SFU Calendar 2001-2002

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Department of Geography

7123 Robert C. Brown Hall, (604) 2913321 Tel, (604) 2915841 Fax, www.sfu.ca/geography


A.M. Gill BA (Hull), MA (Alta), PhD (Manit)

Graduate Program Chair

N.K. Blomley BSc, PhD (Brist)

Faculty and Areas of Research

see "Department of Geography". for a complete list of faculty.

W.G. Bailey - physical climatology, ginseng research

N.K. Blomley - political and urban geography

B.E. Bradshaw - environmental economic geography, resource management

T.A. Brennand - glacial geomorphology, quaternary environments, regional paleohydrology

J.A.C. Brohman - third world development, economic geography, Latin America

R.A. Clapp - economic geography, resource conservation, forest policy

L.J. Evenden - urban geography, urban morphology, local government

A.M. Gill - tourism and community planning, resources management

W.G. Gill - urban and social geography

M.V. Hayes - social geography, population health

R. Hayter - regional development, manufacturing, BC's forest economy, Japan

E.J. Hickin - fluvial geomorphology

R.B. Horsfall - social geography, environmental psychology

I. Hutchinson - quaternary environments, coastal studies

J. Hyndman - feminist, political and cultural geography

P.M. Koroscil - historical geography, Canada

L.F.W. Lesack - ecosystem biogeochemistry, land and water interactions, limnology

J.T. Pierce - economic and rural geography, research methodology

B. Pitman - cultural and social geography, urban studies, regional development and planning

W.L. Quinton - hydrology of cold regions, runoff processes

A.C.B. Roberts - cultural, historical, paleo environments, remote sensing, photogrammetry

M.C. Roberts - fluvial geomorphology, field methods

M.L. Roseland - regional planning and sustainable communities

M.G. Schmidt - soil science, forestry, geographic information systems

N.C. Schuurman - geographic information systems, science and technology studies

I. Winton - cultural-historical geography

Areas of Research

The department takes a special interest in the development and evaluation of theoretical frameworks in the systematic aspects of geography. Emphasis is on this application to contemporary and historical geographical problems in western North America, with particular reference to British Columbia and the utilization of its resources.

MA Program


For admission requirements see Graduate General Regulations (page 297). MA/MSc admission is in the fall semester only, and for PhDs in either fall or spring semesters. Fall applications should be completed by February 1 of that year, and applications for spring admission by September 15 of the previous year. The MA candidate, once admitted, works under the guidance of a faculty advisor, pending the choice of a supervisory committee. The supervisory committee, which normally consists of two faculty members, one of whom may be from outside the department, will be chosen by the second semester.

Degree Requirements

The MA program offers a thesis option and an extended essay option. The former option requires the submission of a high quality piece of research which will ordinarily involve the conceptualization of a problem and the collection, analysis and interpretation of empirical data. However, non-empirical research is possible. Extended essay option students submit two essays which are original because they make some distinctive contribution to research literature and ordinarily involve a critical review or synthesis of literature, concepts and/or techniques or the development of hypotheses, possibly to include pilot work. Neither the thesis nor the extended essays should be a modification of a paper completed for course work.

The minimum MA course requirements are 12 credit hours (three one-semester courses) or 20 credit hours for the extended essay option and GEOG 700 and 701. GEOG 700 and 701 grading is satisfactory/unsatisfactory and constitutes a (minimum) requirement in geographic methodology. GEOG 700 and 701 must be taken at the first available opportunity. As part of the 12/20 credit hours, students take either GEOG 704 or 706. With the advisor's consent, the student can request this requirement be replaced by another course.

Students complete minimum Department of Geography requirements. Permission to complete a requirement outside the department must be obtained from the graduate studies committee. Those with course deficiencies may have to complete more courses including undergraduate courses and in other departments. At the supervisory committee's discretion, students may need to acquire knowledge of a language relevant to their studies.

A written thesis prospectus is submitted to the supervisory committee by the end of the semester's third week following completion of GEOG 700 and 701. The supervisory committee must approve the proposal prior to starting substantive research. In addition, the candidate must present the research proposal at a colloquium prior to the end of the third residence semester (or by the end of the semester following completion of GEOG 700 and 701).

Master of Science Program

The department offers a program leading to the MSc degree in the Faculty of Science. see "Geography Program"..

PhD Program

For admission requirements, see "Graduate General Regulations".. Applicants must have completed MA or MSc requirements at Simon Fraser University or equivalent. Students admitted to the PhD program without this background may be required to make up specified courses.

Supervisory Committee

The student, upon admission, works under the guidance of a faculty advisor, pending the choice of a supervisory committee. By the beginning of the second semester, a Department of Geography faculty member is chosen as a senior supervisor of the supervisory committee plus two or more additional committee members, one of whom may be from outside the department.

Degree Requirements

The advisor, and subsequently the supervisory committee, and the student determine a program of study to suit the background and research objectives of the candidate. No formal course work is required of students. After consultation with the supervisory committee, however, students can elect to take courses in order to acquire knowledge and skills, including language skills, relevant to their research.

Comprehensive Examination

Written and oral qualifying exams establish competence to proceed with doctoral thesis research and are normally undertaken at the end of the second residence semester and no later than the end of the third semester. Students who fail the written or oral exam may retake each once, after a one semester lapse. Both parts of the qualifying exam must be successfully completed by the end of the fourth residence semester. The qualifying examination committee consists of at least three department faculty, (including the senior supervisor who is the committee chair), plus one faculty member from outside the department.

Written exams comprise four papers jointly agreed by the qualifying exam committee. If the supervisory committee agrees, a field problem may be chosen which substitutes for one of the four written papers.

The oral is held by the qualifying exam committee within three weeks following completion of written examinations. The student is examined primarily in topics covered by the written examinations, but questions may range over the entire discipline.


Candidates successfully completing qualifying exams will present a thesis proposal which is circulated to faculty and resident graduate students. The candidate presents this proposal at a department colloquium no later than the end of the fifth residence semester. The completed thesis will be judged by the candidate's examining committee at an oral defence. If the thesis defence fails, the candidate is ineligible for further degree candidacy. see "Graduate General Regulations". for further information.

Geography Graduate Courses

GEOG 700-0 Introduction to Graduate Studies: Part I

A required course designed to acquaint new graduate students with the research strengths of the department, research facilities in the University and its vicinity and with the methodologies of the main fields of geography. In addition, problems of both a philosophical and practical nature involved in the design and operationalization of geographic research will be examined.

GEOG 701-0 Introduction to Graduate Studies: Part II

Completion of GEOG 700. Grading of GEOG 700 and 701 will be on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) basis.

GEOG 704-4 Analytical Techniques for Human Geographers

An examination of qualitative and quantitative techniques and associated software relevant to compilation of information for human geographic research.

GEOG 706-4 Quantitative Techniques in Physical Geography

An introduction to quantitative methods, statistical and physical modelling, sensitivity and error analysis, research design and data collection, editing and analysis in physical geography. GEOG 700, 704 and 706 are regularly scheduled in the fall semester and GEOG 701 is regularly scheduled in the spring semester. Courses 708 to 781 are scheduled more intermittently dependent, in part, on demand.

GEOG 708-4 Geographic Ideas and Methodology

This is an advanced course that critically examines the contemporary and historical modes of analysis in geography.

GEOG 710-4 Geography and Ideology

An attempt to define the concept `ideology,' to recognize its operation in geography and to demonstrate its relevance in historical geography, political geography, and in the study of the symbolic structuring of cultural landscapes.

GEOG 714-4 Computer Cartography

Theoretical, algorithmic and practical components in the application of the computer for mapping.

GEOG 715-4 Geographic Information Systems

Data bases, systems concepts, quantitative techniques, modelling and display in geography, on the basis of computer systems.

GEOG 716-4 Aerial Reconnaissance for Remote Sensing

Theoretical and practical training in the acquisition of airborne multispectral remote sensing data.

GEOG 717-4 Digital Processing of Remote Sensing Data

Theory and applications of analytical processing procedures used with multispectral remote sensing data.

GEOG 718-4 Soil Science

Discussion of special topics in soil science: soil physics, soil chemistry, soil biology and/or forest soils.

GEOG 720-4 Ecological Biogeography

Population, community and ecosystem ecology from a biogeographic perspective; island biogeography theory.

GEOG 723-4 Climatology

Recent theoretical developments in climatology.

GEOG 726-4 Fluvial Geomorphology

An examination of current conceptual and methodological issues in fluvial geomorphology based on analyses of the primary research literature.

GEOG 728-4 Advanced Glacial Geomorphology

Critical evaluation of glacial landform-process models focussing on current research problems; field study of glacial landforms and sediments.

GEOG 731-4 Hydrology

This course covers the conceptual and methodological bases of current hydrologic research.

GEOG 734-4 Resources Management

A study of the historical, cultural, economic, social and behavioral aspects of conservation and resource management from an interdisciplinary point of view.

GEOG 736-4 Resources and Environmental Issues in the Growth of Food Production

Concerned with identifying and analyzing constraints to expanding food production within a geographical context.

GEOG 738-4 Water Resources

An examination of various models and methods of water resources development based on case studies from both developed and developing countries.

GEOG 740-4 Geography and the Third World

An examination of the objective geographical conditions in the Third World today and a review of the wide range of theories and suggested solutions of a geographical nature.

GEOG 742-4 Regional Development

Regional development in theory and practice with particular reference to resource based hinterland regions.

GEOG 745-4 Multinational Corporations and Regional Development

An examination of the influence of the policies and structures of multinational corporations on regional economic change.

GEOG 752-4 Cultural Geography

Seminar discussion of selected topics in recent cultural geography, with emphasis on relationships with social theory, current philosophy and research findings in related fields.

GEOG 755-4 Law and the Geographies of Power

An exploration of the emergent literature on law, space and power, this class will consider the social and political construction of law and space, and then track their inter-relations through a number of case studies.

GEOG 756-4 Historical Geography

An examination of the role historical geography plays within the discipline of geography. The course will evaluate the evolution and practical applied aspects of the subject.

GEOG 760-4 Morphogenesis and the Built Environment

This course examines the evolution of built environments in urban contexts. It relates the impetus for morphological change to broad societal processes. Problems of evidence and method are discussed.

GEOG 770-4 Geography, Development Theory, and Latin America

An analysis of geographic aspects of theories of development as they have been applied in Latin America.

GEOG 780-4 Environmental Cognition

Examination of current issues in the study of human understanding and relationships within the (mostly built) environments.

GEOG 781-4 Tactual Mapping: Theory and Practice

An exploration of design principles, production methods, and user training procedures appropriate to thematic and mobility maps for the visually handicapped.

GEOG 791-4 Directed Readings
GEOG 795-4 Selected Topics in Geography

Specialised graduate course on faculty research related topics.

GEOG 797-0 MSc Thesis
GEOG 798-0 MA Thesis
GEOG 799-0 PhD Thesis

Urban Studies Graduate Courses

URB 600-4 Urban Transformations

This course studies the nature and function of cities from a variety of geographical, social, political and economic aspects. The focus is on North American cities but attention will be given to the historical context and to cities in other parts of the contemporary world. A holistic view of the contemporary metropolis is emphasized and the course aims to offer critical insights as well as practical examples. Special attention is given to the ethical, practical and intellectual dilemmas raised by the transformations in urban society, economy and politics. Prerequisite: an undergraduate degree in one of the urban studies base disciplines (anthropology, economics, geography, planning, political science, sociology) or equivalent professional training and experience in an urban field.

URB 601-4 Urban Problems and Solutions

This is an applied course which will provide local applications of the themes developed in URB 600. It will be built around various applied urban courses in the Continuing Studies City Program. The exact format and focus will depend on programming in the City Program but typically will involve an integrative approach to a variety of urban issues and problems of interest in cities such as Vancouver. Prerequisite: an undergraduate degree in one of the urban studies base disciplines (anthropology, economics, geography, planning, political science, sociology) or equivalent professional training and experience in an urban field, and URB 600.

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Index : searchable with the Find function in your web browser Calendar.pdfs Office of the Registrar / SFU
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