This is a course for first semester geography graduate students. It is a course intended to help formulate knowledge and understanding of geography, its research methods and an understanding of the scientific method. Broad concepts underlying research and the development of a thesis or major research project will be the focus of this course. Students will be asked to develop a research topic and begin the process of writing a review of literature and a begin developing a methodology for their topic during the semester.


Geography 405 is designed as a seminar, not a lecture course. Critical reading and discussion of a wide range of literature will be the major focus of the semester. Active participation is absolutely essential to your success in the course. Altogether, you will write one major paper, complete an annotated bibliography and undertake a series of classroom assignments. Your written work and classroom participation will always be measured against the same standards; your ability to interpret assigned readings critically; to argue your positions effectively; to relate ideas and theory to practice; and to articulate a well-considered personal philosophy of geography. Reading and assignments should be completed on schedule. Classroom assignments and successful completion of the beginnings of a research project will test your understanding of the primary issues raised in the course. The assignments will permit you to pursue particular themes at greater length. Your papers will be graded on both the quality of your written expression and your progression towards a major research project.



This class will be using email, a listserv and the internet for many assignments. You will be instructed on how to obtain the materials you need early in the semester. Subsequently, it will be your responsibility to log onto the system and access the materials needed for this class. We will be using a variety of graphic and word processing programs on both the Macintosh and PC platforms.


Each of the minor assignments you hand in will be graded on a scale of 1-3. These scores will be totaled at the end of the semester. In addition, your class participation will be evaluated on a weekly basis. Your two major assignments--an annotated bibliography and a review of literature, will be graded on an A-F basis. Basically, your written papers will account for approximately 50% of your grade and your class participation and weekly assignments will make up the other 50%. Late papers will be penalized 5 points per day.


This seminar demands active participation in all discussions. This means you must do more than remain up to date in your readings: you must express and defend your findings in class. As was mentioned above, class participation counts toward your final grade. Your participation will be rated each week and the ratings averaged to determine your grade for class participation. It is my policy to award unexcused absences with a grade of 0. The only excused absences arise from family and medical emergencies. I will judge these situations on a case-by-case basis.


It is my policy to penalize anyone who engages in academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty includes, among other offenses, plagiarism of the writing of others, cheating on exams, and submitting the papers of others as your own. As regards to plagiarism, I should note that it is quite common in scholarly essays to refer to and quote from the writings of others. Within limits, this is a good practice--as long as the original author is credited by name and sources in your test, footnotes, and bibliography. It is good practice, as well, to credit paraphrases and summaries you derive from the writings of others. Academic honesty is fundamental to the activities and principles of a university. All members of the academic community must be confident that each person's work has been responsible and honorable acquired, developed, and presented. Any effort to gain an advantage not given to all students is dishonest whether or not the effort is successful. The academic community regards academic dishonesty as an expulsion. When in doubt about plagiarism, paraphrasing, quoting, or collaboration, please consult with me.


If you have special needs as addressed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and need assistance, please notify the Access Office or me immediately. Reasonable effort will be made to accommodate your special needs.