Department of Geography
In 1904 the first geography lectures at the University of Adelaide, titled 'Commercial Geography including elements of Technology' were given by the University Librarian, Mr John Clucas. Geography was taught as part of commerce and economics courses and preceded the formation of the Department of Geography. Clucas taught geography on a part-time basis in the evenings in addition to his full-time position as University Librarian.
Geography became increasingly popular as the University expanded in size.
In 1908 the Diploma in Commerce replaced the Advanced Commercial Certificate and Technology was dropped from the title of the geography course, which then became titled Commercial Geography as a compulsory subject within the diploma.
The content of the geography course changed to a more regional emphasis with a section on practical work added to the lectures.
The course changed again in 1912 with the introduction of Griffith Taylor's book Australia in its physiographic and economic aspects as the primary text.
In 1919 Commercial Geography was elevated to a two year course and renamed Economic Geography Parts I and II. Both courses were taught by Clucas.
In the 1920s the scrapping of geography as an academic discipline was proposed. However, an established number of influential South Australians with connections to the Royal Geographical Society supported its retention.
In 1930 separately titled ‘geography’ courses were introduced into the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Economics degrees with Dr Charles Fenner as lecturer. Geography 1 was well-received with over one hundred enrolments. It was a very different course from the one given in the Diploma in Commerce with the addition of some human geography texts to complement Griffith Taylor’s book on Australia as the major text and later in 1933 Fenner’s own book, South Australia: A Geographical Study. Fenner remained in charge of geography until late in 1951, although for much of the time he relied heavily on Clarence Martin who was first appointed as acting lecturer in the third term of 1931 when Fenner was away. Martin assisted again for part of 1936, gave the full course in 1937 and then when Fenner became Director of Education in 1939, Martin was appointed as lecturer on a part-time basis although Fenner remained nominally in charge. Martin was a regional geographer who integrated the physical and human landscapes into a meaningful whole.
When two years of geography could be offered from 1940 onwards, Martin taught Geography II but then filled in teaching Geography I for part of 1944 and then taught both Geography I and II in 1949/50. Martin continued to lecture in geography at the University until the end of 1953.
In 1939, academic geography was strengthened with the appointment of Ann Marshall as a part-time lecturer.
The year 1949 was important for the development of academic geography with the appointment of Archie Grenfell Price (later Sir Grenfell Price) as a part-time lecturer. This allowed for the introduction of a third-year in geography so that students had for the first time the opportunity to take a full major in geography.
Archie Price was a member of the University Council for 37 years (1925– 62) and fought hard for geographical studies and became a great friend of Charles Fenner. In 1949 his efforts along with his friends to establish a proper Department of Geography at the University of Adelaide was successful. The University Council asked him to report on the possibility of changing the part-time Department into a Department with full Honours teaching, which happened in 1951.
Thus by 1950, the earlier and sometimes chequered development of academic geography at the University of Adelaide was complete with the agreement to create a full-time position and establish a full major, providing for departmental status.
In 1950 the University agreed to a full-time position. The appointment of Graham Lawton as Reader in Geography in 1951 created a turning point for the discipline as it was the first full-time appointment and allowed the creation of an honours course followed by a graduate programme.
In the 1950s there was a rapid expansion of staff with Bruce Mason appointed part-time in 1952 to teach climatology (and then a full-time senior lecturer in 1959); Keith Thomson in 1953 as a full-time lecturer; Ron Hefford in 1956 as a full-time tutor (subsequently promoted to lecturer in 1962); Ross Cochrane in 1957 as a full-time lecturer in biogeography; Ann Marshall was given a full-time lecturing position in 1958; and also in 1959 Roland Twidale as a fulltime lecturer. In 1959 Graham Lawton was promoted to be the first Professor of Geography at Adelaide. Thus within ten years the Department had moved from part-time staff to a consolidated position of 6 full-time staff including a professor, four lecturers and a tutor.
The 1960s were important for the consolidation and expansion of the Geography Department. Trevor Griffin, Peter Smailes, Derek Smith and Fay Gale were appointed as lecturers in 1960, 1963, 1964 and 1966 respectively. In 1964 it moved from its initial home in the Mawson Laboratories, to a custom-built space on the eighth and ninth floors of the newly constructed Napier Building. It was also in the 1960s that the first three Geography PhDs graduated.
The 1970s saw some major staff changes with the resignation of Nigel Wace in 1971 and the retirements of Ann Marshall (1974) and Bruce Mason (1975) followed by the retirement of the foundation professor Graham Lawton in 1977. New staff were appointed in the 1970s: Blair Badcock in 1972, David Gilbertson and Sandra Taylor in 1975, and Peter Lamb and Dorothy Cloher in 1976. However, there was some instability once the professor had retired. In 1974 Fay Gale was elected as the first non-professorial Chair of the Department, and the first female Chairperson in the University.
Michael Williams resigned in 1978 during the same year that Fay Gale was appointed as the Professor of Geography, the first female professor at the University of Adelaide.
The 1980s continued to be a challenge for the Department. Professor Gale was appointed as Chair and immediately began exploring various strategies for the survival of Geography in the face of a university-wide financial squeeze causing three posts in Geography to be frozen at the same time as the discipline had low student numbers. In 1982 a Review of Earth Sciences recommended secondment of Rowl Twidale to the Department of Geology, noting that such a secondment would cause a serious imbalance between physical and human staffing in Geography. A more significant external review of the Department of Geography took place in 1987. In 1988 Fay Gale was appointed as Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Blair Badcock took over as Chair, with a new course structure in place.
Peter Smailes took over as Chair in 1989 at a time when a review of Environmental Studies was being conducted and there was concern of potential overlap of courses taught between Geography and Environmental Studies. The Review, however, recommended the appointment of a foundation professor in Environment Studies and supported the maintenance of separate departments. The University also gave approval to replace Fay Gale with the appointment of a new professor of Geography. Subsequently, Graeme Hugo was appointed as Professor of Geography but did not take up the post immediately.
Throughout the 1990s human and physical geography courses were taught separately underpinning the philosophical direction of the Department.
In 1996 Lesley Potter took over from Graeme Hugo as Head of Department. 
In 1998 the Department merged with the Mawson Graduate Centre for Environmental Studies to form the Department of Geographical and Environmental Studies in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Environmental Studies were first taught in 1975 at a centre which was outside of the normal University structure. It joined the Faculty of Arts in 1984 and in 1990 changed its name to the Mawson Graduate Centre. It became a department in 1993 when a foundation Chair was appointed.
In 2010 the Department of Geographical and Environmental Studies was renamed the Department of Geography, Environment and Population and is part of the School of Social Sciences in the Faculty of Arts. It offers programs that explore issues such as climate change, global migration and urban development. 
Professors of Geography
- Professor Graham Henry Lawton, BA, BEd (Melb), MA (Oxf), FASSA, Reader-in-Charge 1951-1958; Professor 1959-1977 (Emeritus Professor 1978)
- Professor Gwendoline Fay Gale, AO, BA, PhD, FASSA, 1978-1990 (Emeritus Professor 1990)
- Professor Graeme Hugo, BA (Hons) (Adel), MA (Flin), PhD (ANU), FASSA, 1992-2015.
1. Adapted from A History of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Adelaide. University of Adelaide Press. Chapter 7, "Geography, Environment and Population at the University of Adelaide, 1904–2012". Nick Harvey.
2.Taken from University of Adelaide Archives Provenance Record - UAR 0269, 0637 and 0665.
Succeeding OrganisationDepartment of Geographical and Environmental Studies
Ralph Tate - University - Question of the substitution of the subject Physiography for Physical Geography
George Sutherland - Adelaide - Will undertake Teaching and Examining in Geography for Commercial Education
A D Gillespie - Guildford Grammar School - Concerning Textbooks in Physical Geography in Junior Public Examination
Archdeacon George Henry Farr - Vice-Chancellor - Whitmore Square Adelaide - Authorises Appointment Professor Tate as Examiner in Geography for Junior Public Examination