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Political geography explained

The board game 'Diplomacy', showing a political map of EuropePolitical geography looks at how governments and countries are affected by their location.

If you’ve got a map of the world, it probably comes labelled with the borders of countries. Unlike rivers and mountains, these aren’t a part of the landscape, but they are a huge part of the way we look at the world - and that means they are important to geographers.

Political geography looks at a huge number of different elements in the relationship between politics and places. Examples include:

  • how boundaries between countries, states or counties are made
  • whether the size of a country affects how powerful it is
  • how the way natural resources are distributed around the world affects trade and war

And it’s not just theoretical: political geography has practical applications in things like the design of constituencies for elections.

Studying political geography

As well as studying for a geography degree and specialising in political geography, there are more specific courses you can take which combine politics and geography. Look into courses like Geography and International Relations (Aberdeen) or Politics and Geography (Chester). However, you should keep in mind that the balance between politics and geography and the way the two areas combine will be different depending on the course. If you’re not sure exactly what the course involves, contact the university to find out.

What can I do with political geography?

Unless you want to become an academic, few jobs will specifically require political geography. However, you may find the political elements useful for careers related to politics, in addition to the general benefits of a geography degree.

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