Geography reading suggestions

Geography is an exciting subject to study at university that spans key topics across the arts and sciences ranging from cultural representations of landscape in art and cinema to the latest research on global environmental change.  A key part of making the transition from school to university is the development of intellectual curiosity and independent reading.  The list of suggested readings provides a flavour of the types of different sources that you will be using at university ranging from whole books to articles in prestigious international journals.  You may wish to share these suggestions with your teacher or classmates.

- Matthew Gandy, Director of Studies in Geography at King's

Suggested readings:

The Shock of Anthropocene

Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz,
The Shock of the Anthropocene
(London: Verso, 2016).

This timely and provocative book explores whether humankind is now a geological agent in its own right and what critical perspectives we can adopt to better understand global environmental change.

Andrea Wulf,
The invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science

(Hodder & Stoughton, 2016)

In this prize-winning new biography Andrea Wulf describes the life and ideas of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) who is widely regarded as the founder of modern geography. Humboldt was a decisive influence on Darwin and is also credited as a pioneer of ecological thought.

Matthew Gandy,
“Marginalia: aesthetics, ecology, and urban wastelands,”
Annals of the Association of American Geographers 103 (6) (2013) pp. 1301-1316.

Wasteland

There is now increasing recognition that cities have high levels of bio-diversity. This paper explores the significance of marginal spaces such as wastelands for changing conceptions of urban nature.

Download the pdf on the Annals of the Association of American Geographers website.

The Dictionary of Human Geography

Derek Gregory et al.
The Dictionary of Human Geography
ed. by Derek Gregory, Ron Johnston, Geraldine Pratt, Michael Watts and Sarah Whatmore (Wiley-Blackwell,  2009)


This dictionary is a unique source book that comprises hundreds of succinct essays by leading experts on a range of key topics in the discipline along with extensive suggestions for further reading.

Philip Gibbard and John Lewin
“Filling the North Sea Basin: Cenozoic sediment sources and river styles,”
Geologica Belgica (2016) 19 (3-4)

This paper examines how the North Sea basin has been shaped by the long-term interaction between tectonics and climate. Using a diversity of data sources we are able to reconstruct past environments and understand how contemporary landscapes have been produced over time.

Erruptions that shook the world cover

Clive Oppenheimer,
Eruptions that shook the world
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011)

Volcano eruptions are among the most dramatic and significant geological events. In this fascinating book the vulcanologist Clive Oppenheimer, who is a professor in the department of geography at Cambridge, considers how volcano eruptions have intersected with key episodes of human and environmental history such as mass extinctions, the fall of empires, or more recent instances of political instability.

Olive Heffernan
“Climate research is gaining ground,”
Nature Climate Change 6 (2016) pp. 335–338.

An extremely useful overview of recent advances in research into climate change including reflections on the challenging institutional and policy context.

Book cover

Neil Roberts,
The Holocene: an environmental history
Third edition (Oxford: Wiley, 2014)

An overview of global environmental change since the last Ice Age around 15,000 years ago that also includes the growing scale of human impact on the planet. The most recent edition also includes a fully expanded and updated bibliography.

New Left Review cover

Matthew Gandy,
“Learning from Lagos,”
New Left Review 33 (2005), pp. 37-53.

This paper explores recent debates about Lagos and the understanding of African urbanization in the post-colonial era. In particular it critiques the architectural celebration of poverty and informality in the absence of historical and political analysis.

Ron Martin and Peter Sunley
“Deconstructing clusters: chaotic concept or policy panacea,”
Journal of Economic Geography 3 (2003) pp. 5–35.

In this path-breaking article, the Cambridge based geographer Ron Martin, and his colleague Peter Sunley, provide a critical overview of the idea of “clusters” as a focal point for understanding regional economic disparities.

Accessing books and articles

If you are struggling to get hold of a book or journal article that you want to read, do ask a librarian in a big city library or a university library to help you to locate journal articles if you would like to read them.

UK Universities often have schemes to enable sixth form students in their region to use their library facilities. See, for example, details of how local sixth form students can use library facilities at:

Do look for a similar scheme at any universities that you can travel to.

Further information

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