The teaching and research interests of the geographers involved in BIGSAS are focused on the description, explanation, evaluation and planning of social, cultural and economic development processes. Their fields of competence cover both urban regions or densely built-up areas, and rural areas. Fundamental factors and mechanisms affecting regional development, in particular the interaction of social, cultural, economic, ecological and political processes, are investigated from both a conceptional and an empirical perspective.
Particular fields of competence lie in the areas of of geographical development studies, globalization, migration and vulnerability to natural disasters, tourism, urban and regional development, food security, town planning with a special focus on informal settlements, refugee and migration studies. The regional competences are spread over the whole of the African continent.
In addition, ZENEB (the Bayreuth centre for natural risks and development) is anchored in the department of Geography. ZENEB sees itself as a network for sociological risk and disaster studies in developing countries. ZENEB's regional focus is on Africa, due to the interdisciplinary focus on African studies at the University of Bayreuth, which makes it the biggest institution of this kind in Germany and also one of the outstanding research centres in Europe.