UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)


Geography & the Built Environment

Find out more about the Geography & the Built Environment foundation subject on the UPC. Learn about what you will study, teaching methods, assessments and recommended reading.

Key information

Subject title: Geography & the Built Environment

Subject type: optional

UPC pathway: UPCH

Subject leader: Dr Dan Kilburn

Number of students (2022-23): 29

Subject description

The Geography & the Built Environment (GABE) foundation subject draws on knowledge and approaches from the social science disciplines of human geography and urban studies.

It is an optional module on the Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate for Humanities (UPCH).

We explore how we can better understand the social, economic, cultural and political challenges arising from an increasingly ‘global’ world.

The subject also focuses on inequalities between people and places. We encourage you to ask and answer important questions about how globalisation and urbanisation affect our world’s past, present and future.

Topics include:

  • the concepts of space and place
  • the history of globalisation
  • culture and consumption
  • migration and movement
  • the growth of cities
  • architecture and urban design

The subject has been designed in collaboration with UCL's world-leading Department of Geography. You’ll engage with international research in geography, architecture and related social science fields.

This subject will prepare you to study a range of degrees across the social sciences or humanities. If you want to understand more about the world and our place within it, then this subject is an ideal choice.

How we teach Geography & the Built Environment

Teaching includes weekly seminars, question and answer sessions and small-group classes. You’ll develop your understanding through (pre-recorded) lectures and assigned readings which are accessible online. You’ll also benefit from one-to-one tutorials with subject teaching staff at least once per half term.

When researching the social world and the built environment, you’ll gain a range of practical and academic skills. Inside the classroom, you’ll learn how to analyse texts, images and building designs. Outside the classroom, you’ll undertake fieldwork and observations in urban environments.

You’ll also conduct interviews or surveys within the population. There will be many opportunities to put these skills into practice throughout the course. You’ll do this by writing essays and research reports, delivering presentations and discussing ideas in seminars and classes.

To complete this subject, you need to carry out an independent research project. You’ll collect and analyse data on a topic of your choice (with a focus in or on London). You’ll also undertake group research projects and fieldwork.

Past field trips have included: the British Museum, Kings Cross re-development, Museum of London Docklands, Houses of Parliament and the seaside town of Margate (Kent).


Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the subject, you should be able to:

  • apply key geographical concepts such as ‘space’, ‘place’ or ‘scale’ to real-world topics or issues
  • write persuasive essays or research reports by drawing on a range of academic sources
  • work together with students and staff to create new knowledge, gather data and/or communicate geographical ideas
  • think critically by asking and addressing important questions relating to power, inequality and difference in the world around us

Overview of Summative Assessment

OneEnd of Term Exam (2 hours)5%
Two End of Term Exam (2 hours)5%
ThreeResearch Project30%
 Final Written Exam (3 hours)50%
 Final Oral Exam (20 mins)10%
  100% Total 

Assessment weighting is for the 2022-23 academic year. This may change for 2023-24 entry.

Recommended reading

There is no required pre-reading for this subject. We strongly advise you not to purchase any books, as all readings are provided in electronic format from a wide range of sources.

However, the following readings may be of interest if you are considering the subject:

  • Cloke, Paul., Crang, Philip., Goodwin, Mark. (2013) Introducing Human Geographies, Third Edition, London: Hodder Arnold. (View preview chapters)
  • Jones, Andrew. (2012). Human Geography: The Basics. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Massey, Doreen. (2006). 'Chapter 4 - The geographical mind'. In Secondary Geography Handbook. Sheffield: Geographical Association. pp. 46-51. (Short essay is available online)

Subject selection guide

Please check out our optional subject selection guide for information on suitable subjects for your future degree plans.

Please note the information on all the UPC subject pages, including this one, reflects the subject as it was taught in the 2022-23 academic year (unless otherwise stated).