Geography Major

Department of Geography

Department Faculty

The Geography Program

The Geography Department hosts two programs, a traditional degree program and a certificate program in Geographic Information Science. In the Bachelor of Arts degree program, students study the interactions between people and their environments, both human and natural. Geographers examine the places and regions resulting from such interactions and analyze the spatial characteristics of all manner of natural, cultural, economic, and political processes and relationships. The Geography program at Mary Washington has three areas of emphasis:

Community, Development, and Culture:

A focus on how people living in specific places and regions experience and affect social, cultural, economic, and environmental processes. Includes course work in planning and urban geography, local and international development, race and place, human-environment relationships, and regional geographies.


A focus on the geographies of globalization and its political, cultural, and economic dimensions. Includes course work in geopolitics, economic and cultural globalization, international development, migration, and regional geographies.

Nature and Society:

A focus on the physical and social processes that shape the natural environmental and affect human life. Includes course work in landforms, climatology, human-environment relationships and regional geographies.

All geography majors acquire spatial thinking skills by studying research methods appropriate for their area of emphasis. These include: geographic information systems (GIS), cartography, remote sensing, field methods, quantitative, and qualitative methods. Majors are also encouraged to engage in internships, study abroad programs, and undergraduate research.

The facilities for geographic studies at Mary Washington include well-equipped laboratories for the study and practice of physical geography, GIS, cartography, and remote sensing. The department hosts a chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon, the International Geography Honorary Society.

Requirements for the Geography Major

A minimum of 35 credits in Geography, Geographic Information Science, and related disciplines, including no more than two courses not designated GEOG or GISC.

1) Introductory Courses

GEOG 101 or 102 (3 credits), and GEOG 110 AND 111 (8 credits). EESC 112 can substitute for GEOG 111.

2) Intermediate Course

One course in geography (3 credits) chosen from GEOG 200 – GEOG 249. These will be chosen by the student in consultation with her/his academic advisor to reflect the student’s area of emphasis.

3) Research Methods

Two courses in methods and techniques (6-8 credits), at least one of which must be either a GEOG or GISC course, and at least one of which must be at the 300 level. Students may choose from GEOG 250, 252, 340, 351, 355, 363, 365, GISC 200, 351. ANTH 298, SOCG 364, or SOCG 365 may substitute for one geography methods course.

4) Advanced Courses

Two courses in geography (6 credits) chosen from GEOG 300-339, 360, 410, 485, or 491. These will be chosen by the student in consultation with her/his academic advisor to reflect the student’s area of emphasis.

5) Senior Seminar

GEOG 490 (3 credits), usually taken during the Fall semester of the senior year, is the required capstone to the major.

6) Electives

Two additional courses (6-8 credits), one of which must be at the 300- or 400-level, chosen by the student in consultation with her/his academic advisor to reflect the student’s area of emphasis. Any geography course or approved course in related fields fulfills this requirement.

Certificate in Geographic Information Science can be found by using this link.

Master of Science in Geospatial Analysis Accelerated Degree Program – see Undergraduate-Graduate Program in Geography/MSGA

Geography Course Offerings

Geography course offerings will be found under the 4 letter code of GEOG in the course listings.

101 – World Regional Geography (3)

An appreciation of spatial patterns in the distribution of physical and human characteristics of the major regions of the world.

102 – Introduction to Human Geography (3)

An examination of the political, economic, and cultural processes that shape the distribution, spaces, and places of contemporary societies.

110 – Introduction to Weather and Climate (4)

Foundational concepts of physical geography. Concentration on weather, climate, and world vegetation regions. Laboratory.

111 – Landform Processes (4)

Prerequisite: GEOG 110. Survey of the processes, both tectonic and climatic, that shape the earth’s surface. Laboratory.

200 – Topics in Geography (variable 1-4)

Lecture class dealing with a pre-selected topic of current interest. May include laboratory. (May be repeated for credit with change of topic)

221 – Geography of Eastern North America (3)

Regional geography of the eastern United States and Canada, stressing similarities and differences in land, life, and livelihood.

222 – Geography of Western North America (3)

Regional geography of the western United States and Canada, stressing similarities and differences in land, life, and livelihood.

231 – Introduction to Planning (3)

A survey of basic concepts, laws, and methods used in city and regional planning, illustrated with case studies.

236 – Globalization and Local Development (3)

Analysis of the history and current conditions of the world-economy focusing on local-global relationships and on the roles of technological change, the state, and transnational corporations in explaining the geographies of globalization.

237 – Cities (3)

An exploration of the complexities and contradictions of city life and urban processes. Includes an introduction to debates about the economic, political, environmental, and cultural roles and meanings of cities and instruction in basic research methods used by urban researchers.

240 – Natural Hazards (3)

Prerequisite: GEOG 110 or permission of instructor. The study of natural hazards from a geographic perspective including physical processes, risk factors, and the vulnerability of populations in both more and less developed countries.

241 – Biogeography (3)

Prerequisites: GEOG 110 or permission of instructor.  This course introduces biogeography, the study of the distribution of organisms through space and time, the patterns created by those distributions, and the reasons for them.

245 – Environment and Society (3)

A geographic survey of environmental changes caused by human activities, with emphasis given to resource exploitation, conservation, pollution, and interactions of humans with plant and animal communities.

250 – Introduction to Geographic Information Systems and Cartography (4)

An introduction to the principles of GIS and cartography and their use in presenting and analyzing geographic information. Laboratory.

252 – Introduction to Quantitative Methods in Geography (3)

Prerequisite: 6 hours in GEOG or permission of instructor.   An introduction to the quantitative methods used by geographers to analyze and interpret geographic data and solve geographic problems.  Includes descriptive and inferential statistics, and an exploration of how quantitative research questions and techniques are situated within the broader discipline of geography.

301 – Geography of Latin America and the Caribbean (3)

Regional geography of the lands and peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, with particular emphasis on the cultural, political, economic and historical bonds that unify the region.

304 – Geography of the Middle East (3)

An examination of the Middle East in the world including the political, cultural, social, and economic processes that orient perceptions of and in the Middle East.

305 – Geography of Sub-Saharan Africa (3)

A study of Africa south of the Sahara, focusing on the political, economic and social development of the region.

307 – Geography of Asia (3)

A survey of the human and physical geography of Asia with emphasis on the cultural, economic, and political conditions within Asia and the region’s relationships with the rest of the world. The course will often focus on one of Asia’s subregions.

325 – Dynamic Climatology (3)

Prerequisite: GEOG 110 or permission of instructor. A study of the atmospheric dynamics that control earth’s climates.

326 – Glacial Processes and Landscapes (3)

Prerequisite: GEOG 111 or EESC 112. An investigation into glacial processes and the landforms associated, both directly and indirectly, with glaciation. One weekend field trip may be scheduled.

327 – Climate Change (3)

Prerequisite: GEOG 110 or EESC 111. An examination of the mechanisms and evidence for climate change over various timescales.

331 – Race and Place in America (3)

An analysis of how place and space have shaped our understandings and experiences of race in the United States. Topics include segregation, white supremacy groups, immigration, and how law has interpreted racialized geographies.

332 – Migration Politics in a Globalizing World (3)

An examination of the politics of movement and mobility in international migration and of the spaces created by interactions between migrants, governments, and residents.

333 – Regional Planning Seminar (3)

Prerequisite: GEOG 231 or HISP 209. An examination of planning issues at the regional scale. Topics include the historical foundation of regional planning, the political and economic relationships between the suburban and urban jurisdictions, and the opportunities and obstacles involved with implementing the regional coordination of transportation planning, environmental planning, and economic development.

335– Sacred Spaces (3)

An examination of the intersection of geography and religion with an emphasis on sacred spaces.  The course explores how religions understand, create, and give meaning to sacred space, and includes a review of major theories and methods in the geographic study of religion.

337 – The Nature of Cities (3)

Prerequisite: GEOG 237 or permission of the instructor. Examination of the multiple intersections between cities and nature, including the environmental explanations for the location of cities, the role of green spaces in cities, ecological models of cities and environmental justice issues.

338 – Geopolitics (3)

Prerequisites: Junior or Senior status.  An analysis of power, ideology and identity in and across space. The class focuses on how geopolitical theories have changed over time and vary across places and introduces students to critical geopolitics.

339 – Geography and Development (3)

An examination of local and global geographies of uneven development, including a review of major theories and introducing a spatial approach to cultural, economic, political, and environmental problems of uneven development.

340 – Remote Sensing and Air Photo Interpretation (4)

Prerequisite: GEOG 250 or EESC 205 or GISC 200. Analysis of remotely-sensed images with emphasis on the interpretation of aerial photographs and the use of imagery in geographical research. Laboratory.

351 – Spatial Analysis with GIS (4)

Prerequisite: GEOG 250 or EESC 205 or GISC 200. Concepts and applications of geographic information systems (GIS). Emphasis on the use of GIS as a method for analyzing and solving geographic problems. Laboratory.

355 – Mobile Geographic Information Systems and Global Positioning Systems (4)

Prerequisite: GEOG 250 or EESC 205 or GISC 200. Concepts and techniques of field mapping using Mobile GIS and GPS, including data collection and analysis. Detailed study of technology and applications of global positioning systems. Requires fieldwork. Laboratory.

360 – Geographic Study Abroad (variable 1-6)

Travel to a foreign region where students will attend lectures, observe geographic phenomena, and participate in group discussions.

363 – Qualitative Methods in Geography (3)

An examination of the philosophies and techniques of doing qualitative research in geography. Includes data collection and analysis using interviewing, observation, participatory research, visual techniques, cognitive mapping, archival research, and content analysis.

365 – Field Methods in Geography (4)

Prerequisite: 12 credits in Geography. Methods of systematic observation, survey design, mapping, writing reports based on field experience, and exploratory trips to a variety of locales.

410 – Advanced Topics in Geography (variable 1-4)

Advanced seminar dealing with a pre-selected topic of current interest. May include laboratory. (May be repeated for credit with change of topic)

485 – Readings in Geography (variable 1-3)

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. Directed readings on a selected topic in geography under the guidance of a member of the geography faculty.

490 – Senior Seminar in Geography (3)

Prerequisite: Senior majors only. An intensive study of one of the subfields of geography, with emphasis on critical reading of the literature and group discussion.

491 – Individual Study in Geography (variable 1-6)

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. Intensive individual research of some geographic issue under the guidance of a member of the geography faculty.

499 – Internship (variable 1-6)

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. Supervised off-campus experience. Pass/fail only. Does not count toward geography major.