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Geography Teaching and research in Geography closely engages with the southern African region while drawing on broad theoretical frameworks and global matters such as global climate change, global environmental policy and global development agendas.
Geography Teaching and research in Geography closely engages with the southern African region while drawing on broad theoretical frameworks and global matters such as global climate change, global environmental policy and global development agendas.

Qualification: BSc

Faculty: Science

Study mode: Full-time

Overview

Majoring in Geography provides a grounding in:

  • Environmental change - from land degradation to environmental management.
  • Environmental policy - including global and national environmental agendas, shortfalls, and policy implementation.
  • Earth systems - from climate studies and meteorology, to earth surface processes, to earth’s biodiversity and
  • ecosystems.
  • Human society - looking at economic development, climate and society, cultural geography and urban dynamics.

Geographical Information Systems and Remote Sensing - foundation courses in GIS and Remote Sensing are carried out in our GIS labs during the second and third years of study.

Geography is an excellent general subject for undergraduates majoring in other subjects in either the Faculty of Science or the Faculty of Humanities.

Science background

  • Environmental Assessment
  • Urban and Rural Development
  • Climate Change and Carbon Credit
  • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Hydrology
  • Ecosystem Services
  • Food Security
  • Meteorology and Weather Forecasting
  • Geomorphology
  • Tourism development
  • Water or Aquatic Resources Management.

Humanities background

  • Biodiversity Conservationist
  • Climate Change analyst
  • Environmental consultant
  • Food Security policy analyst
  • Geomorphologist
  • Hydrologist
  • Market Researcher
  • Meteorologist / Weather Forecaster
  • Property Developer
  • Urban planner
  • Rural development strategist
  • Tourism officer
  • Water or Aquatic Resources Manager

GEOG1000A Geography I

This is a year-long course that offers new perspectives on the importance of Geography to a wide range of contemporary issues affecting the world. The fields of study covered relate to aspects of both physical and human geography and a strong emphasis is placed on the development of geographical skills and the application of geographical ideas to the real world. There are four topics covered in Geography I. Please also consult the course noticeboard as often as possible as all-important announcements and notices pertaining to the Geography I course are posted here and, once up, are considered read by all students.

Environmental Change, Prof. Jennifer Fitchett

This course seeks to develop an understanding of the history and nature of the human-environment relations sub-discipline of Geography. It further develops an understanding of key environmental challenges, their human dimensions and prospects for a sustainable future. The course includes a focus on global air pollution, tropical deforestation, water resources (inland water quality, oceans and big dams) and natural hazards.

Landscapes of Southern Africa, Prof. Jasper Knight

This is an introductory course to physical geography and the processes that shape and modify the Earth's surface. It adopts a multi-disciplinary approach which looks at the interactions between the hydrosphere and geosphere and explains, in terms of systems theory, how the landscape is modified and the role that humans have on the geomorphic environment.

Space and Society, Dr Melanie Samson

The aim of this course is to provide an understanding of some of the key concepts and debates in human geography and to learn to analyse social issues geographically. Key concepts covered include: space, power, colonialism, gender, race, class, mobility, inequality, inclusion/exclusion, nationalism, the economy, urban order, informality, and the state. We develop an understanding of these concepts through analysis of issues we encounter everyday living in Johannesburg such as informal trading, services, transport, crime, and waste. There is a research component attached to this course.

Atmospheric Science, Dr Mary Evans

The aim of this course is to provide you with an understanding of the concepts of climatology. This course focuses on the causes, processes and consequences of weather on both a local and global scale. The course includes the earth’s energy budget, atmospheric moisture and motion, South African weather and climate change issues.

Geography II

GEOG2015A Thinking Geographically, Dr Alex Wafer

This course introduces students to key theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches within the discipline of human geography. The course teaches students to understand and apply theoretical perspectives in analysing contemporary issues in the disciplines of human and environmental geography, through a mixture of class-room based lectures, laboratory tutorials and off-campus field research.

GEOG2013A Geographic Information Systems, Science and Mapping, Dr Stefania Merlo and Dr Cletah Shoko

This course aims to introduce students to some of the technical and theoretical concepts which underpin the construction of spatial information. In order to represent space or objects that have a spatial context, we need to think about how we conceptually view space and what techniques are available to quantify space and measure it. A Geographic Information System (GIS) has been defined as a computer software package, which is designed to make a computer think it is a map (Kennedy, 2006) and this is one tool available to represent space. Mapping is an integral part of what geography is about because maps are visual and symbolic representations of space, which are used to highlight the relationships that exist between phenomena. Cartography (and its successor GIS), is not value free or apolitical. It is associated with several key interrelated intellectual moments in the history and philosophy of science that we will explore in class.

At the end of this course students should be able to use a GIS package (we will be using ArcGIS) and critically discuss how spatial information is constructed and the various applications for which it can be used. The functionality of GIS in manipulating and analysing spatial data across a range of applications in physical and human geography will therefore be used to show to students not only how geographical information software systems are configured in practice but also how issues of scale and generalisation have to be addressed and sources of uncertainties need to be explored when creating digital representations of the world.

GEOG2010A Earth and Atmospheric Processes, Prof. Stefan Grab & Dr Raeesa Moolla

This course is based on three interlinked components of global climate dynamics, geomorphological processes and landforms, and the biosphere. The course first examines atmospheric circulation patterns and climate dynamics with particular reference to southern Africa. The role of climate as a control to both geomorphic and ecosystem processes is then explored. Climate as an environmental factor driving various geomorphic processes is critically assessed, including the development of landforms and landscapes, which influence the distribution of biomes, habitats and species. In turn, the biosphere influences global climate. These topics are explored using case studies from around the world and from local to global scales.

GEOG2012A Environmental Governance: From Local to Global, Prof. Mulala Danny Simatele

This course considers the relationships between  unequal access to resources (including natural resources, knowledge, decision making processes, the law, etc), and unsustainable environmental outcomes. This course discusses: (1) environmental problems and protests in developing world cities; (2) global environmental governance and how inequalities at the global level result in the disproportionate ability of nation states to address global environmental issues; and (3) changing patterns in governance away from the nation state and towards a stronger role for sub-national (local) governments and non-state actors.

Conservation Biogeography, Dr Mary Evans

The course begins by reviewing the status of biodiversity on the planet and the motivations for species conservation.  We explore some of the key causes of biodiversity loss and trace the roots of conservation from the early calls for environmental protection to more recent global initiatives, including international agreements and widely accepted conservation categories and guidelines.  We introduce aspects of military geography and the effects of modern warfare on the environment.  The remainder of this course focusses on some of the tools and terminology used in conservation practice, drawing on biogeographical and ecological theory as well as themes in community conservation.

Geography III

GEOG3021A Advanced Atmospheric Science, Dr Raeesa Moolla/ Prof. Jennifer Fitchett

This course discusses atmospheric processes and the interactions of the atmosphere with other earth systems. The course deals with heat and energy exchange in the atmosphere, physical oceanography, ocean-atmosphere interactions, and mesoscale atmospheric processes like thunderstorms and air pollution.

GEOG 3023A Theory and Practice in Sustainability Science and Sustainable Development, Prof. Mulala Simatele

This course considers the theoretical background and practical skills in issues of Sustainability Science and Sustainable Development. The course integrates theoretical knowledge and application of real world sustainability issues through a mix of lectures, seminars and field excursions. The course covers a range of contemporary society and industry-relevant ecological and environmental issues associated with sustainable development, such as the workings and dynamics of biogeochemical (or the natural environment) systems and the role of human activities as a land surface agent. The course includes considerations and applications of key elements and aspects such as environmental impact assessments, environmental monitoring and management tools, technology and the environment, habitat conservation and protected area design, community participation and engagement, as well as knowledge development and transfer within and across communities. These elements are explored and discussed within the broader 'weak' and 'strong' sustainability frameworks. 

GEOG3017A Geographic Information System and Remote Sensing, Prof. Elhadi Adam

This course introduces students to the operations of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing. Lectures introduce and describe operations of specific software packages. Three different types of software operations will be introduced to investigate their applicability in different disciplines such as environmental change detection and hydrology: (1) The raster based software IDRISI Kilimanjaro, with integrated modules for image processing operations, to develop basic practical skills in GIS and remote sensing that can provide the basis for more advanced study and work; (2) the vector based software ArcGIS for handling vector based operation including specific modules for spatial analysis; and (3) open-source software (GRASS), including the programming components for personal customization of all software. Useful and popular add-ons to the software packages will be introduced and discussed. The idea is to broaden the knowledge base of GIS and remote sensing software within the discipline.

GEOG3025A Urban Futures: The Political Economy of Population and Scarcity, Dr Alex Wafer

This course offers an historical and theoretical account of contemporary challenges in the governance of cities, as well as a set of intellectual tools for understanding and critically engaging with these challenges. The course develops skills in explaining, interpreting and developing innovative responses to social, political and economic issues related to the governance of large and complex cities. These skills are developed through seminar discussions, group-work and student-led course content.

GEOG3024A Environmental Monitoring and Modelling, Prof. Craig Sheridan

This course provides a broad introduction into the theory and methods of environmental data collection and the practice of environmental monitoring. Examples and case studies are drawn from a wide range of environmental fields including meteorological and hydrological monitoring, air and water pollution monitoring and other aspects of environmental change science. The course covers a range of environmental data collection approaches from citizen science to professional environmental monitoring using specialist equipment, with an exploration of the role and limitations of each. The course includes a mixture of lectures, seminars, practical exercises in data analysis and practical experience of varied monitoring and environmental data collection methods in the field.

GEOG3019A Economic Geography, Dr Melanie Samson

This course focuses on selected issues in the field of economic geography. Issues of concern include theoretical and policy debates around spatial inequality and regional development, the informal economy, and small business development. Contemporary debates in economic geography in South Africa are further discussed in this course.

GEOG3020A Climate and Environmental Change, Prof. Stefan Grab

This course examines patterns of climate change through the Quaternary, and in particular during historical and recent times. Causes of climate change (such as Milankovitch, volcanic forcing etc) are addressed. The use of various proxies in climate reconstructions, such as pollen, dendrochronology, varves, geomorphology and historical documentary sources are highlighted. Consideration is given to the impact that climate change has on the environment and human livelihoods. Particular reference is made to the southern African region throughout the course.

GEOG3026A Food: Security, Politics and Culture, Dr Sian Butcher

From a South African point of departure, this course explores the "production of unequal access" to food across society and space (Alkon & Agyeman 2014, 21). This course investigates food and food security via its interdependent relations: relations between humans and the environment; relations between global processes, regional dynamics and unique places with local histories; relations between the present, the past and the future. A critical geographic approach sees these relations as always shaped by power. The course is organised around core political economic themes of production, distribution, exchange and consumption, as shaped by systems of power and everyday practice, but also sites of debate and politics around how to build a more sustainable and just world. Along with engaging theoretical and applied texts, the course also includes a number of empirical practicals and local site visits. 

If you are applying for a BSc degree, you will find information about the BSc points credit structure and entry requirements here.

For those interested in applying for a BA degree, please click here.

Application Closing Date: 30 September 2021

Residence Applications: 30 September 2021

  • The Student Enrolment Centre at Wits handles all student applications.
  • Please click here for an overview of the application process.
  • Check the admission requirements for your degree. Check if any additional selection requirements apply. 
  • Submit your application, required documentation and application fee before the closing date.
  • Once you have applied, an admissions consultant will be assigned to your application.
  • Applicants can monitor the progress of their applications via the Self Service Portal.
  • If you are an international applicant and/or have a foreign qualification, please click here.

Compliance with the minimum requirements does not guarantee a place at the University. The University has a specific number of places for first year undergraduates, approved by the Department of Higher Education and Training. Final selection is made subject to the availability of places, academic results and other entry requirements where applicable.

Click here to see the current average tuition fees for the first year of study. The Fees Office website also provides information about the payment of fees and closing dates for fees payments. Once you have applied you will be able to access the fees estimator on the student self-service portal. 

The Financial aid office provides information about on student funding and scholarships. University funded Scholarships include Vice-Chancellor's Scholarships, University Entrance Scholarships, Equality Scholarships, Sports Scholarships and National Olympiad winner awards. For information about NSFAS funding, please visit the NSFAS websiteExternal bursaries portal: The Bursaries South Africa website provides a comprehensive list of bursaries in South Africa.