We are often asked to suggest reading materials. The following reading list was compiled by lecturers in the School of Geography, which you may find interesting and informative, but there is no pre-requisite reading that needs to be done.
There are excellent online resources that introduce many topics relevant to our courses available via the National Geographic, Royal Geographical Society and British Society for Geomorphology. The CarbonBrief website has a range of excellent pieces on the current trajectory of climate change and shifts in energy use. If you are interested in using maths to solve scientific problems, we recommend The US Public Broadcasting Service’s The Great Math Mystery and BBC’s Magic Numbers Mysterious World of Maths with Hannah Fry.
Our research actively informs our teaching programme and you can follow these links to find out about our current work studying the glaciers of the Hindu Kush Himalaya, how hydropower schemes influence riverflow, our work on natural flood management or the role that tropical forests play in the global carbon cycle and whether they can handle rising temperatures.
2020 has been dominated, of course, by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Royal Geographical Society has produced resources to signpost you to some of the latest information. More broadly though, the root of the current crisis is ecological: the intrusion of an expanding human population into the deepest corners of the natural world. The relationships between people and nature is a theme that is deeply embedded in our courses, from our teaching on ecological principles and environmental management to our final year course on the concept of wilderness and practical examples of rewilding. Organisations such as the Wildlife Conservation Society are campaigning to change policies to protect both biodiversity and people.
The current crisis has also illustrated the importance of clearly communicating scientific concepts and the crucial role data visualisation to understand what is going on. The skills threads of our teaching in our undergraduate programmes will teach you software and skills that you need to present engaging messages using data. You might be surprised to find out how much of data visualisation is about having an eye for design and the message you want to tell, rather than coding or mathematical skills.
The COVID-19 pandemic is also of course occurring in the shadows of the climate crisis and fascinating analysis of the impact of lockdown on global carbon emissions is emerging. Understanding how the global carbon cycle has been modified by human activity, and how we can adapt to and mitigate future climate change are key themes of your course. There is already plenty of discussion of how to make sure that recovery embeds green principles, and lock in the contribution that renewable sources have been making to energy demand.
- Bryson, B. (2004, or later editions) A Short History of Nearly Everything, Black Swan. “The title says it all: a tour of all the big questions that are important for understanding and managing our planet today. We touch on many of these issues throughout our curriculum, from understanding the geological processes that modify the world today, to mitigating climate change.”
- Beerling, D. (2017) The Emerald Planet: How plants changed Earth's history, Oxford University Press. “This book provides a captivating account of how plants have driven changes in climate for millions of years. We actively research how the terrestrial biosphere modifies the rate of climate change today and teach these ideas in our courses on ecosystems and biogeochemical cycling.”
- Flannery, T. (2007) The Weather Makers: Our Changing Climate and what it means for Life on Earth, Penguin Books. “This book tells the dramatic story of how earth’s climate has changed in the past and the extraordinary methods and scientific techniques used to reconstruct past climate, and what this means for the future. Climate change is of high relevance to all, and the story told here of the Earth’s climatic changes through time and the theory of climate change forms an important part of our curriculum.”
- DK (multiple authors) (2019) The Maths Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained, DK. “This book provides an accessible journey through the history of maths and its uses and applications.”
- Wignall, P.B. (2019) Extinction. A very short introduction and Lenton, T. (2016) Earth system science. A very short introduction, both published by Oxford University Press. “Accessible and comprehensive introductions to key topics within our BSc Geography and Geology curriculum.”
- Scorse, J. (2010) What environmentalists need to know about economics, Palmgrave McMillan. “An easy to read, non-technical introduction to the economic roots of environmental problems, relevant to modules on sustainable management throughout our course.”