Concepts in Geography. London: Sage.

Gregory, K. (2000). The Changing Nature of Physical Geography. London: Arnold.

Haines-Young, R.H. and Petch, J. R. (1986) Physical Geography: Its Nature and Methods. London: Harper and Row.

Hubbard, P., Kitchin, R., Barley, B., and Fuller, D. (2002). Thinking Geographically: space, theory and contemporary human geography. London: Bloomsbury.

Johnston, R.J., Gregory, D., Pratt, G. and Watts, M. (eds) (2009) The Dictionary of Human Geography. 5th edn. Oxford: Blackwell.

Nayak, A. and Jeffrey, A. (2011) Geographical thought: an introduction to ideas in human geography Harlow, Pearson Education.

Thomas, D.S.G. (2016) The Dictionary of Physical Geography. 4th edn. London: John Wiley.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 80

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ross Jones Unit coordinator

Additional notes




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