Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2020/21 Module Cap


  • None.



Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The module aims to provide an in-depth appreciation of the emergence and deployment of risk techniques as a means of securing the uncertain future. The perspective is interdisciplinary, drawing on work in human geography, security studies, the sociology of risk, science and technology studies, as well as legal and commercial risk imaginaries. On completion of the module, students will have substantive theoretical and empirical knowledge of the specific societal emergence of the problem of security and the ‘solution’ of risk management.


  • Risk and the taming of change
  • Making the world secure: a history of risk techniques
  • Thinking uncertainty: question of ethics and responsibility
  • Precautionary logics
  • Globalizing Risk
  • Security and Society case study 1: Terrorism
  • Security and Society case study 2: Technology
  • Security and Society case study 3: Citizenship
  • Security and Society case study 4: Risk infrastructures
  • Security and Society case study 5: Surveillance

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To understand and critically analyze the emergence and deployment of a range of risk techniques.
  • To interpret and evaluate different approaches to the problem of risk, and to assess these in relation to a number of specific cases.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To demonstrate an understanding of the historical and context specificity of the problem of risk.
  • To apply the ideas covered in the course in order to develop analyses of security problems approached via risk techniques.
  • To present the findings of their specific analyses in both oral and written presentation formats.
Key Skills:
  • Advanced individual learning and study.
  • Team work in a workshop format.
  • The ability to debate ideas, while recognizing and respecting the viewpoints of others.
  • Written communication.
  • Verbal presentation.
  • Analysis of text, visual and media materials.

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

  • The module is divided into three parts. Each of these will have a series of staff-led seminars, one workshop, and a tutorial. The seminars will start with a presentation by a member of staff, followed by discussion on the basis of (a) pre-allocated readings, and (b) questions and comments in response to the staff-led introduction. Where appropriate, film and/or television documentary will be used in the seminars to support learning. Two of the workshops will be student-led, working through materials provided in case study packs. The other two workshops will be used for oral presentatons. The first oral presentation (term 1) will be formative and used to develop research questions for the report. The second oral presentation (term 2) will be summative and will focus on understanding risk and security literatures. The tutorials will follow the seminars and workshop in each part of the module and will consolidate learning from that part and provide guidance on reading for the next part. They provide a forum for the summative assessment. For some students the tutorial support may be by email/telephone/webcam/video conference.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops 4 2 in Michaelmas, 2 in Epiphany 3 hours 12
Seminars 10 Fortnightly from week 1 3 hours 30
Tutorials 4 2 in Michaelmas, 2 in Epiphany 1 hour 4
Self-directed learning 254
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Research report on risk, security and society Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research report on risk, security and society 4000 words 100% Yes
Component: Oral presentation Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Oral Presentation 15 minutes 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Students will present their research questions for the ‘report on risk, security and society’ at a workshop. They will receive formative feedback from their colleagues (spoken comments following presentation) and from the tutor (written comments following presentation). They may incorporate this feedback into the editing of the written report before final submission. NB: formative work is a compulsory part of this module.

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