Geography Research Areas

Geographers at the University of Sydney are engaged with the key issues facing society and the planet.

Geography is the study of the processes that produce our diverse environments. Geographical thinking is innate to humans, and the practice of geography dates from antiquity. Contemporary geographers seek explanations for the spatial variations we observe in our world – from the natural and human-induced processes that shape our physical environments, to the economic, political and cultural processes that generate spatial variations in our societies, like geographical concentrations of wealth and poverty. These spatial variations can be studied at a variety of scales, from the local to the global. The value of geography in addressing these issues is now widely recognized across the social and natural sciences.

At the University of Sydney, our researchers apply geographical concepts and cutting-edge methods to understand and address a range of important issues, from the livelihoods of farmers in the developing world to the future of our cities and planetary-scale environmental change. We also work in a diverse range of locations, from Sydney itself to the countries of Greater Asia, the Pacific Islands, and in many other locations across the planet. We advocate the value of ‘thinking geographically’ – of seeing our present challenges as multi-causal, multi-scalar, and the product of continuous interaction between humans and the natural world. We also make use of exciting new tools available for geographical research and communication, including the revolution in digital mapping of locational data on all manner of phenomena. With a proud tradition that dates to 1920, researchers in the field of geography at the University of Sydney continue to engage with the issues that challenge human society and the planet.

We invite you to explore our current research areas by exploring the links below.

  • Environmental Protection and Environmental Change Research Group: Increasingly, our Earth is shaped by synergies between humans and dynamic biophysical processes. This research group is interested in the ways that land- and water-scapes are produced by human-environment interactions, and ways that land- and water-scapes can be managed.
  • Asia-Pacific geographies: Research on natural resource management in the Mekong region, agri-food geographies, agricultural liberalization in India, the Angkor World Heritage Site, development and migration in South Pacific island-states.
  • Urban and Regional Geographies: Patterns of urban and rural settlement are undergoing rapid transformation in Australia and globally.
  • Global Development, Justice and Livelihoods: A central concern of geographers is to explain patterns and processes of uneven global development. How are poverty and prosperity manifested across space? Why is inequality such a salient feature of the contemporary world? And most importantly, what can be done to improve the livelihood prospects of the world’s poor and marginalised communities?
  • Geocoastal Research: Research encompasses river, coastal and estuarine morphodynamics and focuses on coupling between flow dynamics and morphological change involving sediment transport on a multiscale continuum from daily beach changes to Holocene and Quaternary coastal evolution.
  • The Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk Research Group: The Hazards Research Group is interested in a wide range of natural and technological hazards and our work spans the interface between the human and earth environments/sciences - exploring the characteristics of natural hazards (distributions, frequencies & magnitudes) and their impacts on people, communities and human systems.