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 Location Durham


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To critically explore different ways of theorising politics and the political geographically.
  • To introduce students to advanced conceptual debates in the academic field of political geography.
  • To develop with students their theoretical and conceptual understandings of the relations between politics and space and between politics and geography.
  • To encourage students to critically engage with contemporary political-geographical issues.


  • Theorising contemporary geopolitics and the dynamics of political space through key concepts, such as:
  • Biopolitics, security and violence;
  • Imaginations, performances, representations, 'acts' of politics;
  • States, territory, sovereignty, democracy;
  • Borders, assemblages, technologies, crossings;
  • Citizenship, cosmopolitanism, hospitality, the politics of belonging;
  • Configurations of sexuality, race, gender, nation, class and ethnicity.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On successful completion of the module students will be able to:
  • Understand key conceptual and theoretical debates in contemporary academic political geography.
  • Critically evaluate key concepts in political geography such as power, territory, space and security, as well as the relationship between them.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of contemporary approaches to global geopolitics.
  • Understand a range of critical approaches to geographical conceptualisations of the political.
  • Understand how our approaches to global geopolitics enable and disable different political possibilities.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On successful completion of the module students will be able to:
  • Evaluate and apply critical theoretical and conceptual approaches to political geography.
  • Think critically about the use of key concepts and theories in understanding contemporary global geopolitics and political-geographical issues.
Key Skills:
  • At the end of this module, students are expected to be able to:
  • Demonstrate a variety of communication skills including: evaluating and synthesising information from a range of sources including film, novels, academic texts and governmental reports; presenting their findings and analysis in a workshop environment; researching, structuring and writing academic essays; responding, engaging and commenting on each others’ work in the context of the workshops.
  • Demonstrate a capacity to reflect critically on the themes introduced in the course: to engage in depth with academic texts and other texts presented as part of the course (film, novels, governmental reports); to identify key arguments in a text and be able to analyse the claims; to evaluate the evidence that different texts offer; to make a judgement about whether the evidence is convincing and persuasive; to make judgements about the strengths and weaknesses of an argument in relation to the questions put forward as part of the course.
  • Demonstrate a capacity to evaluate and build on academic performance: through the formative and summative assessments; responding to feedback; managing time effectively; and synthesising knowledge and information from a range of sources encountered as part of the course.

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

  • The lectures will introduce students to the concepts, theories and contemporary issues of political geography and global geopolitics.
  • Small group discussion in workshops will allow students to work through theoretical understandings introduced in lectures and apply such understandings to contemporary examples.
  • Examination and coursework will test critical understanding of concepts and critical thinking.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 15 Varies 2 hours 30
Workshops 4 Varies 2 hours 8
Film Showings 2 Varies 2 hours 4
Preparation and Reading 158
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Exam Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seen exam (Questions will be released in advance) 1.5 hours 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Coursework Essay max 5 sides A4 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment is provided through feedback on a critical commentary on one theorist covered in the module prior to summative coursework set in Term 1. The formative critical commentary should be a maximum of 2 sides of A4.

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