You are here

A Student's Introduction to Geographical Thought

A Student's Introduction to Geographical Thought
Theories, Philosophies, Methodologies

Additional resources:

February 2015 | 280 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

This ism-busting text is an enormously accessible account of the key philosophical and theoretical ideas that have informed geographical research. It makes abstract ideas explicit and clearly connects it with real practices of geographical research and knowledge.

Written with flair and passion, A Student's Introduction to Geographical Thought:

  • Explains the key ideas: scientific realism, anti-realism and idealism / positivism / critical rationalism / Marxism and critical realism/ social constructionism and feminism / phenomenology and post-phenomenology / postmodernism and post-structuralism / complexity / moral philosophy.
  • Uses examples that address both physical geography and human geography.
  • Use a familiar and real-world example - ‘the beach’ - as an entry point to basic questions of philosophy, returning to this to illustrate and to explain the links between philosophy, theory, and methodology.

All chapters end with summaries and sources of further reading, a glossary explaining key terms, exercises with commentaries, and web resources of key articles from the journals Progress in Human Geography and Progress in Physical Geography. A Student's Introduction to Geographical Thought is a completely accessible student A-Z of theory and practice for both human and physical geography.

Introduction: Geographers at the beach
Positivism: or, roughly, what you see is what you get
Critical Rationalism: learning from our mistakes
Marxism and Critical Realism: seeking what lies beneath
Phenomenology and Post-phenomenology: the essence of experience or seeing a shark is different from seeing a dolphin
Social Constructionism and Feminism: it’s all down to us
Structuralism, Poststructuralism and Postmodernism: life at the surface
Complexity Theory: from butterfly wings to fairy rings
Moral Philosophy and Ethics: right and wrong in Geography
Thinking, Doing, Constructing Geography

Translating the philosophies of geography to an undergraduate audience is a task beyond many of us, but Pauline Couper succeeds superbly in A Student's Introduction to Geographical Thought. Engaging and relevant, she never patronizes her audience nor trivializes the theories she discusses. A rare, genuinely student friendly text that preserves the complexity of its subject matter whilst allowing the student to engage with it on their own terms.

Tim Hall
University of Winchester

An accessible account of theories and philosophy in and of geography. I hope that every undergraduate studying geography reads this book. Those who do will be enriched.

James D Sidaway
National University of Singapore

I am impressed by this book. It does a good job in trying to make very difficult theories/philosophies accessible to undergraduate students and I really think that this is a very good addition to the textbooks that cover the topic of the History/Philosophy of Geography. There are some aspects that would be good to see covered in more detail in a Second Edition - i.e. the new regional geographies/locality studies work and the influence of structuration theory/geographers such as Doreen Massey in the 1980s. Copies have been ordered for the Maynooth University Library and this will be on the shortlist of four strongly recommended books for GY305

Dr Adrian Patrick Kavanagh
Geography , Maynooth University
November 8, 2016

This book would provide a good overview to the student , however maybe pitched at a Level 7 rather than level 4.
A solid book with key information.

Mrs Honor Holloway
Home Learning College, Bucks New University
September 23, 2016

As the class was already ongoing when I recieved the copy, I highly recommended the book to the students. Personally, I think the book is a very great reading exercise for any student in human geography. I will from now on recommend the book in any of my related classes on bachelor and master level. I showed the boo to colleagues and got good feedbacks, too. Really interesting to read, great work!

Alexander Follmann
Institute of Geography, University of Cologne
February 3, 2016

I like very much the exercises suggested throughout the book, and the further readings.

Professor Gustavo Rodríguez
Geography , Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero
July 6, 2015

A useful overview written in an open accessible way for undergraduate students.

Dr Alan Patterson
Natural & Built Environment, Sheffield Hallam University
June 16, 2015

Unsuitable for third year undergraduate business students seeking an understanding of the location, location concept while studying basic business research skills.

Professor Nondas Pitticas
Business School, University of the West of Scotland
March 15, 2015

Sage College Publishing

You can purchase this book and request an instructor sample on our US College site:

Go To College Site

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.