An Introduction


The purpose of this site is to give a short introduction to and provide some guidelines for writing in geography. The links to the right provide brief descriptions of how geography departments present themselves and what types of writing they expect and produce. The tabs at the top left of this page provide access to definitions of terms used in this site and sources referenced.

Geography is a discipline with many dimensions. The major divisions are Physical, Human and Environmental. Subdivisions occur within these subjects such as Cultural, Regional and Urban within the Human division or Geomorphology, Hydrology and Climatology within Physical. At some universities, geography is not a very large discipline and can often be found in other departments such as “Geology and Geography” or “Environmental Studies.” The department at the University of Texas is designated the "Department of Geography and the Environment."

Geography can prove to be a difficult subject to pin down in terms of writing because it spans the gap between the social sciences and natural sciences. Therefore, there exist less scientifically focused subjects and more scientifically focused subjects within geography. The latter has methods for research and reporting that are more likened to those of a scientific subject (i.e., lab work, less empirical data, more technical equipment). This can be something of an issue for writers new to the discipline. Some courses in geography will require labs while others require research papers, and some will require both. Usually, the physical side of geography will require data collection and lab work, where the human may request more research papers. The environmental division could require either one. However, each university's department divides up geography in their own way, and so these requirements change from faculty to faculty. Thus, geographers should be versatile writers or work toward the goal of at least understanding the different writing requirements.

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