1. Awarding Institution: Brunel University
2. Final Award: BSc Hons
3. Programme Title: Human Geography
4. UCAS Code: L822 (4 year FT)
5. Benchmark Group: Geography

6. Educational Aims of the Programme:

The programme aims to develop students' understanding of the theoretical and empirical frameworks which underpin Human Geography, through the provision of modules across the range of the Human Geography discipline. In addition, the programme aims to enable students to develop and apply a range of techniques and approaches used in Human Geography.

The programme provides opportunities for students to achieve learning outcomes in four areas and these are given below, together with the teaching, learning and assessment methods which enable students to achieve and demonstrate these outcomes:

NB Each module has a specific set of learning outcomes and methods of assessment which are printed in the module guides given to students at the beginning of each module.


Knowledge and understanding of:

  1. the ways in which environments and landscapes are modified as a result of human action;
  2. how environments and landscapes are socially constructed, interpreted and represented;
  3. the concept of spatial variation and the patterning of human phenomena, particularly the way in which economic, social and political processes reflect, reproduce and remake social processes;
  4. how places are constituted by economic, social and political processes, and the influence of place on these processes;
  5. the significance of scale, particularly the way in which economic, social and political processes operate at a range of scales between the local and global and how processes operating at each of these scales produce particular geographies, including changes at other scales.
  6. the main dimensions of human inequality at a range of scales, and the range of interpretations of the processes creating geographies of difference and inequality;
  7. past patterns of change, particularly those shaping the world of today and the foreseeable future;
  8. the inter-relationship between Human Geography and other academic disciplines in the Social Sciences and Humanities, both in terms of its contribution and intellectual debt to these other disciplines;
  9. Human Geography as an area of study that is dynamic, plural and contested;
  10. the diversity of ways of representing the human world;
  11. the way in which Human Geography concepts, techniques and expertise may be applied to problem solving. In so doing, Geographical knowledge and understanding should form the basis for informed concern about the Earth and its people.

Students take a common four modules in Level 1 which introduce them to the nature of social processes (GY1003) and their interaction with space and place (GY1003, GY1004, GY1019) and the environment (GY1001). The social and cultural construction of landscape and environment are explored in all four modules. All of these modules develop the significance of scale and change both in society and the environment and within Human Geography (HG). Students will take 40 credits outside HG (either in Physical Geography or in other disciplines) and this will enable them to explore the inter-relationships between HG and other areas. In particular, GY1004 develops an understanding of geographical techniques and in small tutorial groups encourages students to develop their concerns about, understanding of, and expertise in handling a range of geographical concepts and problems. Whilst this module is assessed by coursework (essays, cartographical and statistical exercises, field report, class test) over the full academic year, all other modules offered at L1 in the department are one semester in duration and are assessed by an equally weighted combination of coursework and examination. At L1, students are prepared for the wide variety of methods of assessment used at Levels 2 and 3, although these will not always be assessed at L1. (For example, debates and role play exercises used in L1 tutorials build confidence in students for their assessed presentations at L2/3.)

In L2 and L3, students specialise in certain subject areas (e.g. political, social, urban, cultural and development geography and environmental issues). All of these modules incorporate some element of the epistomological development of the subject and the students will, therefore, be able to critically reflect on HG's diversity and unifying themes. By the end of the degree, students should be able to articulate their chosen specialisms within HG as a whole, particularly through their individual research report. The majority of modules (with the exception of Research Methods, GIS and the final year research report, which are entirely coursework assessed) are assessed through a mix of coursework and exam. Assessment methods are closely allied to desired learning outcomes: for example, learning takes place through a combination of group work, field work and independent research, supported by lectures, seminar discussions and tutorials. Assessment of this learning is through individual seminar presentations, group presentations, field reports, essays, literature reviews, ethnographies and data analyses.


Intellectual Skills will be demonstrated verbally and in writing by:

  1. the critical interpretation of data and text;
  2. the abstraction and synthesis of information;
  3. the development of a reasoned argument;
  4. critical judgement and evaluation of evidence;
  5. an evaluation of contrasting theories, explanations and policies;
  6. analysis and problem solving;
  7. decision making.

The curriculum is designed to enable students to understand the links between different sub-disciplines in HG (through, for example, team teaching involving staff working in a variety of sub-disciplines) and to develop specialist knowledge in particular areas (each L3 module has a pre-requisite(s) at L2). Because of a slightly larger range of modules on offer in L3 compared to L2, and because the double weighted research report requires students to select 5 rather than 6 modules at L3, class sizes are smaller, which enables methodological and epistomological issues to be explored in more depth. Students are expected to take a progressively more active role in their own learning, which includes strategies such as peer- and self-assessment and chairing debates, as well as expecting students to undertake more sustained pieces of work (such as the research report at L3, which is supported by regular tutorials and which is introduced by the Social Research Methods module in L2 which teaches a range of research techniques and in which students are required to prepare a research proposal).

C. Human Geography Related Practical and Professional Skills will be demonstrated by:

  1. planning, designing, executing and writing up a piece of rigorous geographical research;
  2. undertaking effective, and safe, fieldwork;
  3. preparing effective maps and diagrams using a range of appropriate technologies;
  4. employing a variety of technical methods for the analysis of spatial and environmental information;
  5. collecting, interpreting and combining different types of geographical evidence;
  6. recognising the ethical issues involved in geographical debates and enquiries.

Whilst practical and professional skills are developed in all modules, they are particularly stressed in GY1001, GY1004, GY2001, GY2006 and pursued in the final year research report. Most L2 and L3 modules combine an element of fieldwork either as a class experience, small group work, or individual fieldwork. All students experience group fieldwork in the first semester of their programme which introduces them to the health and safety, and ethical issues of fieldwork. Students are, in most cases, directly assessed on their field experience in the form of a field report, although in some cases the experience is incorporated into a wider assessment. All the above practical and professional skills are assessed in either the L2 Social Research Methods module (in which students design questionnaires, analyse statistics, make verbal presentations and submit reports) or the final year research report (for which students draw on the skills, knowledge and understanding they have developed elsewhere in the programme and which are assessed through a combination of methods including ethnographies, essays, reports, oral presentations, poster presentations, group work, web page design, statistical analysis, data collection, field reports, distance learning packages, applied project work in the community, seen and unseen exam papers.)

D. The key transferable and personal skills which students develop are:

  1. how to learn and study effectively;
  2. written communication skills;
  3. the skills of verbal presentation;
  4. numeracy and computational skills;
  5. information technology skills;
  6. information retrieval and handling skills;
  7. interpersonal skills;
  8. self awareness and self management;
  9. self-motivation;
  10. intellectual maturity and integrity;
  11. awareness of their responsibilities as citizens;
  12. interest in lifelong learning;
  13. flexibility and adaptability;
  14. creativity;
  15. ability to work with others towards a common goal.

These transferable and personal skills are developed throughout the degree and all modules assess skills 1,2,3,6,8,9,10,13 and 14 through a combination of different forms of assessment. A number of modules explicitly develop particular skills, and all students will take at least one of these. For example, numeracy and computing skills are developed in GY1004 in statistical exercises, in GY2001 in environmental data collection, and in GY2006 through analysing questionnaires. IT skills are developed in GY1004 through word processing requirements, computer graphics and an introduction to GIS packages, in GY2001 through reports requiring computer graphics to display statistics, and in GY2008 through web page design. Interpersonal skills and the ability to work collectively are developed in GY2001, where projects are undertaken in groups and where students are assessed on a group presentation, in GY2005 where students work with groups in the community on issues which require geographical input, and in GY2014 in which students conduct ethnographies in groups. The Course Handbook specifies in some detail how students are expected to develop the skills listed left, as well as academic conventions regarding plagiarism (D10), health and safety issues (C2) and ethical issues, including observing equal opportunities and anti-harassment policies in the department.

Benchmarking and Programme Specifications

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GDN pages archived October 2007
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