University of Sydney Handbooks - 2019 Archive

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Study in the discipline of Geography is offered by the School of Geosciences in the Faculty of Science. Units of study in this major are available at standard and advanced level.

About the major

Geography is the study of earth as the home of people. As the need to find solutions to issues of environmental degradation and sustainability, population change and globalisation have become more challenging, the skills and knowledge of geographers have come to the forefront.

Through a geography major, you will study the interactions between earth, environment and society. This involves consideration of such issues as climate change, population growth, hazards and environmental management. You will have the opportunity to go on field trips to overseas locations and to rural and urban parts of Australia, and participate in tutorial debates about such issues as global inequality and poverty. You will also engage in computer-based analysis of geographic data, and on-line discussion boards and interactive education techniques.

Requirements for completion

A major in Geography requires 48 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 6 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 6 credit points of 2000-level selective units
(iv) 6 credit points of 3000-level core units
(v) 6 credit points of 3000-level core interdisciplinary project units
(vi) 12 credit points of 3000-level disciplinary selective or interdisciplinary project selective units

A minor in Geography requires 36 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 6 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 6 credit points of 2000-level selective units
(iv) 6 credit points of 3000-level core units
(v) 6 credit points of 3000-level core interdisciplinary project units

First year

GEOS1X01 and GEOS1X02 provide an introduction to the study of Geography, and to the social and biophysical phenomena that are the objects of geographical inquiry. These units provide an introduction to the conceptual frameworks within which contemporary geographers work, and provide a platform for specialisation within the discipline in later years.

Second year

GEOS2X21 provides all students in the Geography major and minor with the essential concepts that frame interactions between humans and other components of the earth system. In addition, students may choose from a range of units that support specialisation in human geography (GEOS2X23) or physical geography (GEOS2X16, GEOS2X11, GEOS2X15).

Third year

The third year in the Geography major and minor provides you with training in methods and practice of contemporary geographical inquiry, and explores in detail the concepts that frame them. In addition to the core units (GEOS3X33 and GEOS3X19), selective units in human (GEOS3X30, GEOS3X24, GEOS3X53) and physical geography (GEOS3X09, GEOS3X14, GEOS3X03) allow you to complete your specialisation within Geography.

In your third year you must take at least one designated project unit.

Fourth year

The fourth year is only offered within the combined Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies course.

Advanced coursework
The Bachelor of Advanced Studies advanced coursework option consists of 48 credit points, with a minimum of 24 credit points at 4000-level or above. Of these 24 credit points, you must complete a project unit of study worth at least 12 credit points. Advanced coursework will be included in the table for 2020.

Meritorious students in the Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies may apply for admission to Honours within a subject area of the Bachelor of Advanced Studies. Admission to Honours requires the prior completion of all requirements of the Bachelor of Science, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units. If you are considering applying for admission to Honours, ensure your degree planning takes into account the completion of a second major and all OLE requirements prior to Honours commencement.

Unit of study requirements for Honours in the area of Geography: completion of 36 credit points of project work and 12 credit points of coursework. Honours units of study will be available in 2020.

Contact and further information


T +61 2 9351 2912

School of Geosciences
Room 348, Madsen Building F09
University of Sydney NSW 2006

Dr Daniel Penny
T +61 2 9351 6464

Example pathways

Human Geography Pathway (major)
GEOS3X19, GEOS3X33, GEOS3X20 and/or GEOS3X24, and GEOS3X53

Physical Geography Pathway (major)
GEOS2X11 and/or GEOS2115, GEOS2X21 and GEOS2X16
GEOS3X19, GEOS3X33, GEOS3X09 and/or GEOS3X14 and/or GEOS3X03

Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate from Geography will be able to:

  1. Exhibit a broad and coherent body of knowledge of geographical concepts, history and subfields within its context as an academic discipline and acknowledge the contested and situated nature of geographical understanding.
  2. Integrate a deep understanding of geographical concepts and principles to describe processes that shape environments and societies.
  3. Recognise the co-constitutive nature of social and biophysical phenomena and apply this understanding to a range of social and environmental issues.
  4. Generate, analyse and interpret quantitative and qualitative data from biophysical and human environments, with specific competencies in geospatial techniques.
  5. Work competently, confidently and safely in field and laboratory environments.
  6. Communicate geographical perspectives and knowledge effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences using appropriately selected written, oral and visual means.
  7. Apply geographical principles creatively, critically and appropriately to specific spaces, places and/or environments.
  8. Resolve geographical questions by ethical means, applying evidence-based knowledge and appropriate research techniques, including those associated with field work.
  9. Contribute effectively as a member or leader of diverse teams, working with consideration of cross-cultural perspectives within collaborative, interdisciplinary contexts.