BA Geography / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Skills for Geographers

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG20621
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Geography
Available as a free choice unit? No


Skills for Geographers is here to help you develop your research and professional skills. It will enable you to consider and enhance skills that you are learning through your modules and broader university life, and teach you new research skills to undertake critical real world enquiry. The first half of the semester will focus on two core elements: (i) employability and professional skills and (ii) quantitative methods. The second half of the semester will focus on the particular research methods that you would like to specialise in, covering a range of physical and human geography approaches.


  • To enable you to recognise and enhance the skills that you have as a Geographer;
  • To improve skills in oral and written communication, critical thinking and reflection
  • To develop geographical research skills in quantitative and qualitative data gathering and interpretation;
  • To provide training in practical skills and methodologies that are needed to develop a critical and organised approach to the execution and writing up of research project or dissertation.


You will choose any two of the following methods workshops, which start in Week 5 (sign up info will be communicated in the Week 1 lecture):


Discourse Analysis

Environmental Monitoring

Environmental Reconstruction

Ethnography and Observation


Spatial Data

Visual Methods


Teaching and learning methods

This is a practical and varied course unit. There will be a mix of lectures, seminars, interactive discussions, guest presentations, fieldwork, laboratory work, and workshops on data analysis and presentation. Part of the course unit will have a focus on professional development. Extensive material will be available on Blackboard including lecture slides from staff and guest speakers, selected reading material, reading lists, and information relating to the assessments. All work will be submitted via Blackboard. This course is supported by staff and post-graduate teaching assistants.   

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of two specialist research methods in physical and / or human geography
  • Understand the key methodological requirements of a successful research project / dissertation.

Intellectual skills

  • Work effectively with quantitative datasets and understand key statistical concepts, including describing and displaying quantitative data, carrying out and interpreting the results of appropriate statistical tests
  • The ability to gather, synthesise, discuss, interpret and analyse data
  • The ability to think critically and reflect on past experience

Practical skills

  • Approach job applications with more confidence and be more proficient in professional skills relating to oral and written communication, critical thinking and reflection
  • An explicit awareness of the transferrable skills of geography and their application to real world issues.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Critically reflect on the world of work and what you might like to do after graduation;
  • The ability to work independently
  • The ability to communicate proficiently in oral and written format;

Assessment methods

The course will be assessed by four elements, each worth 25%. The first assessment, is a 1,000-word Thematic Skills Essay that asks you to critically reflect on your own skillset. The second assessment, for Quantitative Methods (also worth 25% of your final mark), will involve weekly tasks and quizzes on Blackboard. Then, in the second half of the semester you will complete two short pieces of coursework, each worth 25%, for your chosen methods workshops.  The exact tasks will vary between workshops given the breadth of the themes covered. The coursework assignments relating to each block may vary in length depending on the nature of the task, but each assignment will represent work in-line with 25% of a 20 credit module. There is no exam for this course.

Students choose any two from the following list of ten research methods workshops:

  • Archives: 1,000-word report based on archival research.
  • Discourse Analysis: 1,000-word discourse analysis essay centred on one text.
  • Environmental Monitoring: 1,000-word report based on lab data interpretation.
  • Environmental Reconstruction: 1,000-word report based on lab data interpretation.
  • Ethnography and Observation: 1,000-word reflective essay based on field diary notes.
  • Glacial Reconstruction: 1,000-word report on glacier-climate reconstruction methods.
  • Interviews: 1,000-word thematic essay analysis and code table of a short interview.
  • Spatial Data: Crime distribution map layout and 500-word report analysis of the map.
  • Visualising Geographical Data: Infographic for a science festival (team-based work).
  • Visual Methods: Poster presentation analysis of a piece of art (team-based work).

Feedback methods

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

·         Verbal feedback through Q&A, discussion and interactive activities within the lectures, seminars, workshops and fieldwork

·         Written feedback on research reports

·         Weekly office hours to assist with any queries;

·          A running FAQ thread on Blackboard;

·         A skills assessment (My Future – Next Steps) to be completed during the course.

Recommended reading

Baerwald, T.J. (2010) ‘Prospects for Geography as an Interdisciplinary Discipline’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers 100(3): pp. 493-501.

Bregman, R. (2017) Utopia for Realists: And How We Can Get There. London: Bloomsbury.

Cain, S. (2012) Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. London: Penguin.

Gladwell, M. (2008) Outliers: The Story of Success. London: Penguin

McCowan, T. (2015) ‘Should universities promote employability?’, Theory and Research in Education 13 (3): pp. 267-285.

Pinker, S. (2014) The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. London: Penguin 

Smith (1987) ‘“Academic War Over the Field of Geography”: The Elimination of Geography at Harvard’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers 77 (2): pp. 155-172.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 8
Seminars 18
Independent study hours
Independent study 174

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ross Jones Unit coordinator

Additional notes


This course is not open to Free Choice Students


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