BA Geography with International Study / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Key Concepts in Geography

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG10192
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
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, and studying these separately and together, depending. 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, territory, borders & boundaries, and regions, among 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 several concepts are elucidated, in part, by direct reference to the research conducted by Manchester University geographers. A practical fieldwork exercise invites students to put one of the key concepts to work in Manchester.


• Introduce key concepts that characterise Geography as a 21st century discipline;
• Demonstrate how these concepts can be put to work in geographical research;
• Reflect upon the nature and aims of Geography as a contemporary university subject;
• Introduce students to the breadth of physical, society-environment and human geography research being conducted in the MU Department of Geography, as well the wider discipline


Lectures focus on spatial and temporal scale; systems and complexity; landscape; place; nature, and borders, among other things.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures (20 hours) plus independent field visits; in-lecture quizzes, Q&As and polls; All lectures are video recorded and resources available on Blackboard. Pre- and post-lecture readings are set for most lectures. From Week 6 Staff consultations about the field projects, along with TA support. Tutorial as part of GEOG 12012 to discuss Key Concepts fieldwork and group write up.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Identify, define and illustrate several key concepts that delimit Geography as a field of research and learning
  • 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

Formative Assessment Task      Length (word count/time)       How and when feedback is provided

200 word overview of assignment         200 words                         Comments on Discussion Board 
plans submitted via BB Discussion Board

Assessment task                  Length                      How and when feedback is provided    Weighting

Coursework essay         Up to 1200 words excluding        Via blackboard through written        40%
                                       the bibliography                           feedback 15 working days after                                                                                                                      submission

Group write up of              2500 words                               Via blackboard through written       60%
applying Key Concept      (625 words per student              feedback 15 working days after
to local field site (either     for a group of 4)                        submission
through actual visit or 
group application of concepts 
to photograph of site). 
Site chosen from list of 5.

Recommended reading

Murphy, A. (2018) Geography – Why It Matters (Polity Press: Cambridge).
Clifford, N. et al. (eds) (2009) Key Concepts in Geography (Sage: London).
Richardson, 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

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