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Asunto:NoticiasdelCeHu 373/03 / Studyng Geography in Brunei
Fecha:Viernes, 2 de Mayo, 2003  02:14:57 (-0300)
Autor:humboldt <humboldt>

NCeHu 373/03



Geography is a multi-disciplinary subject encompassing both the natural and
social sciences. As such, although in most universities students can pursue a
degree in geography in the Arts and Social Sciences or in the Humanities, in some
universities it is very much a part of the Environmental Science or Earth Science
degree programme (with a BSc or MSc Degree in Geography). Here in Universiti
Brunei Darussalam (UBD), geography is offered in the Faculty of Arts and Social
Sciences for the BA (Hons) and BA Ed. (Hons) at the undergraduate level. The
subject is also offered for post graduate studies leading to the degree of MA or
PhD in Geography, and a Post-graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in

At the undergraduate level, the Department of Geography is currently one of the
departments in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) of the university.
Courses in the Department lead to the degree of BA (Hons) in Geography in the
English medium. The first intake of students were admitted in 1992/93 session.
Earlier in 1986-91, the Department had offered a similar degree programme to
three batches of students, but in the Malay medium. For others with an interest
in a teaching career, students in geography may major in the subject in the BA
Ed. (Hons) degree programme. This strand, which started in the 1988/89 academic
session, is also open to mature students, that is, serving teachers and other
government officers with the necessary entry qualifications.

The Department also offers post-graduate studies by research (thesis) leading to
the degree of Master of Arts or Doctor of Philosophy within the sub-fields of
physical and human geography. The Department, in co-operation with the Sultan
Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education (SHBIE), also offers a special geography
package for under graduates in other disciplines who wish to teach geography in
secondary schools. Earlier in the 1990 - 1993 academic sessions, the Department
also assisted SHBIE in teaching geography content courses in the BA Ed. (Primary)
and in the Certificate of Education Programmes. We have also assisted in
conducting in-service courses on Teaching Local Studies and on Environment
Problems in the INSET programme for teachers.

The Department is also very aware of its responsibility to serve the community.
Towards this end, the Department has mounted courses that aim at personal and
self-improvement of members of the public under the Continuing Education
Programme. Our commitment to such a cause, however, is better reflected in the
departmental research efforts, in staff research publications and attendance at
international conferences held locally and overseas. To date, the Department has
successfully hosted the international conferences in Geography in the ASEAN
Region (1990), Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Application in Planning
(1992), and it has organised the International Seminar on Highlighting the
Geography of the Islamic World in the School Curricula (1992). In 1995 the
Department hosted the International Symposium on Climate and Life in the
Asia-Pacific Region (ISCLAP) jointly organised by the Department and the
Commission on Climatology of the International Geographical Union (IGU)
 . In 1997 the Department conducted a national workshop on Environmental
Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Brunei Darussalam and
the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), Bangkok.


The role of the Department of Geography in the university can be summarised as

to provide general and specialised knowledge; 
to promote the individual's intellectual and professional development; 
to meet specific skill and manpower needs; and 
to undertake research for professional and national development. 
To most people, geography is essentially about places. The common sense
justification for teaching it, for example in the Continuing Education Programme
and in-service courses, must be to disseminate useful knowledge about the world
we live in which is of interest and which has practical applications for even
non-professional geographers. Although knowledge about other lands sadly may no
longer engender a love for other fellow beings or promote mutual respect and
international peace and understanding in most parts of the world today, within
the confines of one's own country, a well-informed citizenry through some
exposure to the discipline is certainly an asset.

Geography has much to offer in training and developing the intellect. In weaving
raw materials into coherent patterns of relationships in space, Geography
requires an understanding of the manifold complexities of spatial relationships
that calls for the highest intellectual ability. Few disciplines train the
students more effectively than geography 'to think visually, with accuracy and
readiness' (Mackinder, J. 1906. in p.9 Min. Ed. Pamphlet No.39, HMSO, 1962).
While the art of synthesis can be regarded as the pinnacle of academic training
in the discipline, the emphasis on field work and various other geographical
techniques and skills adds a further dimension in the development of a practical
person, i.e., to be able to apply specific geographical tools to resolve problems
in the real world. For example, training in Geographic Information Systems and
computer applications should provide the geography graduates with an extra
cutting edge to handle their professions.

A less philosophical but pragmatic claim for teaching geography in this
university is to meet national manpower needs. Until employers are willing to
absorb geography graduates, the main demand for those with the BA or BA Ed.
majoring in the subject will be in teaching. However, the BA Degree graduates
will have had the exposure and some initial training, which should prepare them
as well as those from other disciplines for employment in government departments
and agencies and the private sector. Traditionally, geography graduates are well
suited to work as officers in government departments dealing in resource
development; planning and settlement; trade and industry; transport and
communication; and environmental protection and conservation. In the private
sector, other than in sales and administration, geography graduates are
particularly suited to travel and tourism -- one of the main industries of the
21st century.

Finally, not less important than producing graduates to meet manpower-needs, is
for the departmental staff to lead the way in undertaking research on various
aspects of the environment, human, cultural and socio-economic development in
Brunei. Such research findings are not only valuable for teaching purposes, but
can also provide useful information in the planning and development of the

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