Studying Human Geography in Nijmegen
If you are thinking of studying Human Geography or just to take a few courses in Human Geography you can not get around the Nijmegen programme in Human Geography. A number of features makes this programme to one of the best in this field in the Netherlands: small groups, innovativeness, enthusiastic teachers, interdisciplinary and international co-operation, academic level, just to mention e few. This is not just what we think of ourselves but also in external evaluations for several years now, we are qualified as top-programme.
First bachelor-master programme in Human Geography in the Netherlands
September 2001 we started the first Dutch bachelor programme in Human Geography. In September 2002 we started the master-programme with four different specialisations. By now, they have grown out to five full fledges (English taught) master specialisations, which in their renewed student-tailored form started with great success in September 2007. Therefore our programme can call itself the first truly internationally compatible Human Geography programme in the Netherlands.
Typical for Nijmegen
Even if we constantly renew and adapt our programme to newest insights, we still care a lot for the features which are so typical for our Nijmegen curriculum. If you want to know more about the contents of the bachelor- or master programme and the way we designed our curriculum please read on. More general information about the university and about the city as student city can be found (in Dutch) on the ‘studeren in Nijmegen’ site: www.ru.nl/studereninnijmegen. If you want to review al different aspects in a relaxed way off-line, you can order via the same site a free brochure (in Dutch) about our bachelor programme via the same site. The free brochure (in English) about our master-programme can be downloaded or ordered by eMail from our study adviser Jackie van de Walle, or can be downloaded.
Organisational principles of the curriculum:
Teaching in small groupsTeaching takes place at a small scale; students have the opportunity and are even expected to participate actively in it. Lectures for groups of more than 30 students are exceptional. Seminars, tutorials and colloquia for small groups guarantee that students get maximal opportunities to discuss ideas with their teachers. And as contacts between teachers and students have an informal character, studying Human Geography in Nijmegen quickly offers the feeling that one is a full member of ‘the group’ , rather than a ‘file number’ . Over and over we notice that these small groups are one of the most important reasons for the high quality of the teaching.
We have an enthusiastic team of highly qualified lecturers and researchersOur team of lecturers and researchers excels in good mutual relationships and intensive comradely co-operation. The team includes persons who were trained at various Dutch universities and persons who were born and educated abroad or worked there for years as teachers or researchers. Teaching geography and doing geographical research is our work as well as our hobby, and we think that one can only excel in these activities when one enjoys one's work, especially when one can share this feeling with like-minded colleagues with whom one works. That is why our team spirit is on such a sound footing for good teaching and research. During your course of study you will soon experience this atmosphere and even get involved in it. In short, this is a place which you will enjoy and where as a student you will quickly feel at home.
You learn to broaden your horizonHuman Geography at Nijmegen features the only department of its kind in the Netherlands incorporating a faculty, which embraces a number of distinct disciplines. Moreover, there is a close co-operation with the other departments of our university and with other universities in the Netherlands and abroad. These relationships and their influences force us to openness while at the same time they are a constant challenge to us. We cannot lean back in a self-satisfied manner and limit ourselves to our own disciplinary business. We have to look constantly at what is happening beyond its borders, and this brings us many exciting inspirations. Human Geography in Nijmegen deliberately aims, therefore, at an interchange of ideas with other disciplines. Thus we choose a trans-disciplinary teaching approach, which means that one learns how to critically evaluate diverging insights originating from different disciplines and merge these into innovative new combinations. This open-mindedness offers the greatest opportunities for finding solutions to societal problems, which so often express themselves in the form of spatial conflicts.
Linked to the parallel programmes in Physical Planning and Environmental-PolicyAn important aspect of the renewed study of Human Geography is its close association with the study of Physical Planning. Looking at the programme one will notice immediately that a number of the courses are joint courses together with physical planning and environmental policy. But in these joint courses also conscientious attention is given to the specific human geographical perspective. Through this creative confrontation with other disciplines dealing with the man-environment / man-space relationships, one discovers one’s own position as a human geographer and also that by co-operation with these other disciplines one can find better solutions for problems.
Nijmegen can be your springboard to a study abroadHuman geographers at Nijmegen are in close contact with a considerable number of foreign universities, including top-rated universities in the field of human geography. We are also constantly striving for an enlargement of our contact network, both in the Netherlands and abroad, providing further opportunities for practical training and study for students, including apprenticeships, exchanges and research opportunities abroad. This network spans Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa and the USA. The study programme itself is designed to offer ideal possibilities for study abroad. The unique location of Nijmegen, situated at five kilometres from the border, gives rise to very tight contacts with Germany, the most important ‘hinterland’ of the Netherlands and future heartland of the enlarged European Union. Our co-operation with the Centre for German Studies at Nijmegen University plays an important role here. The further you get in the programme the chance to meet foreign colleagues and foreign (guest)lecturers increases substantially. Also this is a typical aspect of a real university study at academic level seeking the best there is worldwide.
Various study modesSince September 2000 we also provide a dual-study mode, which takes a bit longer, but at the same time combines studying with extended periods of paid work in the practical field of human geography with one of our contract partners. You can also complement your master-studies with an additional course programme for scientific researcher. Especially if you have ambitions as academic researcher (PhD) this addition programme is recommended, but also if you want to sharpen your analytical ambitions for a career outside the university this additional programme is very useful. If you already have completed a professional bachelor, you can complete your studies with an academic master degree in about two years. Human Geography is a very broad discipline and therefore these students a great number of different professional bachelor studies might qualify for entering this special programme. Depending on your background you can be freed from certain course obligations.
Foreign studentsOur courses are taught in Dutch or English. We usually flexibly shift to English if a substantial number of foreign students participate. Our experience, however, is that most foreign students also learn Dutch quickly. About 80-90% of compulsory course literature is in English. For the remaining 10-20% alternative English literature can be suggested. All our staff members speak Dutch, English and German, some also French and Spanish. For foreign students we also have special facilities such as language courses, adapted course literature, the possibility to do assignments, and write term-papers as well as doing examinations in German or English.
Contents of the programme:
You draw up your own study programIn the course of one's study career one gets the opportunity to develop personal skills and interests. Naturally, there are compulsory courses dedicated to core questions of Human Geography, but at later stages of training one gets ample opportunities to specialise in those parts and themes one considers most interesting or relevant. Also with the substantial space for optional courses in the bachelor programme you can determine your own specialisation. In the master programme you can choose between five different specialisations:
Free Specialisation (combination of courses of your own choice)
You can download a nice flyer which gives a short overview over these master specialisations.
In the course of your study you learn a broad range of practical skillsThe Faculty of Management Sciences, of which Human Geography is a part, enjoys the solid reputation of training its students in skills both practical and relevant to the discipline. This means that once one has graduated, one has acquired a great number of key skill-sets that are highly competitive for a position in the labour market. The use of computer infrastructure, of the Internet as a means of communication and of geographical information systems (GIS) all belong to the standard repertoire, just as do training in communicative skills and teamwork, to name but a few. Because nowadays it is of great importance that you can transmit or ‘sell’ the result of your geographic work to all kinds of target groups and through all kinds of media, we have trashed all those dull and one-sided ‘term papers’ . In stead, in our programme you will learn to present your human geographic knowledge in a broad spectrum of different forms such as: a scientific article, a text book, a popularising article in a newspaper, an exhibition, an instruction video, an original oral presentation, a business plan, an internet site, a consultancy report etc.. Two of the most important skills, particularly emphasised in the study of Human Geography in Nijmegen, are (critical) ‘reflection’ and ‘analysis’ . As we consider these to be thé key skills, enabling creativity and innovativeness, we devote specific and ample attention to them.
Within each of these master specialisations there is space for elective courses. More flexibility is hardly thinkable. Moreover, in the final year of study you can refine your specialisation by choosing autonomously the subject of your master's thesis, and the organisation where you will conduct your master thesis-research. Note, however, that we do not want to produce narrow gauge geographers, and therefore we notwithstanding your specialisation, also keep an eye on the general debates within our discipline. This flexibility guarantees that you are graduating in a field, which you can really call your own.
Human Geography in Nijmegen is praxis-orientedIn teaching Human Geography we attach great importance on the ability of students to place topical practical problems into a theoretical framework and also reflect upon these problems in a more general manner. In this way we want to contribute with our knowledge to solutions for the current problems of our society: geography is a very concerned and engaged discipline! We do this by directing our research and teaching explicitly at the most urgent societal problems and by continually translating our findings into concrete proposals for the improvement of the policy measures of responsible government agencies, private companies and organisations. That knowledge of the spatiality and situatedness of our daily activities matters is also clearly shown in the caricature at the right. Human Geography in Nijmegen is thus directed to a high degree at practical issues and during the programme one will often get involved in projects and issues, which are derived directly from concrete practical cases. Once you are graduated you will reap the benefits of this approach in your own professional career.
Critical thinkingWhereas at many university departments the human geography curriculum is restricted more and more to so-called ‘mainstream’ geography we clearly go a step further. Although at our department one can certainly become familiar with the tricks of the trade concerning mainstream human geography, you will also learn to reflect critically upon this approach. At the same time one gets acquainted with interesting alternatives to that approach as well. We belong to the limited number of geography departments which, for instance, not only considers traditional behavioural approaches — assuming that human behaviour is determined by its environment — but also engages extensively with the area of action-theory — assuming that human actions are mainly determined by the persons own motives —. The so-called ‘new regional geography’ and debates in critical geography also receive much attention. Finally we also actively participate in the debate around more post-modern and other post-positivistic approaches, and look at the practical consequences of this kind of thinking. In so doing, we place ourselves in the front lines of modern human geographical research.
Human Geography in Nijmegen is a real academic programme educating for ‘top’ jobsIn the current inflationary growth of all kinds of educational programmes at all kinds of levels it is necessary to say that the Human Geography curriculum in Nijmegen explicitly distinguishes itself as an academic programme at a high level. Our graduates can not be compared with professional bachelors. The thorough scientific analysis of socio-spatial problems, causes and solutions or in general the scientific and critical reflection on what happens in our society and what is said about it, is of paramount importance to us. Thinking in conceptual and theoretical frameworks and translating them into down-to-earth practical actions and decisions is a crucial element of our academic curriculum. This will enable you later on to qualify for strategic and executive jobs. Especially in these positions academic qualities are highly demanded.