Back to University Catalog 2004-2005

Geography                    College Natural and Behavioral Sciences      Department of Earth Sciences and Geography

Bachelor of Arts






Brendan McNulty, Department Chair

Rodrick A. Hay,  John Keyantash, Ralph H. Saunders, David R. Sigurdson, Jamie L. Webb



Virginia Knauss, Department Secretary


Department Office:  NSM B-202, (310) 243-3377


Program Description

Knowledge of the Earth's physical systems, and human's interaction and alteration of those, is key to society's ability to sustain growth and development, and at the same time maintain the quality of life that the world's nations desire.  In recent years people have discovered that large numbers of societal problems have geographic dimensions and that education and training in geography provide essential skills for real world problem solving.  As a result, geography has become a necessary ingredient in hundreds of different jobs, in both government and industry, and at the local, regional, national, and international levels.

The Geography program, which is housed in the Earth Sciences Department, concentrates on the physical aspects of geography (atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere), computer-based geotechniques such as remote sensing, geographic information systems and cartography, and the study of the different regions of the world.  The expertise and international focus of the faculty provide opportunities for students to learn about and participate in research projects ranging from mapping disruption in Mojave Desert to analyzing farming systems in Egypt, the Sudan, and other African and Asian countries.



The Earth Sciences Department has a map library containing several thousand map sheets.  The department also has two completely dedicated, state-of-the-art computer laboratories, the Earth Sciences Spatial Analysis Laboratory (ESSAL) which acts as the focus for remote sensing and GIS based research projects, and the Dominguez Hills Information Technology Laboratory (DoIT)) which provides for computer-based teaching with an emphasis on geotechniques.  These labs provide sophisticated image processing and spatial analysis software as well as libraries of satellite imagery and spatial databases.  Additional equipment includes several Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, advanced instruments for field data collection and analysis, and a weather station which collects meteorological data for the campus.

The faculty possess special expertise in land use, land use change, remote sensing, geographic information systems, physical geography, and arid lands, which allows them to participate in both domestic and international projects.  The small size and broad expertise of the faculty provides an unusual opportunity for undergraduate students to work closely with their professors.  The involvement of faculty members in applied situations, in community and advisory capacities and in professional consultation, provides an excellent opportunity for advanced students to participate in ongoing research projects.


Academic Advisement

Each student intending to pursue a major or minor program in geography should consult with a department advisor concerning academic or career goals before registering for their first Geography course.  The department chair will assist students in selecting an advisor, or a student may select an advisor from the full- time geography faculty.  Students are strongly encouraged to meet with their academic advisor at least once each semester  to seek help in selection of courses appropriate to the student’s goals.  Advisors also can provide help in finding and using other university services that may facilitate his/her studies.



For high school students, the best preparation for the Geography Major is a well-rounded program of high school courses in humanities, social sciences, science, mathematics, and written and oral communication skills.  This background should prepare students
in both analytical and integrative skills.

Community college transfer students should have completed
an introductory physical and a human/cultural geography course.  Introductory courses in the physical, biological and social sciences are recommended.


Career Possibilities

The Geography Major is specifically designed to prepare students for a wide range of employment opportunities and graduate programs.  Several major publications have identified geographic information systems (GIS) related jobs as one of the top ten high-tech employment areas in the next decade.  The department offers
a Geotechniques certificate program that provides students with the analytical and computer skills to compete successfully in the job market.  The certificate program requires specific classes in GIS, remote sensing, cartography and environmental analysis as part of either a Geography major or minor.  Career opportunities exist in such applied areas as:  meteorology, climatology and hydrology, environmental planning, energy management and distribution; urban and regional planning, economic location, urban and regional planning, teaching and academic research.

Students may prepare for a career in teaching Social Science at
the secondary level (junior high or high school) by completing an approved "Subject Matter Preparation Program."  Completion of such a program is the first step in meeting the state requirements for a teaching credential.  As the program requirements for the "Subject Matter Preparation Program" in Social Science have changed recently, interested students should consult the departmentally designated advisor for current information.


Graduation With Honors

An undergraduate student may be a candidate for graduation with Honors in Geography provided he or she meets the following criteria:

1.   A minimum of 36 units in residence at CSU Dominguez Hills;

2.   A minimum grade point average of at least 3.5 in all courses used to satisfy the upper division requirements in the major;

3.   Recommendation by the faculty of the Earth Sciences Department.



Bachelor of Arts in Geography

Total Course Requirements for the Bachelor's Degree

See the "Requirements for the Bachelor's Degree" in the University Catalog for complete details on general degree requirements.  A minimum of 40 units, including those required for the major, must be upper division. 


Elective Requirements

Completion of elective courses (beyond the requirements listed below) to reach a total of a minimum of 120 units.


General Education Requirements (54-60 units)

See the "General Education" requirements in the University Catalog or the Class Schedule for the most current information on General Education requirements and course offerings.

United States History, Constitution                                  and American Ideals Requirement (6 units)

See the "United States History, Constitution, and American Ideals" requirements in the University Catalog.  Courses used to satisfy this requirement do not apply to General Education.


Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement

See the "Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement" in the University Catalog.


Minor Requirements

Student completing this major will need to complete a minor in another field.


Major Requirements (34 units)

The following courses (or for lower division courses, their approved transfer equivalents) are required for all candidates for this degree:

A.  Required Courses (19 units)

1.   Lower Division Required Courses (6 units)

GEO 100.        Human Geography (3)

GEO 200.        Physical Geography (3)

2.   Upper Division Required Courses (13 units)

GEO 310.        Geomorphology (3)

GEO 360.        North America (3)

GEO 370.        Numerical Methods in Geography (3)

GEO 415.        Geographic Information Systems (3)

EAR 490.        Senior Seminar in Earth Sciences (1)


B.  Physical Geography and Human Geography Tracks (15 units)

In addition to the general requirements listed above for a major in Geography, students will choose five upper division courses (15 units) from one of the department's two major tracks - Physical Geography and Human Geography.  In consultation with an advisor from Geography, majors may also put together an individualized program that draws on courses from both elective tracks.

1.   Physical Geography Track (15 units)

      Select 5 electives in any combination across two groupings below

a.   Physical and Environmental Geography

GEO 315.        Meteorology (3)

GEO 412.        Hydrology (3)

GEO 416.        Climatology (3)

GEO 420.        Natural Resources (3)

GEO 433.        Environmental Analysis and Planning (3)

b.   Geotechniques

GEO 305.        Cartography (3)

GEO 408.        Aerial Photography and Remote Sensing Data (3)

GEO 495.        Special Topics in Geography (3)

EAR 376.        Field Methods of Mapping (3)

2.   Human Geography Track (15 units):

a.   Required Courses (6 units)

GEO 350.        World Geography (3)

GEO 357.        Metropolitan Los Angeles (3)

b.   Electives. Select any 3 courses from the list below (9 units):

AFS 423.        Africana Leaders (3)

AFS 424.        Africana Political Thought (3)

ANT 313.       Methods and Techniques in Archaeology (3)

ANT 335.       Comparative Cultures (3)

APP 301.        Asian-Pacific Populations in Contemporary American Society (3)

CHS 300.        Introduction to Chicana/Chicano Studies (3)

GEO 305.        Cartography (3)

GEO 359.        Geography of California (3)

GEO 495.        Special Topics in Geography (3)



1.   A number of other courses, including History courses, may also be used to satisfy the elective requirements for the Human Geography major track.  These courses are especially relevant to students wishing to develop expertise in a particular region such as Africa, Latin America or the United States.

2.   The Physical Geography major track may accept courses from other programs (e.g., Geology) to satisfy elective requirements.  Students should consult with a Geography advisor in order to determine which courses might be appropriate to their specific interests.

3.   Majors are encouraged to enroll in 3 units of Independent Study (GEO 494) or Directed Research (GEO 498).


Minor in Geography (18 units)

To meet this requirement, the student must complete the lower division courses listed below.  Where appropriate, these courses may be used to meet the General Studies or major requirement.


A.  Lower Division Required Courses (6 units)

GEO 100.      Human Geography (3)

GEO 200.      Physical Geography (3)


B.  Upper Division Requirements:  Select 12 units of upper division Geography courses.


Certificate Program in Geotechniques (12 units)

The Geotechniques certificate is designed to prepare students for public and private sector employment involving the collection, input, processing, and analysis of spatial databases for research and management purposes.  To qualify for the certificate, candidates must demonstrate their competence in the use of remote sensing and geographic information systems technologies and their application to problem solving.  Students majoring or minoring in Geography may complete the certificate requirements by taking the appropriate courses as part of their regular programs.

Select 12 units from the following courses:

GEO 305.      Cartography (3)

GEO 370.      Numerical Methods in Geography (3)

GEO 408.      Aerial Photographs and Remote Sensing (3)

GEO 415.      Geographic Information Systems (3)

GEO 433.      Environmental Analysis (3)

GEO 495.      Special Topics in Geography (3)


Course Offerings

Lower Division

The credit value for each course in semester units is indicated for each term by a number in parentheses following the title.  Departments may indicate the term in which they expect to offer the course by
the use of:  “F” (fall), “S” (spring) or “EOY” (every other year).


GEO 100   Human Geography (3) FS.

Cultural, physical, and biological earth systems.  Emphasizes human geography and adaptation to physical habitats. 

GEO 200   Physical Geography (3).

Classical natural systems, including earth-sun relationships, atmospheric flows, terrestrial biogeography, landforms, and processes of change; introduction to modern monitoring methods using maps, satellite reconnaissance, and geographic information systems.


Upper Division

GEO 305   Cartography (3) F-EOY.

Principles, techniques, design and production of maps and graphs for data presentation. One hour of lecture and six hours of lab per week.

GEO 310   Geomorphology (3) S.

Study of landforms created by geologic, volcanic, weathering, fluvial, Karst coastal   and other processes acting on the land surface and ocean floor. 

GEO 315   Meteorology (3) F.

Composition, structure, general circulation, and storms of all latitudes.  Clouds, rain, visibility, winds, and other meteorological observations and micrometeorological observations.

GEO 350   World Geography (3) S-EOY.

Study of ten world regions: population distribution, landforms and natural resources urban and non-urban relationships, connections of trade and transportation, plus selected case studies involving water resources, boundaries and environmental impacts.

GEO 357   Metropolitan Los Angeles (3) EOY

Exploration and analysis of the geography of Metropolitan Los Angeles with emphasis on the acquisition of urban geographical research methods including filed mapping, ethnography and GIS.  Focus on issues relevant to migration, community development, policing and urban ecology.

GEO 359   Geography of
California (3) S-EOY.

The physical, cultural and regional geography of California. The land and its modifications. Spatial distribution of resources.  Population, migration and urbanization.  Problems and prospects. 

GEO 360   North America (3) FS.

Physical, regional and cultural geography  of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central American and Caribbean states.  Emphasizes human-environment interaction; contemporary patterns of population distribution, resource exploitation, transportation, agricultural and industrial production.  Historical diffusion and contemporary regional specialization.

GEO 370   Numerical Methods in Geography (3) EOY.

Prerequisites: CSC 101 and MAT 009 (or equivalents).

Principles of data reduction and analysis in the natural sciences.  Practical techniques to understand spatial data sets using computer software.  Topics include matrices, summary statistics, distributions, transformations, hypothesis testing, contouring, regression and curve-fitting.

GEO 405   Advanced Cartography                         (3) F-EOY. 

Prerequisite: GEO 305 or equivalent is                     recommended.

Planning and preparing maps, graphics, photographs, and models.  One hour lecture and six hours of lab per week.

GEO 408   Aerial Photographs and Remote Sensing Data (3) F-EOY. 

Interpretation of physical and cultural features, resources, environmental factors from photographic and specific sensor imagery.  One hour of lecture and four hours of activity per week.

GEO 412   Hydrology (3) S-EOY.

Detailed study of the hydrologic cycle: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, runoff, infiltration and groundwater. 

GEO 415  Geographic Information Systems (3).  S-EOY

Prerequisites:  Basic computer knowledge, CSC 101 or equivalent. 

Techniques of data acquisition, processing, analysis and display as pertains to geographic information systems.  Includes practical applications based on various forms of geographically referenced data.  Two hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory per week.

GEO 416   Climatology (3) S-EOY. 

Prerequisite:  GEO 315 is recommended.

Climate and climatic classification. Relationships of climate to meteorology, ecology, diet, housing, transportation, agriculture, industrialization and natural resources. 

GEO 420   Natural Resources (3) S-EOY.

Atmospheric, hydrologic, ecologic and geologic principles; economic and environmental considerations in air, water, soil, food, timber, wildlife, nonmetallic and metallic resources. 

GEO 433   Environmental Analysis
and Planning (3) F-EOY.

Federal and State requirements, required inputs, presentation formats, procedures for review and acceptance of environmental reports.  Methods of assessing air quality, noise, water pollution and traffic problems. 

GEO 494   Independent Study  (1-3) FS.

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. 

Independent Study of a particular geographic or environmental problem under the supervision of a member of the Geography staff.

GEO 495   Special Topics
in Geography (3). 

Selected topics in Geography with course content to be determined by instructor. Repeatable course. 

GEO 498   Directed Research  (1-3) FS.

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. 

Directed research of a particular geographic or environmental problem under the direction of a member of the Geography staff.


Infrequently Offered Courses

The following courses are scheduled on
a "demand" basis.  Students should consult the department office for information about the next schedule offering.

GEO 336   Land Use (3) F-EOY.

Sequential, compatible, and conflicting land uses.  Zoning and regulation.  Impacts of public and private uses.  Social and economic benefits from alternative land use.

GEO 346   Political Geography (3) S-EOY.

The characteristics, patterns, and interactions of contemporary political processes and organizations over the world.  Cohesion, unity, disunity, growth and historical persistence from the locality, through nations and transnational groupings to the  world.