Department of Geography

The faces of landscape

The workshop “The Faces of Landscape” was implemented some years ago within the context of promoting the internationalisation of geography studies and reinforcing their applicability. It is offered as an optional subject worth 6 credits for 3rd and 4th year students of the Bachelor's degree in Geography, Town and Country Planning and Environmental Management. Since its inception, the subject has varied, as it is subsidised by European collaboration grants with other universities. Below, we offer you a summary of the current project, which consists of a 10-day trip to Morocco, this year in its second edition, in addition to a summary of former projects organised under the subject carried out in countries like Finland, Poland and Slovakia

More information on the subject


Del 14 al 24 d’octubre de 2018 un grup de 10 estudiants i 2 professors del Departament de Geografia van participar en un viatge d’estudi al Marroc en col·laboració amb geògrafs de la Universitat Abdelmalek Essaâdi de Tetuan i de la Universitat Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah de Fes en el marc de l’assignatura The Faces of Landscape / Les Cares del Paisatge que s’imparteix des de fa 12 anys en diversos marcs d’internacionalització dels estudis de Geografia.

Com és sabut el viatge ha estat sempre un instrument fonamental del coneixement geogràfic des de temps immemorials i en aquest cas es recupera en el marc d’un model d’assignatura participativa i amb una interpretació holística del coneixement geogràfic que incorpora tant la dimensió humana com física dels complexos i diversos paisatge marroquins. El trajecte es va iniciar amb una visita a la mítica ciutat de Tànger al nord del Marroc i el reconeixement de la costa ibèrica des del Marroc. El segon dia el centre d’atenció va ser el desenvolupament econòmic i les transformacions paisatgístiques a la perifèria de Tànger amb una especial atenció al cas del megaport de Tanger Med i els creixements urbanístic. Tot plegat acompanyat per una visita guiada a la perifèria de l’enclavament de Ceuta i la dinàmica i canviant costa de Martil i finalment a l’antiga capital del protectorat espanyol, Tetuan. El tercer dia l’atenció es va centrar en la visita guiada a la ciutat de Chefchaouen, considerada la perla blava del Rif. Posteriorment el centre d’atenció es va traslladar a la ciutat de Fes, capital espiritual del Marroc, i la seva extraordinària medina que té la consideració de patrimoni mundial de la humanitat. A continuació va ser el moment del patrimoni natural Atles mitjà, la ciutat d’Azrou i els boscos de cedres (Cedrus atlantica) i les poblacions de macacos (Macaca sylvanus) per passar a travessar els altiplans volcànics i àrids camí del primer contacte amb el gran Atles tot resseguint les Gorgues du Ziz. Un paisatges àrids que contrasten amb un del paisatges culturals més exuberants i complexos, els palmerars. Tot plegat camí d’un dels camps de dunes més espectaculars del país, Erg Chebbi. El retorn ens va portar fins una de les ciutats tradicionals més famoses de la regió el Ksar de Aït Ben Haddou que és el punt de partida per creuar novament el gran Atles pel coll de Tichka (2.260 m.) camí de Marrakesh capital turístic del Marroc que va centrar la nostra atenció fins el retorn a casa passats 11 intensos dies d’estudi i vivències.

La tasca i les contribucions dels estudiants amb la preparació de treballs temàtiques específiques sobre diversos aspectes i ciutats del Marroc han acabat de completar les aportacions del professorat marroquí. Uns nous coneixements que han de quedar definitivament consolidats amb l’elaboració d’un diari de viatge que ha de combinar tant el coneixement adquirit com les experiències compartides.

fotografia de grup

fotografia de grup a l'aeroport

Ksar de Aït Ben Haddou

The Faces of Landscape 2017 - 2018: Towards Low Carbon Societies in Joensuu, Finland.

The 2017 – 2018 edition of The Faces of Landscape, to being completed in Poznan last year, has returned to Joensuu this year within the framework of the European project Erasmus+ Towards Low Carbon Societies.

Between 4 and 16 February, two teachers and eight students from 3rd and 4th years of the bachelor's degree in Geography, Land Planning and Environment Management at the Universitat de Girona, took part in this project in the Finnish city of Joensuu.

Three academic institutions (University of Girona, University of Eastern Finland, Adam Michiewicz University) and organisations linked to territorial organisation have worked together with the aim of creating and promoting professionalizing educational structures to meet the challenge of progressing towards a low carbon society  in the area of land uses and landscape to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of climatic change.

group photo on an excursion with snowshoes

group photo in a snowy meadow

group in a cookery class

the audience during a talk

You can follow the 2017-18 version of The Faces of Landscape through the project’s different social networks accounts:

Former projects

The Faces of Landscape in Morocco

Once the European stint was completed, the subject moved to Africa. To discover a very different reality to the one that we are accustomed to, with landscapes full of contrasts and a very characteristic culture, over the course of 10 days in the first semester of 2015, “The Faces of Landscape” was carried out for the first time in Morocco. The 2015 edition was a success, will be repeated again in 2016.

 group photo strolling through the sand dunes in the desert with a camel

Participating pupils have to prepare an essay linked to an aspect of Morocco, which must also be presented orally to their classmates (for example, the protected spaces in Morocco, biogeography of Morocco, economic geography of Morocco, agriculture in Morocco, about some of the iconic areas: the Atlas mountain range, the Erg Chebbi dunes, the Rif, and so on; the evolution of the political situation, religion, the role of the Spanish protectorate, etc.). Furthermore, students must keep a travel diary/write up a personal report, summarising all the information/notes from talks and presentations made by colleagues in addition to the graphic elements that each student considers important: maps, photos, etc.

map of Morocco with a dotted line marking the itinerary of stops

2016 itinerary:

  • Thursday 21 April: TANGIER (teacher to be confirmed)
  • Friday 22 April: TETOUAN (teacher Chikhi and Boulifa, University of Tetouan)
  • Saturday 23 April: TETOUAN - CHEFCHAOUEN. (Ms. Fatima Bouchmal, curator of the historic citadel)
  • Sunday 24 April: CHEFCHAOUEN - FEZ 
  • Monday 25 April: FEZ (teacher Mohamed Laaouane, University of Fez)
  • Tuesday 26 April: FEZ - AZROU - IFRANE
  • Wednesday 27 April: IFRANE - MERZOUGA
  • Thursday 28 April: MERZOUGA - AIT BEN HADDOU
  • Friday 29 April: AIT BEN HADDOU – MARRAKESH
  • Saturday 20 April: MARRAKESH (teacher Hassan El Mbarki, University of Marrakesh)
  • Sunday 1 May: return (to Barcelona)


The Faces of Landscape 2016 in Morocco: a country of contrasts, an unforgettable experience

The Faces of Landscape, imparted as part of the Bachelor's Degree in Geography has been completed this year over the course of 10 days in Morocco, where enrolled students have discovered this African country.

The journey across Morocco as part of The Faces of Landscape he reached its conclusion. Header by professor Josep Vila and Carla Garcia, a doctoral student at the Department of Geography, the 10 enrolled pupils arrived in the African country on Thursday 21 May, atTangiers airport, to visit the city known as the Moroccan Babel given the wide variety of languages and cultures. Here, they experienced their initial contact with the reality of the country, and no less important, food: harira, couscous and tagine.

On the second day, three teachers from the University of Tétouan headed an interesting route from Tangiers to Tétouan, stopping on the way in one of the new planned cities to accommodate the labour required by the big industries in the north of Morocco, including Renault-Nissan. The great port infrastructures close the Strait of Gibraltar (Tanger Med), the city of Ceuta and the terrestrial border with Spain and the marshes of Martil, were just a few of the stops. 

In Tétouan, students enjoyed a thrilling visit to the MedinaOne of the ones best preserved in Morocco. Dinner was at the Casa de Espana, and breakfast in the Ensanche district, while at Hotel Africa, students could sample a relaxing tea and typical Moroccan whisky (tea with mint). The expedition set off towards Chefchaouen from the big Royal Palace of Mohammed VI, stopping on the way at some old Spanish barracks that presided over one of the great valleys of the Rif.

group photo

When they arrived in Chefchaouen, the 12 travellers were left amazed. The blue pearl of the Rif wholly lives up to its nickname. Fatima Bouchmal offers a tour of the citadel of the city, before showing students some of the most beautiful corners of the patchwork of blue alleys. In the afternoon, the students enjoyed wonderful panoramic views of the city from a Mosque.


The following day, on the way to Fez, they crossed the former border between the Spanish and French Protectorate, and traversed different agricultural areas offering amazing landscapes similar in many ways to those we are accustomed to at home. Having arrived in Fez, professor Mohamed Laaouane from the University of Fez offered a guided tour of the different streets and trade areas in the spiritual capital of Morocco; students visited traditional ironmongers, a balcony to look at the dye pits before treating the host to fried fish lunch on the outskirts of the biggest Medina in Morocco.

Leaving the flatlands behind, a new day started heading towards the Middle Atlas mountain range towards Ifrane National Park, home to the coolest area in Morocco. Once in French Switzerland, they discovered cedar forests, and more importantly, their hosts: the Barbary macaque. From Ifrane, the group headed off on the most spectacular journey on account of the amazing contrast on offer: the desert forests.

After crossing the oasis of the Valley of the Ziz, having arrived in Merzouga, Mohammed presented the local means of transport: camels. Once aboard, the 12 adventurers headed into the dunes of Erg Chebbi in Merzouga (Sahara Desert). They spent the night under a spectacular starry sky, with dunes as far as the eye could see. Finally, after watching the sun rise, it was time to head back on the camels to Merzouga before hitting the road with Halib, our driver.

landscape photo of dunes in the desert - at the bottom the group’s shadows can be seen on the desert sand

Once the group arrived in the province of Ouarzazate, they came across the largest Thermosolar Plant in the world, and after seeing the huge studies of African Hollywood, they arrived in Aït Ben Haddou to spend the night there and to explore the city of mud the following morning. On the way to Marrakesh, they crossed the High Atlas at Col du Tickha, at an altitude of 2,260 meters.

And so, the last city visited was touristic capital of Morocco, where Hassan El Mbarki, a professor at the University of Marrakesh, organised an interesting route. Finally, on Sunday morning after having discovered the main square, Djemà-el-Fna, and its touristic atmosphere, it was time to head home bringingthe best subject that according to the 10 students they have ever studied and will ever study, to a close.


Border landscape across Europe


In 2009-10, the project received support from an Erasmus Intensive Programme involving the University of Presov (Slovakia), consequently undergoing a change in format and name, going on to being called The Faces of Landscape. In spring 2010, geography students from the three universities completed a workshop, under the direction of professor Josep Vila, in Girona. The following year, the workshop was held in Joensuu (now known as the University of Eastern Finland) before being carried out at the University of Presov in 2011-12.

To get an idea of the activities carried out in editions held abroad, consult the following videos:

Landscape Workshops in Joensuu and Girona

Imparted as a joint optional subject as part of Geography studies at the University of Joensuu (Finland) and the Universitat de Girona, the subject was first offered in 2006-07 as a landscape workshop. For three years, students spent a week in Girona and another in Joensuu, completing fieldwork and analysing the evolution of the landscape from a historical point of view and with a comparative perspective.