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Card-index course

History of Geographical Thought

Histoire de la pensée géographique

Responsible Faculty: Faculty of Geosciences and Environment (FGSE)

Teacher(s): François Mettra, Martin Müller, Patrick Rérat
Lecturer(s): -

Validity: 2017 -> 2018

No timetable defined.

Practical work

Spring semester
26 hours per semester

Teaching language(s): French
Public: No
Credits: 0


The course "History of Geographical Thought" presents and analyses the history of the discipline and the origins of the term Geography from Greek antiquity to the present day. Thus, it introduces students to the cour elements that distinguish geographical thought.


The teaching is organized around the idea of paradigms, a paradigm being defined as a coherent conception of a discipline that is shared by a significant number of its practitioners during a given period. It is possible too distinguish a number of paradigms in the history of Geography:
1. Greek Geography
2. Roman Geography
3. Scholastic geography of the western Middle Ages
4. Geography of the Arab Middle Ages
5. Geography of exploration
6. Natural determinism (the German school of Geography)
7. The French school of Geography
8. Spatial analysis
9. Humanistic Geography
10. Marxist Geography
11. Feminist Geography
12. Poststructuralist Geography
13. More-than-human Geography
In addition, these paradigms need to reflect upon the relationships between Physical and Human Geography.

For each paradigm, the key research questions, theoretical perspectives, methods and approaches and principal actors are presented. A particular focus is given to societal and political context and its relationship with an emerging paradigm, as well as linkages between Geography and other disciplines.

The practical classes that accompany the course have two objectives:
1. To illustrate the paradigms by the analyses of key texts and key people in the discipline.
2. Tu put into practice some of the methods and approaches using various material, and a student-led field class.


Practical work and 1 x 2 hour written exam


Une bibliographie spécifique est donnée pour chaque chapitre.

Pour la deuxième moitié du cours (à partir de la géographie sensible):

Cresswell, T. 2012. Geographic Thought: A Critical Introduction. Oxford: Wiley.

Programme requirements


Canton de Vaud
Swiss University
Unicentre  -  CH-1015 Lausanne  -  Suisse  -  Tél. +41 21 692 11 11  -  Fax  +41 21 692 26 15