Geography is an exciting and distinctive discipline at the interface between Science and Arts. Geography also has links to Law, Sociology, Engineering, Computer Science and Health Sciences. Its focus is on putting various types of knowledge together to find innovative solutions to problems faced by global society, including issues such as climate change, poverty, sustainability, health and inequality. We aim to provide courses and learning that will enable you to make a difference in your chosen career path after university.
Learning in geography will enable you to take an informed and analytical view of our changing world, and of your place in it. The relationships between people and their environments is a key geographical theme, as is the ways in which these relationships can be made more sustainable for the future. This puts geography at the core of many important current debates. For example, geographers are able to examine the issue of climate change holistically by looking at both the physical factors that affect the problem and also the human responses to the challenges created.
The undergraduate programme is structured around four curriculum pathways: physical geography, human geography, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and resource and environmental management.
The Geography department is committed to close contact between students and our dynamic and enthusiastic staff. 100-level students have their own laboratory, and the department's learning centre and computer labs are available to students for quiet study, group work and research. Fieldwork in various places is an integral part of many courses. Lecturing staff are readily available in their offices to talk to students.
The Department of Geography hosts both the GeoHealth Laboratory Te Tai Whenua o te Hau Ora and the University Centre for Atmospheric Research. It also has close links with Gateway Antarctica, located in the same building.
The department operates climate stations in the Southern Alps and elsewhere in the South Island, and utilises the University's field stations at Cass, Kaikoura, Westport and Harihari. Staff and graduate students often make summer visits to Scott Base in Antarctica.
Entry into Geography is open to all students who are eligible to enter a New Zealand university. The essential background is a lively and enquiring interest in change in today's world. Some experience of geography in Year 12 and Year 13 will help, but is not strictly necessary. Depending on how students wish to develop their geographical interests, a background in science or experience of humanities and social science subjects is very useful.
You can take one, two or all three of the 100-level courses, depending on preference. However, it is normally necessary to take and pass two in order to gain entry into 200-level Geography courses. The 100-level courses are interrelated, with GEOG 106 based on an integrated approach to understanding the interaction of physical and human processes, and the other two papers focussed more on natural and human environments, respectively.
Each course has three hours of lectures a week. There are also regular two-hour lab classes in each case, for exploring the issues raised in lectures in more detail. These labs are an opportunity both to get to know your classmates better, as much of the work is group-based, as well as to gain some experience of practical investigation in geography.
There is a range of courses at 200 and 300-level. These are broadly arranged in four curriculum pathways of study: physical geography, human geography, resource and environmental management, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). You can specialise within or combine courses from these streams (as many students do).
- Physical Geography is catered for in GEOG 201 and 211, followed by GEOG 310–313 and 340.
- Human Geography in GEOG 202 and 213 followed by GEOG 321 and 322.
- Resource and Environmental Management by GEOG 206 and 211 followed by GEOG 305.
- Geographic Information Systems by GEOG 205, 313, 323 and 324.
GEOG 309 is a research methods course designed to reinforce study in all of these streams.
Honours, master's and PhD degrees are all offered.
Recent graduates have had postings all over New Zealand and the world, from Auckland to Melbourne, California to Antarctica. Many have found careers in the public service, the tourism industry, private companies dealing with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS), the police, local authorities, and in education.
The Resource Management Act has created a lively market for geographers in consultancy, and in regional and local government. Those who gain technical expertise in areas such as GIS and remote sensing are in demand from both the public and private sectors. In addition, research and policy positions in central, regional and local government are popular.
Some graduates find work overseas, for Foreign Affairs, development agencies and the United Nations, or in positions that are particularly people-focused, like the union movement, teaching and personnel, where communication skills are critical.
For further career information, please go to www.canterbury.ac.nz/careers