The Department of Economic Geography was opened at the Faculty of Geology and Geography, Kharkov State University in October 1934. Staff of the department was formed based on three components: the geographical faculty of Kharkov Institute of Education, staff closed in 1934 Ukrainian Research Institute of geography and cartography, as well as their own trained scientific personnel. The first department was: V.P. Anisimov (1934 - 1935 years.), I.I. Lando (1935 - 1937 years.), G.A. Vankov (1937 - 1940 years.), F.N. Trypilets ( 1940 - 1941, 1945 - 1973 years.).
At the end of 1930th F.N. Trypilets, M.V. Piatigorsky, O.T. Vashchenko, P.I. Solonov, O.M. Chehoryan, M.P. Demchenko defended their theses in economic geography. The main area of scientific work of this period were economic and geographic characteristics of regions of the USSR.
In 1940 F.N. Trypilets headed the department of economic geography, who defended his thesis on "Economic and geographic characteristics Dnipropetrovsk region" in 1938, he became an assistant professor in 1939.
Scientific activity of another famous Ukrainian economic geographer – O.T. Vashchenko is related with Kharkiv region in 1930th. PhD student of the Department of Economic Geography, Kharkov University O.T Vashchenko defended his thesis on "Economic and geographic characteristics of Kyiv region" in 1938, from 1939 he had been working as an assistant professor of the Department of Economic Geography, Kharkov University. After the end of the Great Patriotic War in 1945 the Department of Economic Geography in Lviv University was created thanks to O.T. Vashchenko, which he headed until 1984, he was the founder of Lviv economic and geographical school.
After the end of Great Patriotic War associate professors M.V. Piatigorsky, O.M. Chehoryan, M.P. Demchenko returned to Kharkiv for teaching and training activities. They were at the origins of economic geography in Kharkiv in 1930th years. In 1946 head of the Department of Economic Geography again became Associate Professor F.N. Trypilets, who headed it until 1973.
In the postwar years, especially in the 1950th, graduates of the university and pedagogical institute of prewar and postwar years joined the Kharkiv generation of economic geographers: D.T. Hook (1946), T.M. Trypilets, A.B. Krasilschikova (1952), M.F. Kolomiets (1954 g.), G.M. Poberezhna (1955) E.O. Maykovska (1957). In the late 1950th T.M. Trypilets, G.M. Poberezhna, M.F. Kolomiets defended their dissertations.
In the 1950th scientists of the Department conducted economic and geographic research on southern regions of Ukraine due to building of hydraulic structures in the basin of the Dnieper. Regional economic and geographic research in the 1950 – 1960th were aimed at studying mainly natural resources, population and economy of Left-Bank Ukraine, Donetsk-Dnipro economic region, and Kharkiv region.
At the end of 1960th graduates of Kharkiv University joined staff of the department: A.P. Golikov, V.M. Kravchenko, O.D. Yakushev, V.A. Chaychenko, in the early 1970th – L.G . Panasenko, V.I. Redin. In the early 1970th PhD theses defended A.P. Golikov, V.M. Kravchenko, O.D. Yakushev, at the end of 1970th – V.P. Blagov who have made a significant contribution to the research development. All theses were defended at Moscow State University, where many graduates enrolled in PhD school.
From 1973 to 1998 head of the department of economic geography was being A.P. Golikov, who graduated from the Faculty of Geology and Geography, Kharkov University in 1961, he studied in PhD school at the Department of Economic Geography at Moscow University and defended his thesis on "Regionalization of water management and rationalization of water resources (illustrated by North East Ukraine)" in 1971. In 1983 A.P. Golikov defended his doctoral thesis on "The territorial organization of water economy of the USSR", becoming the first Doctor of Science in Economic Geography not only in history of the Department of Economic Geography, Kharkiv University, but only in Left-Bank Ukraine.
In 1970th the Department worked on the research topic "The district territorial-production complex of the the North East of USSR". Economic geographers emphasized on problems of location mashing building complex, population and labor resources, transport and communications, water complex, natural-resource potential.
Mathematical methods in research became to use widely. The department introduced a teaching course "Mathematical methods in economic geography". One of the first books on mathematical methods in geography, published in Ukraine, was a work by A.P.Holikov "Mathematical methods in economic geography" (1974). Theoretical and methodological issues of the geographical forecasting were developed by V.M. Kravchenko. In 1979 A.P. Golikov and I.G. Chervanov issued a tutorial "Mathematical modeling of spatial research in geography".
Processes of greening appeared in economic geography. Environmental aspects covered in studies of water management systems (A.P. Golikov, L.S. Shulzhenko), land resources (V.I. Redin).
At the end of the 1970th social component began to form in economic geography. Publications arose on the problems of small and medium sized cities in the region (V.P. Blagov, L.G. Panasenko), labor recourses (G.E. Danylevych, V.A. Chaychenko), territorial aspects of vocational education (O.G. Dejneka) pendulum migration in Kharkiv agglomeration (L.G. Panasenko). In 1980th researchers of the department became to study problems of territorial organization of the service sector (S.O. Yurchenko), of recreation and tourism development (V.I. Redin).
Among the outstanding graduates of that period were Sergey Sonko, now DSc. in Geography, head of the Department of Ecology and Life Safety in Uman National University of Horticulture; A.G. Deineka, PhD in Geography, DSc. in Economics, head of the Department of Transport Management, Ukrainian State Academy of Railway Transport.
Changing geopolitical conditions after the Soviet collapse and formation independent Ukraine, economic and geographical situation of Kharkiv region in the new state need to expand existing and establish new economic ties of the region with the countries were factors in the formation a new research area – international economic relations. In 1993 the Department of Economic Geography of Kharkiv University was called – Department of human geography and international economic relations. Research in geography of foreign countries dealt with Y.P. Gritsak, P.A. Chernomaz, problems of international economics and international economic relations – M.V. Naidenova.
Equally important areas were regional studies at the department. In 1993 a group of authors from the Faculty of Geology and Geography, Kharkov University, edited by prof. A.P. Golikov and prof. O.L. Sidorenko published the book "Kharkiv region reissued in 1997.
In March 1994 the Republican interregional scientific-practical conference "Regions in independent Ukraine: search for the optimal development strategy" was held at the initiative of prof. A.P. Golikov and active participation of the Department of Human Geography and International Economic Relations of Kharkiv University
A monograph of the same title was published to the conference, authors of the monograph were scientists, lecturers, PhD students from a number of universities and research institutions in Ukraine.
The growth of the crisis that engulfed all aspects of life in Ukraine in the second half of the 1990th, could not affect the science development in the region. In 1998 the major "International Economic Relations" was opened at the Faculty of Economics and the Department of International Economy and International Economic Relations was created at that faculty in Kharkov University, which professor A.P. Golikov headed. It significantly undermined the scientific potential of the department and led to the loss of state budget scientific topics, postgraduate school for training scientific staff, it caused the threat of extinction this scientific direction and educational specialty in Kharkiv University.
The way out from the crisis was revival the Department of Human Geography and Regional Studies headed by prof. O.K. Kuzin in 2001, and since 2006 – prof. Ludmila Niemets (she defended her doctoral thesis in the specialty "Economic and social geography" on the topic "Socio-geographic basis for the Ukraine's transition strategy to a model of sustainable development" in a specialized academic council of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv in 2004. Scientific training experts in a post-graduate school was resumed, process of forming new young team of the department began mainly due to its graduates.
Under supervision prof. L.M. Niemets Doctoral student K.Y. Sehida defended her doctoral thesis (2017), PhD students and applicants M.Y. Vysochin (2007), Y.Y. Zavoloka (2008), G.A. Barkova (2007), Y.I. Kandyba (2009), L.V. Kliuchko (2010), D.V. Shiyan (2012), K.Y. Sehida, N.V. Moshtakova (2011), A.A. Nosyrev (2012), V.V. Pankratieva (2014), Y.V. Vasilevska (2014), E.Y. Telebeneva (2015) defended their PhD theses; PhD students O.S. Suptelo, M.O. Logvinova are working at their theses.
In 2006 K.A. Niemets defended his doctoral thesis in the specialty "Human Geography" on the topic "Human-geographical bases of informational development of social and geographical systems" in the Specialized Academic Council of Kiev University. Under supervision prof. K.A. Niemts doctoral student P.V. Shukanov (2013), PhD students and applicants O.G. Kornus (2009), P.A. Virchenko (2009), O.G. Kuleshova (2010), G.E. Dudkina (2012), O.M. Samoylov (2012), S.A. Otechko (2013), V.V. Grushka (2014), T.G. Pohrebskyy (2015), P.O. Kobylin (2017) defended their doctoral and PhD theses; PhD students A.V. Mazurova, K.O. Kravchenko are working at their theses.
As well as under supervision of prof. S.V. Kostrikov PhD student N.V. Dobrovolska (2014) defended her thesis, PhD student O.S. Chuev are working at his thesis. Under supervision prof. K.V. Mezentsev applicants I.A. Skryl (2011), N.A. Serokurova (2013) defended their PhD theses.
In 2014 the D.Sc. in Geography, Professor K. Niemets received the title of Honored Professor of the Karazin University.
In 2015 head of the Department of Human Geography and Regional Studies, D.Sc. in Geography, prof. L. Niemets was awarded the Order of Princess Olga (the III degree) by the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko for significant contribution to socio-economic, scientific-technical, cultural and educational development of Ukraine, significant professional achievements and dedication to the Ukrainian people.
Since 2015, the Department has intensified international activities, in particular in terms of academic mobility of faculty, postgraduate students, and students under the Erasmus + program. Contracts were concluded with the University of Oradea (Romania), the University of Girona (Spain), the University of Tallinn (Estonia).
In 2016 a prize named after V.N Karazin of the III degree was awarded to D.Sc. in Geography, professor K.A. Niemets and PhD in Geography, Associate Professor K. Sehida. In 2017 the V.N. Karazin III degree was awarded to D.Sc. in Geography, Professor S. Kostrikov.
In 2018 the delegation of the University of Tallinn visited the Department of Human Geography and Regional Studies, headed by rector Professor Tiit Land.
In 2018 D.Sc. in Geography, Professor Liudmyla Niemets received the title of Honored Professor of the Karazin University.