Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module GEOG41315: Research Frontiers of Human Geography

Department: Geography

GEOG41315: Research Frontiers of Human Geography

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2020/21


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The aim of this module is to expose students to some of the emerging research in human geography being undertaken by staff at Durham Geography through a series of individual seminars delivered by academic staff, researchers, and postgraduates within the Department of Geography. The module allows students to examine a wide range of emergent research questions and problems, thereby ensuring that students are made aware of the spread of research ‘paradigms’ and theoretical positions in human geography and become informed of the latest thinking and ideas in their field of enquiry. At the same time, the module is designed to enhance a student’s generic skills in interpreting and critically analyzing research (through the production of a seminar critique) and in presenting oftentimes complex material (through an oral presentation).


  • The course will be organized around a series of seminars that complement and enhance the research priorities and frontiers of international geographical research in the Department of Geography. The specific topics are to be determined on a year-by-year basis in response to emerging research across the breadth of Human Geography research and will also, inevitably, be dependent upon the availability of academic staff and researchers at any given time. Each seminar will include a 50 minute academic paper or equivalent followed by a group discussion. With the research being very recent or indeed ongoing, there is no expectation that presenters will necessarily have a written paper to pre-circulate: indeed it will act as a challenge for us all to be able to think quickly on our feet when posing questions or contributing towards the subsequent discussion. We will doubtless be offered quite a variety of styles of presentation as well. As part of the progression through the module, students will select one seminar topic to explore in more depth in term 1 culminating in a written Seminar Critique. Students will then select a second seminar topic in term 2 which they will use as the basis for a seminar presentations delivered to the group.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will have in-depth knowledge of how research at the frontiers of human geography engages with and responds to the emergent practices and processes shaping the contemporary world
  • Students will have detailed knowledge of the latest thinking and ideas around one major theme and critically evaluate the difference geographical thought and research makes to how that theme is understood
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will be able to critically and creatively engage with research into a wide range of contemporary geographical issues
  • Students will be able to understand the limits and possibilities of various ways of presenting and discussing geographic research
Key Skills:
  • Students will develop skills in creating and using audio-visual material for specific audiences
  • Students will develop new presentation skills, including styles of delivery, the use of rhetoric and modes of presentation and argumentation
  • Students will enhance their skills in synthesising information, deliberating and responding critically and constructively to arguments and the use of evidence

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

  • Workshops, seminars and seminars with student responses

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshop 2 1 per term 2 hours 4
Research Frontiers Seminars - 1st term 6 Weekly 2 hours 12
Research Frontier Seminars - 2nd term 6 Weekly 2 hours 12
Seminar 4 End of module 3 hours 12
Self-directed learning 110
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Seminar Critique Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seminar Critique - based upon a seminar in the 1st term 2000 words 100% Yes
Component: Oral Presentation Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seminar Critque (Verbal) - based upon a seminar in the 2nd term 15 minutes 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Seminars include a considerable discussion component, and these discussions will provide for formative feedback on students’ responses to the seminars. Formative assessment will comprise of verbal feedback on & discussion of seminar critique plans.

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