First year Geography BA teaching

We had a meeting last week to decide on the final outline for our Human Geographies of a Changing World module – the core module for first year students on our brand new Geography BA programme at UEA. I’ve found it both exciting and daunting to be involved in this process of creating introductory material for new students from scratch. On the one hand, it’s a privilege to be able to play a part in shaping UEA Geography’s emerging identity, and explore the different ways we can thread our particular concern with the environment through the full spectrum of approaches in academic Geography. On the other hand, its quite a responsibility to be charged with introducing new students to the discipline, and I’m constantly thinking about things we might have missed or that I might misrepresent in my teaching. Though, I’m assured by others that there will inevitably be a process of re-organising and re-writing  after our first year of running this module.

polar bear

My tasks in our new module, will be to introduce our students to the history of capitalism and theories of development in the first semester – both with a healthy dose of colonialism and post-colonialism thrown in. In the second semester I will be teaching introductory sessions on cultural geographies of nature and the Anthropocene, geographical approaches to landscape, and the history of environmentalism. I’m also responsible for the students’ final session on the module, looking forward to the future of human geography. I’m quite pleased with this narrative arc, and hopefully I’ll be able to draw out some interesting connections between my sessions.

I’m currently thinking through ideas for teaching some of my sessions as workshops, and adding some participatory elements to my lectures. I want to incorporate some study skills elements for the students, such as how to read academic papers, as well as encouraging them as early possible to engage with class discussions and present their ideas.

I’ll be posting reflections throughout the year on developing and delivering my teaching over the first year of my lectureship, as well as some of the additional challenges of running a new degree programme and helping the students to feel a collective identity as geographers as well as being an important part of a school of environmental sciences.

Any tips on preparing a set of new lectures and seminars from scratch?

Anything in particular I should be thinking about for first year Geography teaching?

How do you encourage class discussions?


1 thought on “First year Geography BA teaching

  1. samkinsley

    Good stuff! Here’s some very quick thoughts…

    Themes can work – I adopted pop culture, seems to work for me…

    However good your intentions, you will always end up writing some stuff the night before – it’s the nature of the job… ride through that and learn what works for you and your students or doesn’t.

    Write your lecture then read back through and make it more basic and offer more examples that you work through, demonstrating the ideas – for me, first year lectures work best when you’re able to explore ideas with them through examples you find interesting, that way you’re more enthusiastic and that rubs off on them (hopefully!)

    Now, must dash – off to teach!! 🙂



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