GEOG30180 Critical Ideas in Geography

Academic Year 2021/2022

This module will examine a range of ideas and themes that have been key to the evolution of Geography. It provides students with a general overview of the history and philosophy of the discipline, and will encourage students to situate their current geographical knowledge within a broader context. In particular, there will be a focus on how the discipline has engaged with important social and public policy issues over time. Students will be expected to engage critically with a range of literature and ways of thinking and substantial independent reading will be required, in addition to participation in work groups and to the final redaction of an essay assignment demonstrating critical skills and capacity of personal interpretation and original re-elaboration of given concepts.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this module, students should have developed:

1. A critical knowledge of the history, philosophy and practice of geography.
2. Gained a critical and personal understanding of different key theoretical and methodological approaches in human geography and to be able to choose which are the most appropriate to use in different circumstances.
3. Gained familiarity with group discussion and with the interaction of different views and opinions, developing respect and inclusiveness in the practice of workgroup with peers.
4. Developed critical reading, analytical and research skills related to both scholarly and journalistic texts on relevant social and political matters.
5. The capacity of writing an academic essay dealing with geographical theory and scholarship.

More specifically:

By the end of Part 1 (weeks 1-5), students will have started group collaboration and discussion on theories, and critically commented a video on Autobiography and the History of Geography (International Dialogue Project) based on relevant scholarship on Ideas in Geography.

By the end of part 2 (weeks 7-11), students will have consolidated group collaboration and discussion on theories, and critically commented one or more journal/magazine text on current affairs, based on relevant scholarship on Ideas in Geography.

Indicative Module Content:

Why theory matters
Landscape, and the emergence of modern geography
Thinking about regions
Positivist geographies and spatial science
Geography and (Auto)Biography
Humanistic geographies
Anarchist geographies
Alternative geographical traditions and geographers' politics engagement
Feminist geographies and scholarship on gender
Queer geographies
Postmodern geographies
Poststructuralist geographies
More-than-human geographies
Geography’s exclusions
Postcolonial geographies and tropicality
Decolonising geography

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Drawing on the tradition of non-directive pedagogies and on the idea of research-based teaching, I inform my teaching philosophy to the aim of stimulating students to build their own critical spirit and to problematize the inputs they receive instead of accumulating notions. I also strongly believe in geography as an engaged and intellectual discipline able to help individuals building original and critical views of the world from the earliest stages of study, rather than to merely acquire technical skills. In other words, scholarship about about doing and thinking. Paying attention to matters on differences of cultures and standpoints in the theoretical framework of 'situated knowledge', I assume that there is never a single answer to a question. As such, whenever possible I am committed to avoid mnemonic or quantitative methods of assessment like MCQs in my modules, promoting instead qualitative assessment based in this case on group projects and assignments. Enhancing students' critical and personal interpretations of reading experiences rather than their simple assimilation is a very central point for my teaching strategy. Make no mistake: this is not a module where you can hide, or stack points by taking tests - you'll need to engage with ideas, as it says on the tin.
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Group Project: Group Project 2 Week 11 n/a Graded No


Assignment: Final Essay Assignment Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Group Project: Group Project 1 Week 5 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

There is one key textbook for this module: Cresswell, T. (2013) Geographic thought: a critical introduction. Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell. This textbook is available in the UCD Main Library for loan and as an e-book for free consultation with your UCD username and password. It can be accessed through UCD Library online catalogue: If you prefer to purchase the book, hard copies can be purchased from the campus bookstore, or online

PROVISIONAL LIST OF FURTHER READINGS (to be updated at the beginning of the term):

• Barnes, T.J. (2017). “A marginal man and his central contributions: The creative spaces of William (‘Wild Bill’) Bunge and American geography”, Environment and Planning A, Online First
• Brown, G. and Browne K. (2016) The Routledge Research Companion to Geographies of Sex and Sexualities. London: Routledge [PARTS TO BE INDICATED]
• Esson, J., Noxolo, P., Baxter, R., Daley, P, Byron, M. (2017). “The 2017 RGS-IBG chair's theme: decolonising geographical knowledges, or reproducing coloniality?” Area 49(3), 384–388.
• F. Ferretti, 2019 “Rediscovering other geographical traditions”, Geography Compass, 13(3): e12421
• Livingstone, D.N. (2012). “Changing climate, human evolution, and the revival of environmental determinism”. Bulletin of History of Medicine, 86(4), 564-95.
• P. Kropotkin (1885). "What Geography Ought to Be." The Nineteenth Century, 18, pp. 940-56,
• Minca, C. (2007), “Humboldt’s compromise, or the forgotten geographies of landscape”. Progress in Human Geography, 31, 179-193,
• Radcliffe, S. (2017). “Decolonising geographical knowledges”. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 42, 3, 329-333.
• J. Sidaway, C.Y. Woon, J. Jacobs (2014) “Planetary postcolonialism”, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 35, 4-21.
• Whatmore, S. (2006) “Materialist returns: practising cultural geographies in and for a more-than-human world”. Cultural Geographies, 13(4): 600-610.

• F. Ferretti (2019), “Between radical geography and humanism: Anne Buttimer and the International Dialogue Project”, Antipode, a Radical Journal of Geography 51 (4), 1123-1145.
• M. Jones (2018). Anne Buttimer's The Practice of Geography: Approaching the history of geography through autobiography Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 100, 2018 4 396-405
• M. Van Meeteren (201). “The pedagogy of autobiography in the history of geographic thought”. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift - Norwegian Journal of Geography 73(4):250-255.

The following is a list of some readings that you might find worth consulting
• J. Agnew, D. Livingstone, (eds.), The SAGE handbook of geographical knowledge, London, SAGE
• S. Aitken, and G. Valentine, eds. (2006), Approaches to human geography. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage.
• T. Barnes, E. Sheppard (eds.) (2019), Spatial Histories of Radical Geography: North America and Beyond, Hoboken, Wiley.
• H. Bauder, and S. Engel di Mauro (2008), Critical geographies: a collection of readings. Praxis(e)Press [available online]
• A. Blunt, J. Wills (2000), Dissident Geographies: An Introduction to Radical Ideas and Practice, Harlow, Longman.
• G. Bowd and D. Clayton, 2019, Impure and worldly geography: Pierre Gourou and tropicality. London: Routledge.
• N. Castree, A. Rogers, and D. Sherman, eds. (2005), Questioning geography, Oxford, Blackwell.
• N. Clifford, S. Holloway, S. Rice, and G. Valentine (2009), Key concepts in geography (2nd edition), Thousand Oaks, CA, SAGE.
• F. Driver (2001), Geography militant: cultures of exploration and Empire, Oxford, Blackwell.
• F. Driver (2004) Imagining the tropics: views and visions of the tropical world, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, vol. 25, n. 1, 1-17.
• S. Elden (2013), The birth of territory, Chicago, Chicago University Press.
• F. Ferretti (2017), “Tropicality, the unruly Atlantic and social utopias: the French explorer Henri Coudreau (1859-1899)”, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 38 (3), p. 332-349.
• F. Ferretti (2018), Anarchy and Geography: Reclus and Kropotkin in the UK, Abingdon, Routledge.
• S. Hall (1996), When was the postcolonial? Thinking at the limit. In I. Chambers, L. Curtis (eds.) The post-colonial question, common skies, divided horizons. London: Routledge: pp. 213-220,
• J.B. Harley (2001), The new nature of Maps, Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press, [Project ‘History of cartography’:]
• A. Holt-Jensen (2018), Geography: History and concepts, London, Sage.
• T. Jazeel, S. Legg (eds) (2019), Subaltern Geographies. Athens, University of Georgia Press.
• R.J. Johnston, D. Gregory, R.J. Johnston, G. Pratt, and S. D.M. Whatmore, eds. (2009), The dictionary of human geography, Oxford, Blackwell.
• G. Kearns (2009), Geopolitics and Empire, the legacy of Halford Mackinder, Oxford/New York, Oxford University Press.
• W. Mignolo, (2012), Local histories/global designs: coloniality, subaltern knowledges, and border thinking. Princeton, Princeton University Press (available at UCD Library Web electronic books).
• M. Power, J. Sidaway (2004), The degeneration of tropical geography, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 94, 585-601.
• M. Power (2019), Geopolitics and development. Abingdon, Routledge.
• J. Sharp (2008), Geographies of Postcolonialism, London, SAGE.
• S. Springer, (2012), Anarchism! What geography still ought to be. Antipode, 44, 1605-1624.
• S. Springer (2016), The anarchist roots of geography, Minneapolis, Minnesota University Press.
• N. Thrift (2008), Non-representational theory: space, politics, affect. London, Routledge.
Name Role
Professor Kath Browne Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Brad Garrett Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 Mon 16:00 - 16:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 Thurs 10:00 - 10:50