Geography Reading List

For prospective students

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.

  • 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.

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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.

For offer holders

You are not expected to read extensively in preparation for your course at Cambridge. However, the following books should provide some useful background material for each of the first-year papers.

For Human Geography: People, Place and Politics of Difference

  • Held, D. (ed) 2004 A Globalizing world? Culture, Economics, Politics, Routledge / Open University Press, 2nd edition

  • Murray, W.E. 2006 Geographies of Globalization, Routledge

  • Gough, J., Eisenschitz, A. and McCulloch, A. 2006 Spaces of Social Exclusion, Routledge

For Historical Geography

  • Davis, M. 2000 Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Modern World Economy, London: Verso

  • Graham, B and Nash, C (eds) 2000 Modern Historical Geographies, Prentice Hall

  • Pomeranz, K. 2000 The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy, Princeton University Press

For Society Environment and Development

  • Adams, W.M. 2001 Green Development: environment and sustainability in the Third World, Routledge, 2nd edition

  • Allen, T. and Thomas, A. (eds) 2000 Poverty and Development into the 21st Century, Oxford University Press

  • Lawson, V. 2007 Making Development Geography, Hodder Arnold, London

For the Physical Geography courses (Environmental Processes and Environmental Change)

  • Barry, R.G., Chorley, R.J. and Chase, T. 2003 Atmosphere, weather and climate, Routledge

  • Masselink, G. and Hughes, M.G. 2003 An introduction to coastal processes and geomorphology, Hodder Arnold

  • Gaston, K. and Spicer, J. 2004 Biodiversity, Blackwell, 2nd edition

  • Francis, P. and Oppenheimer, C. 2004 Volcanoes, Oxford University Press

If you would like to buy something relevant to your Geography course, two books which are highly recommended as being particularly useful are:

  • Thomas, D and Goudie, A (eds) 2000 The Dictionary of Physical Geography, Blackwell, 3rd edition

  • Johnston, R et al (eds) 2000 The Dictionary of Human Geography, Blackwell, 4th edition

For more information, please consult the Department of Geography website via the link below.

All the information and documents you need if you've already been accepted for an undergraduate place at King's.
You are strongly advised to read these documents which form part of the terms of admission referred to in your offer letter.

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