AP Human Geography

AP Human Geography Syllabus

Mitch Lant, M. Ed.  
Room: H-7     
[email protected]


Advanced Placement Human Geography class is equivalent to a college introductory-level geography course.  The curriculum focuses on the study of patterns and processes that shape human understanding, use, and modification of the Earth.   

After reviewing basic geographic skills and knowledge, students will be prepared for and expected to take the AP Human Geography test in May.

This class will feature lectures, field work, discussion, research projects, assessments, and debate over geographic issues.  The study of current events on multiple scales (local, national, and international) will help students understand the practical application of geography to “the real world.”


Rubenstein,  An Introduction to Human Geography: The Cultural Landscape, AP Edition, 11th Edition, Pearson, 2014.

Supplementary Texts

McNamara, Margaret, ed., World Classroom Atlas, Rand McNally, 1997.

Zack, Ian, ed., Upfront Magazine, The New York Times, New York, 2014


For this class, you will need:

1.      Three-ring binder or other appropriate organization system and loose leaf paper

2.      Colored pencils

3.      Black or blue pens and pencils

4.      Red pen or pencil (for correcting)



50% Homework

50% Tests/Essays/Projects


Student Expectations

  • Be in your seat, prepared for class, and quiet when the bell finishes ringing.

  • Listen and be courteous to other students, guest teachers, and teacher.

  • Wait to be dismissed by the teacher at the end of the period.

  • Use appropriate language.

  • Take off your earbuds/headphones during class.

  • Eat and drink in the lunch room, not the classroom.

  • Phones should have ringers turned off and not be used in class except by teacher permission.  Please follow the OHS computer use policy or your computer/internet privileges will be restricted and phones taken.

  • This classroom will be a place where all opinions are valued.  When someone is talking, it is the responsibility of us all to listen.  Racial, ethnic, homophobic, or sexist remarks and other slurs will not be tolerated.

  • Your free-response essays demonstrate your ability to analyze and interpret concepts in human geography and prepare you for the essay section of the AP Exam.  Written work done outside of class should be word-processed.  Please proof your work carefully for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

  • Outside reading is essential for success in this class.  Keep up with your reading!

Late Work Policy

You are responsible for turning work in on time.  Assignments received late will be given a 25% penalty until middle and end of semester deadlines (after which they will not be accepted). This means 25% will be subtracted from the score you earn on that late assignment. If you miss a due date because of an excused absence, it will not be considered late.  You have one day for each day missed after an excused absence to make-up work.  It is your responsibility to contact me about what you missed. 

It is the student’s responsibility to reschedule any exams missed during the term.  Any exams not made up by the deadline at the end of each quarter will be converted to a zero.


Academic Integrity/Cheating

All work produced in this class must be your own.  If you violate this policy, you will receive a 0 on the assignment.  Additionally, allowing anyone else to copy your work will result in a 0 on your test, project or assignment.  If you wish to receive credit for the assignment in question, you will need to complete an alternative assignment to be determined by the teacher.  In addition to the consequences discussed above, any instances of cheating will also result in parental notification and a referral to the office.

Grade Scale

93-100  A        87-89  B+        80-82  B-         73-76  C                      67-69  D+

90-92    A-       83-86  B          77-79  C+        70-72  C-                     60-66  D


Units of Study

Unit I:  Geography- Its Nature and Perspectives

Text Reading: Chapter 1, Thinking Geographically


Field Study I: Students will take a field trip around the school’s campus, using handheld GPS devices to gather coordinates of objects visible from space on satellite images, such as the flag pole, the horticulture area, and a sculpture in the bus turnaround.

GPS data from the field trip will be used to plot the objects on Google Earth maps using these coordinates.



Major Topics

A. Geography as a field of inquiry

B.  Major geographical concepts underlying the geographical perspective: location, space, place, scale, pattern, nature and society, regionalization, globalization, and gender issues

C.  Key geographical skills

1.      Use and think about maps and geospatial data

2.      Understand and interpret the implications of associations among

a.       Phenomena in places

3.      Recognize and interpret at different scales the relationships among patterns and processes

4.      Define regions and evaluate the regionalization process

5.      Characterize and analyze changing interconnections among places

D. Use of geospatial technologies, such as GIS, remote sensing, global positioning systems (GPS), and online maps

E. Sources of geographical information and ideas: the field, census data, online data, aerial photography, and satellite imagery

F. Identification of major world regions


Unit II:  Population

Text Readings: 

            Chapter 2, Population           

            Chapter 3, Migration


Major Topics

A. Geographical analysis of population

1.      Density, distribution, and scale

2.      Implications of various densities and distributions

3.      Composition: age, sex, income, education, and ethnicity

4.      Patterns of fertility, mortality, and health

B.        Population growth and decline over time and space

1.      Historical trends and projections for the future

2.      Theories of population growth and decline, including the Demographic Transition Model

3.      Regional variations of demographic transition

4.      Effects of national population policies: promoting population growth in some countries or reducing fertility rates in others

5.      Environmental impacts of population change on water use, food supplies, biodiversity, the atmosphere, and climate

6.      Population and natural hazards: impacts on policy, economy, and society

C.        Migration

1.      Types of migration: transnational, internal, chain, step, seasonal

2.      agriculture (e.g., transhumance), and rural to urban

3.      Major historical migrations

4.      Push and pull factors, and migration in relation to employment and

5.      quality of life

6.      Refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons

7.      Consequences of migration: socioeconomic, cultural, environmental, and political; immigration policies


Unit III:  Cultural Patterns and Processes

Text Readings: 

            Chapter 4, Culture

            Chapter 5, Language

            Chapter 6, Religion


Religion Scale Project: Using map and table data provided by the instructor, students will compare diffusion of universalizing religions at the county level in the United States with their spread on a regional and global scale.


Major Topics

A. Concepts of culture

1.      Culture traits

2.      Diffusion patterns

3.      Acculturation, assimilation, and multiculturalism

4.      Cultural region, vernacular regions, and culture hearths

5.      Globalization and the effects of technology on cultures

B. Cultural differences and regional patterns

1.      Language and communications

2.      Religion and sacred space

3.      Ethnicity and nationalism

4.      Cultural differences in attitudes toward gender

5.      Popular and folk culture

6.      Cultural conflicts, and law and policy to protect culture

C.  Cultural landscapes and cultural identity

1.      Symbolic landscapes and sense of place

2.      The formation of identity and place making

3.      Differences in cultural attitudes and practices toward the environment

4.      Indigenous peoples


Unit IV: Political Organization of States

Text Readings:

            Chapter 7, Ethnicity

             Chapter 8, Political Geography


Major Topics

A. Territorial dimensions of politics

1.      The concepts of political power and territoriality

2.      The nature, meaning, and function of boundaries

3.      Influences of boundaries on identity, interaction, and exchange

4.      Federal and unitary states, confederations, centralized government, and

forms of governance

5.      Spatial relationships between political systems and patterns of ethnicity,

6.      economy, and gender

7.      Political ecology: impacts of law and policy on the environment and

environmental justice

B.  Evolution of the contemporary political pattern

1.      The nation-state concept

2.      Colonialism and imperialism

3.      Democratization

4.      Fall of communism and legacy of the Cold War

5.      Patterns of local, regional, and metropolitan governance

C. Changes and challenges to political-territorial arrangements

1.      Changing nature of sovereignty

2.      Fragmentation, unification, and cooperation

3.      Supranationalism and international alliances

4.      Devolution of countries: centripetal and centrifugal forces

5.      Electoral geography: redistricting and gerrymandering

6.      Armed conflicts, war, and terrorism


Unit V:  Rural and Agricultural Land Use

Text Reading: Chapter 10, Agriculture


Major Topics

A.  Development and diffusion of agriculture

1.      Neolithic Agricultural Revolution

2.      Second Agricultural Revolution

3.      Green Revolution

4.      Large-scale commercial agriculture and agribusiness

B.  Major agricultural production regions

1.      Agricultural systems associated with major bioclimatic zones

2.      Variations within major zones and effects of markets

3.      Interdependence among regions of food production and consumption

C.  Rural land use and settlement patterns

1.      Models of agricultural land use, including von Thünen’s model

2.      Settlement patterns associated with major agriculture types: subsistence, cash cropping, plantation, mixed farming, monoculture, pastoralism,

ranching, forestry, fishing and aquaculture

3.      Land use/land cover change: irrigation, desertification, deforestation, wetland destruction, conservation efforts to protect or restore natural

land cover, and global impacts

4.      Roles of women in agricultural production and farming communities

D.  Issues in contemporary commercial agriculture

1.      Biotechnology, including genetically modified organisms (GMO)

2.      Spatial organization of industrial agriculture, including the transition

in land use to large-scale commercial farming and factors affecting the

3.      location of processing facilities

4.      Environmental issues: soil degradation, overgrazing, river and aquifer depletion, animal wastes, and extensive fertilizer and pesticide use

5.      Organic farming, crop rotation, value-added specialty foods, regional

appellations, fair trade, and eat-local-food movements

6.      Global food distribution, malnutrition, and famine


Unit VI:  Industrialization and Economic Development

Text Readings:

            Chapter 9, Development

            Chapter 11, Industry

            Chapter 12, Services


Field Study II: Students will visit the Kitsap Mall and make several observations including a four-level analysis.  The landscape analysis will include the interior and exterior components of the mall with an emphasis on economic activities.


Major Topics

A.  Growth and diffusion of industrialization

1.      The changing roles of energy and technology

2.      Industrial Revolution

3.      Models of economic development: Rostow’s Stages of Economic Growth

and Wallerstein’s World Systems Theory

4.      Geographic critiques of models of industrial location: bid rent, Weber’s

comparative costs of transportation and industrial location in relation to

resources, location of retailing and service industries, and local economic

development within competitive global systems of corporations and


B.  Social and economic measures of development

1.      Gross domestic product and GDP per capita

2.      Human Development Index

3.      Gender Inequality Index

4.      Income disparity and the Gini coefficient

5.      Changes in fertility and mortality

6.      Access to health care, education, utilities, and sanitation

C.  Contemporary patterns and impacts of industrialization and development

1.      Spatial organization of the world economy

2.      Variations in levels of development (uneven development)

3.      Deindustrialization, economic restructuring, and the rise of service and high technology economies

4.      Globalization, manufacturing in newly industrialized countries (NICs),

and the international division of labor

5.      Natural resource depletion, pollution, and climate change

6.      Sustainable development

7.      Government development initiatives: local, regional, and national policies

8.      Women in development and gender equity in the workforce 

Unit VII:  Cities and Urban Land Use

Text Reading:  Chapter 13, Urban Patterns


Field Study III: Students will take a field trip to Seattle by way of Washington State Ferry and ride the Sounder light rail train to SeaTac Airport, noting aspects of urban and suburban landscape edges and components.

Data from the field study will be used to create a small scale map of the Seattle/Tacoma metropolitan area using GPS devices to layer the path of the Sounder train on the base satellite map using ArcGIS.


Major Topics

A.  Development and character of cities

1.      Origin of cities; site and situation characteristics

2.      Forces driving urbanization

3.      Borchert’s epochs of urban transportation development

4.      World cities and megacities

5.      Suburbanization processes

B.  Models of urban hierarchies: reasons for the distribution and size of cities

1.      Gravity model

2.      Christaller’s central place theory

3.      Rank-size rule

4.      Primate cities

C.  Models of internal city structure and urban development: strengths and limitations of models

1.      Burgess concentric zone model

2.      Hoyt sector model

3.      Harris and Ullman multiple nuclei model

4.      Galactic city model

5.      Models of cities in Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East,

sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, and South Asia

D.  Built environment and social space

1.      Types of residential buildings

2.      Transportation and utility infrastructure

3.      Political organization of urban areas

4.      Urban planning and design (e.g., gated communities, New Urbanism,

and smart-growth policies)

5.      Census data on urban ethnicity, gender, migration, and socioeconomic


6.      Characteristics and types of edge cities: boomburgs, greenfields, uptowns

E.  Contemporary urban issues

1.      Housing and insurance discrimination, and access to food stores

2.      Changing demographic, employment, and social structures

3.      Uneven development, zones of abandonment, disamenity, and gentrification

4.      Suburban sprawl and urban sustainability problems: land and energy use, cost of expanding public education services, home financing and debt crises

5.      Urban environmental issues: transportation, sanitation, air and water quality, remediation of brownfields, and farmland protection



AP Test Date: 

Tuesday, May 15, 2015