Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2018/19 Module Cap 35 Location Durham
Tied to L702
Tied to L703
Tied to L704
Tied to L705
Tied to LA01
Tied to LA02
Tied to LMV0
Tied to LMV1
Tied to LMV2
Tied to LMVA
Tied to QRV0
Tied to QRVA
Tied to CFG0
Tied to FGC0
Tied to CFG1
Tied to CFG2


  • GEOG2472 Social Research in Geography and GEOG2581 Political Geography


  • NONE

Excluded Combination of Modules



  • To enable students to learn about the relationship between territory and geopolitics in a variety of contexts
  • To provide theoretical background to the understanding of territorial issues and contemporary geopolitics
  • To provide students with an understanding of contemporary disputes and agreements concerning territory, borders and geopolitics and to contribute to students' development of an analytical perspective that recognises the material basis of geopolitical power and contestation
  • To apply key concepts through field-based research in a highly contested urban environment in order to develop a specialist understanding of these processes


  • The module will focus on:
  • The nature of territory in a material world:
  • How have territorial divisions emerged as the foundational template for geopolitical control and contestation?
  • How is our notion of territory based on understandings of the world as scientifically knowable and geophysically stable?
  • How has geopolitical knowledge and practice been premised on understandings of states as reliant on nature?
  • Geo-politics: constructing territory in solid spaces:
  • How has political contestation been premised on metaphysical idealisations of the connection between soil and nation?
  • What role has the construction of physical barriers played in geopolitical narratives and struggles?
  • How have monuments and memorials served to reproduce connections between place and politics?
  • Changes of state: constructing territory in fluid spaces:
  • How is the notion of geopolitical territory founded on a unidimensional distinction between land and water?
  • How are territorial understandings of geopolitics challenged by climate change and elements that transcend the land-water divide?
  • How is territorial control applied by states to the fluid spaces of the ocean and atmosphere?
  • Geopolitics and territory in the city:
  • How are geopolitical conflicts played out in contestations over urban space?
  • What is the relationship between architecture and military attempts at engineering terrain?
  • What is the potential for urban conflict as a means for challenging geopolitical discourses?
  • The field course will consist of a week in the Jerusalem-Ramallah metropolis and will involve:
  • Introduction to the field site covering themes developed in lectures
  • Student-led project work
  • Summative group presentations

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the notion of territory and contemporary geopolitics
  • Demonstrate knowledge of a range of territorial issues, their representation, and their influence on politics
  • Use case study material effectively in relation to learning outcomes 1 and 2
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Critically assess and debate a number of current perspectives within political geography and geopolitics
  • To critically appraise the development of ideas of geopolitics and to relate these to conceptual debates in Geography
Key Skills:
  • To show an understanding of historical changes in ideas and concepts
  • Demonstrate a variety of communication skills, including; the ability to plan and execute an effective and well argued essay, and develop ideas and concepts in written work; the ability to present research findings, discuss initial analysis and respond to questions through group presentations
  • Demonstrate a capacity to carry out field research: by keeping notes of the findings; learning to make sense of those notes through an engagement with academic texts; learning to prepare for and structure a diary of fieldwork; to engage critically with what it means to do fieldwork and with the spatial and temporal limits of that research work
  • To work effectively as part of a team both in preparing for the field and in the field

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures will provide necessary breadth of coverage, overview and study guide required by the aims and objectives. These will be supported by additional reading lists, which will enable the student to build on information provided in the lectures
  • Practicals following the lectures will provide students opportunity to discuss and develop ideas covered in the lectures
  • The residential fieldtrip will reinforce student understanding of theoretical approaches and show how they can be applied. It will also provide training and experience in project design, research and analysis, while developing students individual and group working skills
  • Students will be required to submit an individual report on their group project for summative assessment. Their ability to interpret and apply theoretical concepts to empirical examples and their ability to explain things clearly and support their argument with appropriate reference to the general literature will be tested through an examination and the field-based project report. The report also assesses skills of research design, implementation and analysis. The summative group presentation will assess the ability to communicate emergent research findings, discuss analysis and respond to questions
  • The 1 hour seen examination will enable students to demonstrate their ability to critically evaluate approaches to the study of territory and geopolitics, relate those approaches to some contemporary issues surrounding territory and geopolitics and demonstrate their knowledge of case studies
  • Students will receive formative feedback on group field research proposal presentations held in Term 2.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 7 6 in Term 1; 1 in Term 3 2 hours 14
Lectures (Fieldtrip Health & Safety briefing) 2 Term 2 2 hours 4
Practicals 1 Term 1 1 hour 1
Tutorials 3 Term 2 2 hours 6
Field Course 1 Easter Vacation 7 full days on site, plus travel 56
Student Preparation & Reading Time 119
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Group presentation in the field Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Group presentation in the field. Slides and presentation content to be assessed 20 mins 100% None
Component: Individual project report Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Individual project report using course material to analyse field research 8 x sides A4 100% None
Component: Unseen Examination Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen Examination 1 hour 100% None

Formative Assessment:

In Term 2, student groups will deliver formative proposals for their field projects. Feedback will enable students to enhance their summative presentations and reports. Feedback will also provide general guidance on the ways in which they are blending conceptual knowledge with the particulars of the case-study area, which in turn is a key skill to be assessed in the final exam.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University