A Tentative Syllabus for

GEO 325
Department of Geosciences
Winter - 2002

Image from Geography Mining Company
Photographer: John Oswalt
The materials in this syllabus are intended as a complete statement of the course outline, objectives, grading procedures, assignments, and schedule. Since it is prepared in advance of the school term, changes may be announced in class which supersede materials in the Syllabus. It is the responsibility of the student to attend all regularly scheduled classes so absence from class is not an acceptable excuse for ignorance of announced changes.



Stock, Robert, Africa South of the Sahara, 1995, The Guilford Press.

Assignments and Grading Procedures


To satisfactorily complete this course, each student must do the following:
  1. Read assigned material on time and participate in class discussions when appropriate.
  2. Complete two written assignments on time and share the content of these assignments in class discussions. Students can select the two assignments from four possibilities given in this syllabus. Note that Exercises 3 and 4 are due on the same day.
  3. Complete the place name quiz on time.
  4. Take the mid-term and final examinations at the scheduled times.
  5. Attend every class and submit written questions as requested at the appropriate time during selected class periods. These questions will be used to direct class discussions and to provide a check on readings and attendance.

Assignments are due at class time on the due date listed in this syllabus. The instructor's policy is to award reduced grades on late papers. Papers will be reduced one letter grade for each late day past the assigned date.

Examinations are given on scheduled days. Students with unanticipated absences from the examinations should contact the instructor, or teaching assistant immediately by phone or E-mail. Make-up examinations are mostly essays and are intended to assist only those with unavoidable absences on the examination day.

Course Grading:

The instructor and/or teaching assistant will evaluate the quality of work on each of the above assignments. The course grade will be determined according to the following schedule of values:

Informed class participation* 10%*
Two written assignments40%
Place name quiz10%
Mid-term examination20%
Final examination20%

*Instructor's discretion, but will include measures of attendance and the quality of in-class written questions.

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7 Introduction to course and Africa. 1-55
9 Africa overview.
11 Africa overview.
14 Africa overview.

The spatial impress in historical perspective.

23 The spatial impress in historicalperspective.
25 The spatial impress in historicalperspective.
28 Discussion of explorers exercise.
30 The peopling of Africa.
1 The peopling of Africa.
4 The peopling of Africa.
8 The resources of Africa. 277-321
11 The resources of Africa.
13 The resources of Africa.
15 The economies of Africa. 145-234
18 The economies of Africa.
20 Discussion of new map exercises.
22 The economies of Africa.
25 The economies of Africa.
27 The social geography of Africa. 235-276
1 The social geography of Africa.
4 The social geography of Africa.
6 African political geography in a global perspective. 323-416
8 African political geography in a global perspective.
11 African political geography in a global perspective.
13 Open

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Africa is a new place of study for most of us. Therefore, we are unlikely to be familiar with many of its place names. To get the most out of the course lectures, students are well advised to learn the following place names and locations within the first weeks of the term. A quiz on this material will be given on the fifth class day. The locations can be found in most general atlases. The National Geographic Atlas is especially good and can be found in the maps and atlas area on the 3rd floor of the library. For the most recent country names (some change regularly), check out the CIA Factbook maps. Another more comprehensive and interactive source of maps and place names is provided by the National Geographic Society.


  1. Atlas Mountains
  2. Ahaggar Mountains
  3. Tibesti Massif
  4. Ethiopian Highlands
  5. Adamawa Highlands
  6. Mt. Kenya
  7. Mt. Kilimanjaro
  8. Mt. Cameroon
  9. Drakensberg
  10. Ruwenzori

Other Features

  1. Sahara Desert
  2. Namib Desert
  3. Kalahari Desert
  4. Ogaden
  5. Cape of Good Hope
  6. The Horn of Africa (This is the part protruding into the Indian Ocean at Somalia.)


  1. Tana
  2. Victoria
  3. Tanganyika
  4. Malawi (Nyasa)
  5. Volta*
  6. Nasser*
  7. Kariba*
  8. Chad
  9. Mobutu (Albert)
  10. Turkana (Rudolf)
  11. Cabora Bassa*
*These are reservoirs formed by the damming of rivers.


  1. Niger
    1. Nile
    2. White Nile
    3. Blue Nile
  2. Gambia
  3. Zambezi
  4. Zaire (Congo)
  5. Ubangi
  6. Kasai
  7. Orange
  8. Okavango (Cubango)
  9. Volta
  10. Limpopo
  11. Chari (Share)
  12. Senegal

Salt Water Features

  1. Red Sea
  2. Gulf of Suez
  3. Suez Canal
  4. Str. of Gibraltar
  5. Mediterranean Sea
  6. Bight of Benin
  7. Indian Ocean
  8. Mozambique Channel
  9. Gulf of Aden
  10. Gulf of Guinea


  1. Algeria
  2. Angola (Note separate part called Cabinda)
  3. Benin
  4. Botswana
  5. Burkina Faso (Burkina, Upper Volta)
  6. Burundi
  7. Cameroon
  8. Camoros
  9. Cape Verde
  10. Central African Republic
  11. Chad
  12. Congo (Brazzaville) (Peoples Republic)
  13. Congo (Kinshasha-Democratic Republic-changed from Zaire in 1997
  14. Djibouti
  15. Egypt
  16. Equatorial Guinea (In two parts - Rio Muni (mainland portion) & a set of islands with the biggest being Bioko)
  17. Eritrea (Note: Formally separated from Ethiopia in 1993)
  18. Ethiopia
  19. Gambia
  20. Gabon
  21. Ghana
  22. Guinea - Bissau
  23. Guinea - Conakry
  24. Ivory Coast
  25. Kenya
  26. Lesotho
  27. Liberia
  28. Libya
  29. Madagascar (Malagasy Republic)
  30. Malawi
  31. Mali
  32. Mauritania
  33. Mauritius
  34. Morocco
  35. Mozambique
  36. Namibia (Southwest Africa)
  37. Nigeria
  38. Niger
  39. Rwanda
  40. Senegal
  41. Sierra Leone
  42. Somali Republic (Somalia)
  43. South Africa
  44. Sudan
  45. Swaziland
  46. Tanzania (Includes Zanzibar)
  47. Togo
  48. Tunisia
  49. Uganda
  50. Western Sahara (Status in dispute)
  51. Zambia
  52. Zimbabwe


  1. Abidjan, Ivory Coast
  2. Accra, Ghana
  3. Addis Ababa , Ethiopia
  4. Antananarivo, Malagasy Republic (Madagascar)
  5. Asmara, Eritria
  6. Brazzaville, Congo (Peoples Republic)
  7. Capetown, South Africa
  8. Cairo, Egypt
  9. Conakry, Guinea
  10. Dakar, Senegal
  11. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  12. Douala, Cameroon
  13. Durban, South Africa
  14. Harare, Zimbabwe
  15. Ibadan, Nigeria
  16. Johannesburg, South Africa
  17. Kampala, Uganda
  18. Kano, Nigeria
  19. Khartoum, Sudan
  20. Kinshasha, Congo (Democratic Republic)
  21. Lagos, Nigeria
  22. Luanda, Angola
  23. Lubumbashi, Zaire
  24. Lusaka, Zambia
  25. Mombasa, Kenya
  26. Maputo, Mozambique
  27. Mogadishu, Somalia
  28. Nairobi, Kenya
  29. Pretoria, South Africa
  30. Yaounde, Cameroon

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African Geography as Recorded by a European Explorer


  1. To introduce students to explorers' journals as sources of information about a particular place and time in Africa.
  2. To develop student awareness of the limitations of journal accounts as sources for the study of African geography.
  3. To assess the importance of an observer's "world view" in coloring the record of African places.


  1. Select a part of Africa which is of special interest to you.
  2. Find an early explorer's account of his/her travels through the part of Africa you've selected.

    NOTE: To locate an explorer's account, try going to the library to find maps of explorers' routes. The best way to do this is by going to the atlas collection located in the 3rd floor government documents and maps area. Many historical atlases show explorersí routes. Some suggestions include:

    • A Modern Atlas of African History, Maps 56 & 57


    • African History in Maps, Maps Nos. 18 & 21.

      Ref. G2445

    • Atlas of Africa Map 34

      Ref. G2445

    • The Times Atlas of World History Map p. 234

      Ref. G1030

    • Muir's Historical Atlas Map p. 80

      Ref. G1030

    • Historical Atlas of Africa

      Ref. Map Room
      S1 H5 Plate 54

    • Times Atlas of World Exploration

      Ref. Map Room
      (Several chapters on Africa.)

    After identifying an explorer, check the on-line catalogue, or OASIS, to see if an account of his/hers is in the library.

  3. Read a section of the explorer's account (at least 50 pages). On an outline map of Africa, sketch the explorer's travel route and somehow distinguish the particular portion covered in your reading. Photocopy the title page of the account.
  4. Write an essay with the route map attached. The essay should be 2-4 pages in length. It should attempt to assess the utility of this account for present day students of Africa. Answers to the following questions may be relevant.
    1. What can be learned from reading this account? Does it describe the flora, fauna, culture, economy, etc.? Do these things differ from the situation today?
    2. Are you satisfied with the completeness and accuracy of the recorded observations? Do you suspect any bias?
    3. Does the author make any value judgments about the thing he/she is writing about?
    4. Freelance your own insights.
  5. Be prepared to comment on your findings when the class topic is concerned with historical records.

Ground Rules:

  1. All papers must be typed, and photocopies of the title page of the journal and any other references must be attached to the paper.
  2. Papers will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
    1. The quality of writing (See Notes on Writing Papers) including adherence to directions for the assignment.
    2. The degree of insight demonstrated by the essay.

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Developing a "New" Map of Africa


  1. To provide students with a chance to develop a map of an African subject of special interest.
  2. To develop student experience in making original contributions to our knowledge of African geography.


  1. Define a subject with a spatial dimension which is relevant to Africa;*
  2. Seek out sources of information on this subject;**
  3. Produce a map illustrating the spatial pattern developed from the sources of information on the chosen subject.
  4. Write an essay about 2 pages in length which seeks to describe the method for developing the map, and to explain the pattern portrayed. Attach the map.
  5. Extra credit: Prepare a transparency of the map and be prepared to comment on your findings in class. (Must be handed in one class period before assignment is due to raise final grade 1%.)
*Try to show some originality here. Here are some examples that could be tried: **Sources will vary according to the topic. Define a topic early, explore the library and surf the web. If you are really stymied, check with the instructor, or a librarian, for help.

Ground rules:

  1. All papers must be typed, referenced, and a photocopy of the title page of all references should be attached.
  2. Papers will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
    1. The quality of writing. (See Notes on Writing Papers)
    2. The degree of insight demonstrated by the essay.
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Focus on an African Country's Geography


  1. To focus student attention on a particular place in Africa.
  2. To develop student awareness of one country's prospects and problems.


  1. Select an African country which is of special interest to you.
  2. Go to the library 3rd floor government documents and maps area. Browse through a selection of atlas publications with a focus on Africa. Pay particular attention to your selected country's positions in the patterns portrayed.

    Government Documents Staff Hours:
    Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Librarians
    Monday-Thurs. 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Student Help
    Saturday - Sunday 1:00 .m. to 5:00 p.m. Student Help

  3. Read background material on the country of interest found in books, journal publications, magazine articles, atlases, and web sites. Assemble information from at least three different sources. Record the full web address, or make a photocopy of the title page of each printed source you will use in the paper.
  4. Assume you work for a consulting firm which has been hired to provide background briefings for American technical experts who are going to spend several years working in your chosen country*. Your particular task is to give a one hour background briefing on the geography of the country. Others will talk about politics, etc.. Write a 2-3 page essay which outlines the spatial patterns (patterns which can be displayed on a map) you would want impressed on the minds of your listeners. Include sketch maps if you feel they would be helpful in illustrating your points.

Ground Rules:

  1. All papers must be typed.
  2. Sources used in the paper should be properly referenced. (See Notes on Writing Papers at the end of the syllabus.) Cite the full web address of all cites contributing to your paper. Attach a photocopy of the title page of every printed reference cited in the paper.
  3. Papers will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
    1. The quality of writing (see Notes on Writing Papers) and the adherence to assignment directions.
    2. The degree of insight into the country's geography and the selection of information which is relevant to the problem.

*If desired, students may specify the type of experts they are addressing. For example, they could be unmarried military advisors attached to the U.S. Embassy, or missionary families to be assigned some place in rural areas. This may help "steer" the presentation toward one kind of information, or another.

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Using the Web to Plan an African Vacation


  1. To develop student awareness of prospects and problems of using Web resources to gather Africa related information.
  2. To focus student attention on a travel opportunities in Africa.
  3. To develop student skills in synthesizing information from multiple sources on African topics.


  1. Select an African country, or region, and plan your dream vacation trip to visit the place.
  2. Explore the web for sources of information to support your trip planning activities. Most standard search engines should get you into African sites.
  3. Your particular task is to construct an essay describing a proposed two week vacation, or adventure, in the targeted country (region?) using primarily Web based sources of information. The essay should be 2-4 pages in length, but may be enhanced with additional illustrations or maps. Each Web source you use in the paper should be documented by the inclusion of a referenced web address. The best essays will be original combinations of material from at least three different websites and demonstrate a defensible ěstory lineî. (E.g. Will propose game viewing where wildlife really exists, rafting trips when there is water in the river, hotel stays that fit into a student budget, or 4x4 cross country safaris only during the dry season.)

Ground Rules:

  1. All papers must be typed.
  2. Sources used in the paper should be properly referenced. (See Notes on Writing Papers at the end of the syllabus.) Attach a photocopy of the title page of every printed reference cited in the paper.
  3. Papers will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
    1. The quality of writing (see Notes on Writing Papers) and the adherence to assignment directions.
    2. The degree of insight demonstrated by the selection and evaluation of Web information relevant to the proposed trip.
    3. The variety of source types effectively used for the essay. For example, the mere combination of three existing commercial tour company itineraries demonstrates less originality than the combined use of commercial itineraries, weather reports, airline schedules, and travelersí personal diaries.

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Notes on Writing Papers

My primary task is to teach geography. A large part of that task is evaluating the quality of ideas generated in the minds of students. In order for me to deal with the ideas of students, the ideas must be effectively communicated to me. Effective communication works to the advantage of both students and faculty. Many students do their ideas a disservice by filtering them through muddled expository writing. The person evaluating a muddled essay must assume the writer's thinking is muddled as well. In order to assist students to communicate effectively, I suggest they ask the following questions about each written assignment prepared for class:

  1. Is the paper spell-checked and proofread for mistakes?

    Hints: Type your paper early and set it aside before reading it for mistakes. Have someone else read it for mistakes.

  2. Is the paper organized in a fashion which effectively communicates the ideas?

    Hints: Include a clear statement of purpose near the beginning. Check every paragraph to make sure it has a topic sentence and contains only material related to that topic sentence. Make sure the ideas flow logically from one to another. Emphasize the most important ideas while spending less time on items of minor importance. Do not leave it to the reader to sort the good from the bad, or the important from the trivial.

  3. Do the conclusions follow from the evidence presented?

    Hints: Do not force conclusions from data. It is much better to label unsupported speculation as discussion. I encourage discussion, but it is something different from a conclusion based on solid evidence.

  4. Is the paper referenced properly?

    Academic work is not the same as journalism. Students must make it clear when it is borrowed from the work of others. A simple bibliography is rarely adequate for this purpose. The following general strategies are helpful:
    1. Completely original ideas need no references.
    2. Things which are common knowledge need no reference. e.g., World War II ended in 1945.; the AAG annual meeting was held in Philadelphia.
    3. Specific data sources must be referenced. e.g., Rats outnumber man by a factor of two to one (Fred 1990). If there is a number, there should be a reference to the number's source.
    4. Quotations exceeding 1/2 sentence in length must be referenced by source and page number. Errors made by the original author must be followed by (sic) in order to demonstrate the error was not yours. e.g., "... Caliafornia (sic) will soon sink into the ocean." (Sue 1989, 49)
    5. Borrowed ideas which are not common knowledge must be referenced by source. e.g., Some scientists feel that 2-4-5-T is a harmless product. (George 1990)
    6. Borrowed organization frameworks, idea chains, and paragraph development must be referenced. If another's ideas or text are paraphrased, it is your responsibility to give credit to the original author.
    7. When in doubt, give a reference. Reading a manual on proper procedures (such as those prepared by Kate Turabian) will help remove doubt.
  5. Does the paper include appropriately labeled illustrative material?

    Hints: Maps and graphs are often an essential part of a paper. Include them as often as possible, but label them and refer to them in the text.

  6. Is the style of the paper appropriate for communicating the message? Style is a very individual thing. Nevertheless, several common elements repeat themselves in essay receiving low grades. The wise student will work to eliminate these from his/her writing.

    Hints: Avoid the use of personal pronouns. They are usually unnecessary in report writing. Work to eliminate I, you and we from your essay. Write in the active voice whenever possible. Although the passive voice need not be discarded, it is overused by many students. Are all of the could have, have been, will be, etc. statements really needed in your essay?

  7. Is this an original paper prepared only for this class? It is expected that the student learns from the process of original research and writing. Hence a copy of a paper prepared for another class is ALWAYS UNACCEPTABLE. On some occasions, research efforts can be streamlined by writing papers on similar topics. If you intend to do this, contact the instructor for approval.

It is impossible for each of us to write like a Pulitzer Prize winner. In spite of this, we all can improve our writing. By preparing this note, I am saying that the quality of writing will be considered in the evaluation of your out-of-class work. My general procedures are:

  1. To read and grade only papers which are conscientiously proofread. Papers averaging more than one uncorrected error in spelling, grammar, or punctuation per page may be returned without a grade.
  2. To read and grade only papers which are properly referenced.
  3. To assist students by suggesting corrective actions when it appears they have difficulty with their writing skills. All students can take advantage of the Center for Writing and Learning if they have writing problems. Although the Center staff is willing to discuss any writing issue it's best to prepare a rough draft of your paper and make an appointment with a tutor by calling 737-5640, or visiting Waldo Hall 125B. The Center for Writing and Learning can help you before you receive low grades because of your writing.


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