BSc Geography with International Study / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Key Concepts in Geography

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG10191
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


Geography is a vibrant discipline. It studies the configuration of things on or near the Earth’s surface, spanning both biophysical phenomena and human activity at a range of scales. In studying this complex world, geographers use a set of general concepts as ‘lenses’. The lenses allow them to cut into the connective tissue of reality from certain angles so that particular things come into focus. The lenses include place, landscape, globalisation, teleconnections, and regions, among many others. This unit introduces students to the aims and subject matter of modern university Geography by exploring a number of these concepts. Human, environmental and physical geography are covered, and the concepts are elucidated, in part, by direct reference to the research conducted by Manchester University geographers.


• To introduce key concepts that characterise Geography as a 21st century discipline;

• To demonstrate how these concepts can be put to work in geographical research;

• To reflect upon the nature and aims of Geography as a contemporary university subject;

• To introduce students to the breadth of physical and human Geography research being conducted in the MU Department of Geography, as well the wider discipline

Teaching and learning methods

Two hour lecture sessions plus independent field visits and resources available on Blackboard. Lectures will be interactive. Pre- and post-lecture readings, audio-visual content, quizzes and other activities will be sprinkled throughout the semester.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Identify, define and illustrate several key concepts that delimit Geography as a field of study
  • Know why concepts are often defined and operationalised in different ways across Geography as a whole
  • Understand the several key concepts that have shaped Geography as a discipline;
  • Understand how the research of physical, environmental and human geographers at The University of Manchester is situated in the wider Geography discipline.

Intellectual skills

  • Explain and exemplify the role conceptual thinking plays in the production of geographical knowledge
  • Demonstrate how and why concepts may be employed in different ways by human, environmental and physical geographers
  • Demonstrate how Geography is related to research occurring outside the discipline
  • Present an informed argument about the value of Geography as a modern university subject

Practical skills

  • Field observation and note taking
  • Reading, writing, note taking and listening

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Critical thinking skills through an engagement with current disciplinary debates; 
  • Application of theory to physical place
  • Team working

Assessment methods

Group write up of applying Key Concept to local field site (either through actual visit or group application of concepts to photograph of site). Site chosen from list of 5.

1500 words

Feedback will be provided 15 working days after submission



Formative Assignment:  200 word overview of assi9gnment plans submitted via BB Discussion Board.  Feedback will be provided within 15 working days.

Recommended reading

Murphy, A. (2018) Geography – Why It Matters (Polity Press: Cambridge).

Clifford, N. et al. (eds) (2009) Key Concepts in Geography (Sage: London). R

ichardson, D. et al. (eds) (2017) International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment and Technology (Malden: Wiley-Blackwell), available online.

Thomas, D. S. G. (ed.) (2016) The Dictionary of Physical Geography (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell).

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

Mayhew, S. (2015) Oxford Dictionary of Geography (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 80

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Noel Castree Unit coordinator

Additional notes




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