Geography Course and Class Descriptions

Geography courses are offered at many schools and may be part of an undergraduate or advanced degree program. A program that focuses on geography often includes classes covering areas of specialization within the field.

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Essential Information

Geography, the study of the earth's surface, is an academic discipline that can lead to a career in mapping, planning, or environmental protection. Several colleges and universities offer undergraduate, master's, and doctoral degrees in geography, and many allow students a chance to focus in specific areas within this field, like global information systems (GIS) or environmental geography. Field study and lab work is often required in geography courses at all levels.

Here is an outline of common concepts taught in geography courses:

  • Human geography
  • Physical geography
  • Globalization
  • GIS and mapping
  • Geopolitics

List of Courses

Human Geography

This class focuses on how the world's population impacts the globe and is required for further study in the field. Topics include population growth, economic development, urbanization, resource allocation, land use and geopolitics. Human geography courses also serve as an introduction to the many computer programs, satellite systems and other technologies used in the field. This class is one of the first courses geography majors must take and is usually offered during the freshman year.

Physical Geography

This class, a foundation in the study of geography, studies the physical character of the earth. Students learn about climate issues, weather patterns, landforms, soils, vegetation and water usage. Laboratory work is routinely part of any physical geography course. This class is often offered in the first year of study.

Geographic Information Systems

Geographic information systems, better known as GIS, have grown in popularity over the past few years and are frequently used in mapping and cartography. Students in this class learn about current applications of GIS, data collection and mining, digital mapping, spatial analysis and usage of GIS in public policy. Students also use computer programs, such as ArcView, that are routinely used in GIS development.

Environmental Geography

The division of the world's natural resources, along with the pollution that mankind generates, is one of the main issues that geographers face. Students study how the environment changes, environmental geography, the fundamentals of environmental science, biodiversity, energy use, water and forest resources, the relationship between economics and the environment and environmental data collection. Field work is typically included.

Political Geography

All nations live within a geographic space; this class shows how the boundaries of countries have a major role in economics, environmental issues and even warfare. Topics include the history of nation states, boundary formations, issues of natural resources, geopolitical history, political and economic systems, the development of cities and the impacts of globalization. In some classes, professors require students to read a newspaper or magazine and relate current news events to issues raised in class.

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