UC Santa Barbara Geography / Courses / Undergraduate Courses
Introduction to the oceans and atmosphere and their role in the Earth’s climate and its weather patterns. Focus on the flows of solar energy through the ocean and atmosphere systems. Human impacts of the Earth’s climate are also introduced. (Fall, Winter)
Study of the interactions among water, landforms, soil, and vegetation that create and modify the surface of the Earth. Impacts of physical environment on human societies and humans as agents of environmental change. (Winter, Spring)
Survey of spatial differentiation and organization of human activity and interaction with the Earth’s biophysical systems. Sample topics include human spatial decision-making behavior, migration, population growth, economic development, industrial location, urbanization, and human impacts on the natural environment.
Oil and water are two key strategic resources dominating the international scene. This class provides an overview of global distribution of oil and water resources and analyzes some of the social, economic, and geopolitical ramifications of these distributions.
Overview of global warming and climate change processes. Description of complex relationships between scientific, technological, economic, social, political, and historical facets of global warming and climate change. Introduction to the concept and practice of climate modeling.
Surveys properties of maps, emphasizing map use and interpretation. Lecture topics include map abstraction, generalization, map projections, and symbolization. Special purpose maps, thematic maps, and the display of quantitative and qualitative information is considered.
Social and physical science concepts manifested in the sport of surfing. Topics include wave generation and forecasting, economics of the surf industry, spatial search, strategic behavior under crowding, territorialism, and the generation/diffusion of regional surf cultures.
Field study methods from physical, human, and regional geography applied to surfing. Physical methods focus on coastal engineering: hydrographic surveys, wave measurement, etc. Human methods include spatial population distribution, attitude surveys, etc. Project or term paper, and presentation required.
Geographic curriculum content that lies outside regularly scheduled courses. New classes under development or taught temporarily. Course number-letter combination reflects instructor. Content varies.
Provides introductory directed inquiry into a topic of interest to the student.
Independent geographical research conducted under the guidance of Geography faculty. Topic and scope varies, to be specified by student and supervisory faculty member prior to registration.
Introduction to transportation problems, involving energy, the environment, congestion, infrastructure, and future trends. Historical perspective on transportation innovations and their impacts on urban form. Reviews current problems, including the movement of freight and the development of transit-oriented neighborhoods.
Basic physical principles of electromagnetic radiation in the environment and their application to physical geography and remote sensing. Radiative transfer in atmosphere, oceans, snow and ice, inland waters, rock, soil, and vegetation. Spectral signatures in remote sensing.
Introduction to the processes which control the circulation of the world’s oceans. Topics include: wind driven circulation, thermohaline circulation, water masses, waves, and tides.
Introduction to the study of the economic geography of cities and regions and its relation to planning: urbanization, internal structure of cities, settlement systems, regional growth and development, migration, transportation, housing.
Introduction to the study of spatial economic theories with applications at the urban, regional, and global scales. Topics include settlement system dynamics and regional development, land economics and land use policies, and regional inequality and poverty.
An introduction to the dynamics of the earth’s atmosphere. Topics include: energy exchange mechanisms, energy balance, condensation and precipitation processes, the dynamics of pressure and wind systems, and the distributions of weather disturbances.
Issues, problems, technologies, policies, plans, programs, and the transportation-environment relationship. Transportation systems simulation, trip-based and activity data collection and modeling. Applications in planning, design and operations. Lab: Critically examine transportation plans and programs; explore and analyze travel surveys.
Multilevel data in time use, activity, and travel surveys. Revealed and stated choice data collection in laboratory/field studies. Regression models. Systems simulation. Applications in policy analysis and traffic operations. Lab: Data analysis to develop models for typical regional simulations. (Winter, Spring)
Analysis of the water cycle with emphasis on land-atmosphere interactions, precipitation-runoff, flood, snowmelt, and infiltration processes.
Introduction to the chemical, hydrological, and biological characteristics of soils, their global distribution, and response to management. Field and laboratory projects provide an understanding of soil-landscape distribution, soil morphology, and the physical and chemical properties that influence management decisions.
Introduction to chemical, physical, and biological processes that produce soil and influence their management. Soil morphology, genesis, classification, and global distribution emphasized. Labs cover field site selection, soil description, sampling, laboratory preparation of samples and selected chemical and physical analyses.
Introduction to physical and cultural geographic phenomena as recorded by airborne and satellite remote sensing systems, with emphasis on photo interpretation skills. Lab involves analysis of current and historical aerial photographs and satellite images in hard copy and digital formats.
Acquisition and nature of satellite imagery and tools required to process data from remote sensing systems. Topics include spectral and spatial enhancement, image classification, geometric and radiometric correction, with emphasis on applications. Lab: Computer analysis of Landsat and SPOT data.
Examines information extraction and radiative transfer relevant to remote sensing, focusing on applications for environmental monitoring and natural resource management. Lab exercises develop skills for advanced processing of satellite data, including linear transforms, image correction, and change detection.
Analysis of groundwater flow in complex geologic environments, aquifer properties, wells and groundwater contamination, surface water-groundwater interactions. Laboratory: basic groundwater experiments, Darcy’s Law, flow nets, solute dispersion, field measurements of bedrock groundwater analysis of pumping-test data.
Introduction to scientific research methods in human, physical, and techniques geography. Topics include: scientific logic and philosophy, physical measurement, surveys, experimental and nonexperimental research designs, computational modeling, sampling, data analysis and display, written and oral communication, and research ethics.
Mechanisms and processes which produce climate change. Methods for reconstructing paleo-climates. Impacts of past climate change on human societies.
The growth of geodesy, printing, and technology; exploration of the earth and near planets; topographic surveys and photogrammetry; LANDSAT; relation of contemporary thematic cartography to statistics and graphic science.
Using computers to create and analyze maps. Coding, storing and representing geographical data. Accessing spatial data over the internet. Map data structures and transformations. Design and programming issues in map production.
Description of tropical atmosphere. High and low frequency variability: hurricanes, monsoon, El Niño, satellite observations, and modeling.
Description of various components of earth system: climate and hydrologic systems, biogeochemical dynamics, ecological dynamics, human interactions, and global change with an emphasis on the climate components. Observations and modeling of earth system.
A mock summit in which students act as representatives of different countries participating in environmental treaty negotiations. Students work in teams of four or five to prepare a presentation and discussion of environmental issues of concern (energy, greenhouse gasses, etc.).
Mock summit in which students act as representatives of different countries participating in environmental treaty negotiations. This three-week course immerses students in the topic of global change and its associated policies, mimicking pressures and intensity at real environmental summits. (Summer)
Basic quantitative understanding of processes shaping the Earth's surface. In-depth evaluations of hill slope diffusion, mass wasting, and fluvial processes. Applications of quantitative methods are emphasized throughout the class. Laboratory provides an understanding of isotopic, physical, and remote sensing dataset. (Fall)
Interactions between human history and the environment are explored. Example topics include early Earth history, long term climate change, the origin of agriculture, short term climate change, the origin of importance of disease and invasive species.
Various geographic dimensions of human population dynamics: fertility, mortality, and migration. The concepts and language of demography are introduced. The causes and consequences of population dynamics are investigated, including links among population, environment, and development.
A survey of global and regional of demographic change and their connection to significant economic development issues. Basic methods demographic analysis are introduced study historical and current issues population and development.
Introduces methods of demographic analysis used in local/regional policy analysis and planning. Course modules focus on population policy issues in California; such as, immigration, K-12 enrollment planning, affordable housing/land preservation, and planning for an elderly population.
Basic understanding of fluvial (river) hydrology. In-depth evaluation of channel form and fluvial processes and impact of human use on rivers.
The unique landscapes of California and the physical, cultural, and biotic processes which have produced them.
Discussion of biological, geological, ecological, anthropological, and oceanographic characteristics of the Channel Islands area as well as the management and human uses of this region. Emphasis on islands and ocean waters off Southern California.
Intensive study of the physical and cultural processes that have shaped and are shaping the landscapes of the United States.
Examines aspects of the human-environment interface, emphasizing behavioral processes in spatial contexts including spatial choice and decision making, consumer behavior, migration and other episodic movements, time budgets, spatial cognition, and cognitive mapping.
Research and theory on human perception and cognition of environments. Topics include spatial perception, spatial learning, knowledge structures, navigation and wayfinding, language and spatial cognition, map use, the spatial skills of special populations, and other issues.
Applications of spatial decision-making and behavior to retail systems: site selection, site evaluation, trade area estimation, spatial dimensions of retailing, and bricks vs. clicks retailing.
El Pueblo, a vila, li tenamit: however you call where you live, geography matters. How and why are human and physical patterns inscribed where they are on the Latin American landscape?
Introduction to the marine resources of the California coast. The interplay of oceanographic, climatic, biogeochemical and geologic factors and the influences of humankind will be addressed. Topics include: climate, circulation, biogeography, fisheries, marine mammals, petroleum, pollution and exploration history.
A systematic approach to the study of the human and physical resources of Europe. Special emphasis placed on the spatial aspects of urban, economic, and social processes.
Evolution, current status, and alternative futures of agriculture, food and population worldwide. Achieving environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable food systems; soil, water, crops, energy and labor; diversity, stability and ecosystems management; farmer and scientist knowledge and collaboration; common property management.
Study of the physio-chemical and biological characteristics of natural waters, analysis of water pollution and treatment, water-quality regulations. Laboratory: independent and supervised research on water pollutants and water treatment, quantitative analysis of water-quality data and one-day field work.
Examination of the general circulation of the oceans and its impact on global climate and climate change. Topics include properties of seawater, forces driving ocean currents, wind and buoyancy generation of basin scale circulations, and their impact on global climate.
Examination of waves and tides in the ocean. Topics include surface waves, wave generation, internal waves, tides, and tide raising forces. Measurement techniques are also discussed. (Spring)
Basic processes governing geographic distribution patterns of biota, including migration, evolution, isolation, and endemism. Biogeographic regions and their histories and an introduction to island biogeography. Emphasis on plants and plant geography. One all-day field trip.
Intensive field and laboratory course on ecological and biogeographical phenomena, including plant and soil processes, and microclimates. Course utilizes UC Natural Reserve sites. Field measurements are taught, including vegetation and soil sampling, dendrochronology, ecophysiology, and basic micrometeorology.
The evolution of food plants from domestication to genetic engineering. Patterns of diversity around the world in small-scale, traditionally- based and industrial communities. Class participation in project on local olive diversity includes field work.
Social, cultural, ethical, biological, and environmental issues surrounding biotechnology (BT) and food systems. Includes theory and method of BT; scientific, social, and political control of BT; effect of BT on genetic diversity, small-scale farmers, environment, food supply, consumer health.
Biological, ecological, social, and economic principles of small-scale food production and their practical applications. Includes each student cultivating a garden plot; lab exercises, field trips to local farms and gardens.
Statistical analysis of geographical data. Topics include spatial auto-correlation, multiple regression in spatial context, and introductory methods for analyzing point, area (lattice), and continuous spatial data. Lab includes the use of statistical software for analyzing various spatial data types.
Introduction to measurement and interpretation of physical-environmental data (temperature, humidity, precipitation) and integrated environmental measures (e.g. potential evapotranspiration). Working with micrometeorological towers deployed across an environmental gradient, students develop and test hypothesis using real-time tower data.
Comprehensive overview of Geographic Information Systems and Science. Topics include geographic data collection, modeling, and representation; geographic databases; cartographic issues; spatial queries; mobile GIS and GI Services; cognitive and social aspects. Labs provide hands-on experience with GIS software.
Study of the technical issues underlying Geographic Information Systems, including coordinate systems and analytic geometry, database models and structures, algorithms and analytical procedures.
Applying GIS theory and techniques to solve problems in land and resource management, utilities, and municipal government. Covers all stages of a GIS project: planning, design, analysis, and presentation. Students collaborate to design, develop, and present a GIS pilot study.
Examination of urban, regional, and global trends in human activity and interaction caused by the spread of electronic technologies. Topics include land-use change, telecommuting, the “virtual geographies” of the Internet, issues of democracy and power, planning in the information age.
Introduction to GIScience as an academic research field, conducted through review, discussion, and presentation of seminal works from leading journals. Labs reinforce and develop students’ existing techniques on problems of research-level difficulty in spatial analysis, cognition, and mobile GIS. (Winter)
Builds on previous course through in-depth examination of topics chosen by interests of leading professor. Labs emphasize development of advanced spatial analytical skills, cutting edge visualization techniques and spatio-temporal modeling. Course concludes with an individual GIScience project. (Spring)
Study of the economic, social, and political networks that link together cities of global importance. Specializations and roles of global cities in the information age economy. Examination of individual cities at the top tiers of the global urban hierarchy.
Technical introduction to graphic representation and visualization of geographic information. Lectures cover static and dynamic design aspects, thematic mapping, interface design, animation, and 3D. Labs provide experience designing thematic maps and constructing basic GeoVis tools with current software.
Introduces the student to cartographic programming principles. Instruction will emphasize structured decomposition, device independence and reusability in cartographic software. Lab work will provide students with hands-on experience with implementing a reusable cartographic library.
Relevance of geographic knowledge and skills to aspects of planning and policy making. Includes review of core concepts in decision making, planning theory, systems analysis, information systems, urban and regional modeling, forecasting, impact analysis, implementation of decisions, planning policies.
Introduction to decision making techniques with regard to land use allocation and planning. Emphasizes addressing conflicts involving environmental concerns and multiple objectives. Examples include water resources development, corridor location (rights-of-way), preservation of endangered species, and power plant siting.
Introduces methods of economic analysis used in local/regional policy analysis and planning. Course modules focus on planning and policy issues in California related to interregional income inequality, industry structure/competitiveness, and regional occupational labor markets.
Applications of operations research techniques and decision analysis in structuring approaches to urban and environmental problems. Examples are drawn from problems in facility location, regional models, transportation and other networks, utility corridors and similar problems.
Survey of basic types of location problems in the modern world, techniques used by government and industry to solve such problems. Relationships to classic location theory and models are stressed. Students will experiment with actual location models on a computer.
Introduction to “Operations Research” methods that are used in the analysis of geographic problems, including linear programming, network programming, integer programming, and dynamic programming. Example problems involving spatial temporal decision making are emphasized. (Winter)
Computer laboratory utilizing special optimization programs and computer graphics devices.
Practical experience and research on geographical problems under faculty direction as interns with local, state, and federal agencies, with private research and development firms, and with other business organizations. Periodic and final reports required.
Field-based investigation of geographic characteristics of specific places and regions. Human and/or physical phenomena may be emphasized. Field trips may include visiting parks, industrial sites, government facilities, wildlands, or urban areas. Scope, emphasis, and requirement subject to change.
Geographic curriculum content that lies outside regularly scheduled courses. New classes under development or taught temporarily. Course number-letter combination reflects instructor. Content varies.
Designed to provide in-depth directed inquiry into a topic of interest to the student.
Independent geographical research conducted under the guidance of Geography faculty. Topic and scope varies, as specified by student and supervisory faculty member prior to registration.
Selected research under the direction of a faculty member.