Economic Geography

Course code                  

Lecture time60 academic hours


Course attributeCompulsory Course

InstructorsDr. Wenzhong Zhang; Dr. Xiaoping Zhang

Teaching formsClassroom lecture, seminar, field investigation

Course description:

This course is a core course for students majored in Human Geography and Regional & Rural Planning. The main contents of this course include basic locational principles of economic activities, spatial structures of regional development, and basic methodologies in economic geography research. The main aims of this course are to enable students to systematically grasp the basic theories and methodologies in economic geography, to cultivate their thinking systems from the perspectives of economic geography, and to strengthen and enhance their cognitive and analytical abilities towards economic geography phenomena and problems. This course is expected to help the students to lay a solid foundation for future research and practice in the fields related to regional economics, regional development, and urban and rural planning.

Pre-courses: Human Geography, Chinese Geography, Physical Geography


Edited by: Xiaojian Li et al. Economic Geography (3rd edition). Beijing: Higher Education Press, 2018. ISBN Code:978-7-04-049537-9 (In Chinese)

Topics and Schedule

1 Introduction

1.1 Course arrangement

1.2 Research objects and system of Economic Geography

1.3 Relations between Economic Geography and related disciplines

1.4 Development characteristics and trends of Economic Geography

2 Locational factors and determinants of economic activities

2.1 Location and locational factors

2.2 Impact of natural factors on location of economic activities

2.3 Impact of socio-economic factors on location of economic activities

3 Agricultural location theory

3.1 Summary of agricultural location theory

3.2 Application and evolution of agricultural location theory

3.3 Practices of agricultural location theory in China

4 Industrial location theory

4.1 Summary of industrial location theory

4.2 Evolution of industrial location theory

4.3 Practice and case analysis of industrial location theory

5 Location theories of business and services

5.1 Central location theory and its application

5.2 Retail location theory and its application

5.3 Comprehensive analysis of central business district

5.4 Cultural and innovative industries and their determinants

6 Firm location and its spatial evolution

6.1 Spatial effects of firm growth

6.2 Types of spatial evolution of firms

6.3 Categories of firm organization and their spatial features

7 Regional economic development

7.1 Elements of economic development and supply-demand relationship

7.2 Theories of industrial structure evolution

7.3 Regional growth theories

8 Regional spatial structure

8.1 Elements of regional spatial structure

8.2 Mechanisms of spatial agglomeration and diffusion

8.3 Models and evolutions of regional spatial structure

9 Regional linkages and spatial interaction

9.1 Core-periphery theory

9.2 Gravity model and theory of distance decay

9.3 Regional division and trade

10 Regional disparity

10.1 Measurement of regional disparity

10.2 Theories of regional disparity

10.3 Case study of regional disparity in China

11 Strategies and policies of regional development

11.1 Theories related to regional strategies and policies

11.2 Evolution of regional strategies and policies in China

12 TNCs, globalization and their impacts on regional development

12.1 Locational factors of TNCs

12.2 Locational patterns of TNCs

12.3 Impacts of globalization on regional development

12.4 Impacts of FDI on regional development in China

13 Methodologies and data collection in Economic Geography

13.1 Literature review methods

13.2 Qualitative methods

13.3 Quantitative methods

13.4 GIS and Spatial Analysis

14 New trends in Economic Geography

14.1 Institutional and cultural turn

14.2 New Economic Geography

14.3 Evolutionary Economic Geography

14.4 Characteristics of Economic Geography in China

Two times of field investigation and on-the-spot learning are scheduled in this course.

1.Field investigation to Industrial Museum of Capital Iron and Steel Company and industrial heritage park in Shijingshan District of Beijing is to be scheduled. Students are required to submit an investigation report related to industrial location theories and urban regeneration. The grading results are included in the final scores.

2.Field investigation to the Shishahai commercial district in Xicheng District of Beijing is to be scheduled. Students are required to submit an investigation report related to commercial location theories and industrial clusters. The grading results are included in the final scores.

Assessment and Grading

A hundred-mark evaluation system is adopted. Performance in class, including class attendance, assignment and presentation, investigation reports, accounts for 50%, and final examination accounts for 50% of the total scores.


1. Neil M. Coe, Philip F. Kelly, Henry W. C. Yeung. Economic GeographyA Contemporary Introduction 2nd Edition. John Wiley & Sons, IncUSA. 2012.

2. Xiaojian Li. Inquiry Learning in Economic Geography. Beijing: Higher Education Press, 2015.

3. Wanzhong Yang. Fundamentals of Economic Geography (4th Edition). Shanghai: East China Normal University Press, 2013

4. Weidong Liu. Thoughts of Economic Geography. Beijing: Science Press. 2013

5. Wenzhong Zhang. Locational Theories of Economic Activities. BeijingScience Press2000.

Brief Introduction about the Instructors:

Wenzhong Zhang, Ph.D in Human and Economic Geography, professor in the Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Xiaoping Zhang, Ph.D in Human and Economic Geography, associate professor in the College of Resources and Environment of University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.