Geography of East Asia

UAB Barcelona Summer School

14-Geography of East Asia - Hyerim Yoon

Number of credits: 6 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)
Course Fee: 850 €
Course Fee for UAB students: 200 €
Teaching Language: English
Place: UAB Campus Belltaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès), Barcelona
Teaching Period:  12 July to 30 July

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Enrolment guidelines




Hyerim Yoon has a PhD in Geography from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), and has an MSc from ERASMUS MUNDUS Program JEMES (Joint European Master on Environmental Studies) and a BSc in Chemical Engineering (Yonsei University, South Korea). Currently, she is a lecturer (associate professor) in the Department of East Asian Studies on Geography of Asia at UAB and she also teaches classes on Energy Management in the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA), and School of Engineering, UAB. Her current research interest includes energy and water poverty and other social challenges arising with environmental problems. In the past, she worked in Korea Environment Institute as a researcher and has participated in projects that analysed various environmental policies on sustainable development, green growth and green cities in Korea.

  • Department of Geography
  • E-mail:


Contents overview

The course will cover the basics of the Geography of East Asia mainly focusing on China, Japan, North and South Korea, and Taiwan. The students will be introduced to the Physical and Human Geography of East Asian countries touching upon the most relevant aspects in geopolitics; physiography, climate, river basins, population, agricultural and food systems, manufacturing, cities (urbanism) and the state of the environment of the East Asian countries.          

The course combines lectures and learning activities. The activities will introduce students to additional materials related to the topics covered in lectures and allow them to work on critical thinking and reasoning. They will use statistical data produced by international or national agencies and also will have to do a general search for information on East Asian countries. These works will be conducted mostly in groups of 2-3 students. The reports that should be handed in for evaluation include short essays and analytical exercises. There will also be classroom discussion and online forum discussions on documentaries, current issues from newspaper articles and other visual materials. Last days of the course will be dedicated to group presentations on a list of challenges (social, political, geopolitical, environmental etc.), which will be shared and allocated to each group on the first day of the class.

Week programme

Geography of East Asia
 Week   Contents Teaching and Learning Activities

1.1. Geopolitics
1.2.1 Physical Environment: Physiography
1.2.2 Physical Environment II: Rivers
1.3.1 Population I

Majority of the activities will be conducted in small groups and will be evaluated in the form of handed in reports, essays or exercises. The proposed activities include but are not limited to:

1. Geopolitics in East Asia

2. Hands-on climatograms

3. Demographic change in East Asia

1.3.2 Population II
2.1.1 Agriculture and food systems I

2.1.2 Agriculture and food systems II
2.2. Energy and manufacturing

2.3. Industrial development of Korea: exemplar of a fast-growing economy

4. Natural disaster and response

5. Changing diet

3.1. Urban systems
3.2. The state of the environment in East Asia

6. Big giant players in the industry

7. Creative cities

8. Group presentations



Students will be evaluated based on the following activities: 

  • Students will be evaluated based on below activities

    - One final quiz at the end of the course: 30% of the final grade

    - Submission of reports from activities (30% of the final grade) and a group presentation (10% of the final grade).

    - Participation in classroom and online discussions (15% of the final grade.

Submission of reports is mandatory, and students will not pass the course unless they submit all required works.

Links and references              

  • BALL, P. (2017). The Water Kingdom. Chicago: The University of ChicagoPress
  • DUNFORD, M. and WEIDONG,L. (eds) (2017). The Geographical Transformation of China. London: Routledge
  • KANASAKA,K, (2009). Discovering Japan. A New Regional Geography. London: JPT Europe
  • KAPLAN, R.D. (2015). Asia's Cauldron. The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific. New York: Penguin Random House
  • MARKS, R.B. 2012). China. Its Environment and History. Kanham UK: Rowan and Littlefield.
  • SAMUELS, R.J. (2013) . 3.11 Disaster and Change in Japan. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  • STUDWELL,J. (2014). How Asia Works. Success and Failure in the World's Most Dynamic Region.London: Profile Books.
  • TUAN, Yi -Fu (1969). A Historical Geography of China. Chicago: Aldine
  • VEEK, G., PANNELL, C.W., HUANG, Y and BAO; S (2016). China's Geography. Globalization and theDynamics of Political, Economic and Social Change. Lanham, MD: Rowman &Littlefield
  • WONG, D.W. S., WONG,K.K.K., CHUNG,H. and WANG,J.J. (2018). China. A Geographical Perspective. New York: Guilford Press.
  • SETH, M (2020). A Concise History of Korea. London UK: Rowan and Littlefield