Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 3 Credits 10 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Any Level 2 GEOG module


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide students the opportunity to identify and evaluate how the concepts of ‘race’ and ‘nature’ interact and organise the differential experience of place and space;
  • To identify and analyse the broad historical phenomena i.e., slavery and colonialism, that have contributed to contemporary geographies of race and racism;
  • To give students the chance to situate their own self-understanding in relation to ‘race’, ‘nature’ and place; and
  • To apply the critical literatures on race and nature to real-world geographic phenomena, including climate change, electoral politics, and the Anthropocene.


  • Race, nature and crisis will focus on the way that ‘race’ continues to organise the experience of nature, place and space, even when it is often said that race is no longer a legitimate category for understanding contemporary social and political phenomenon in the West. It provides students with an in-depth survey of several different streams of thought current in human geography that connect the themes of race, nature and crisis. The module will help students disentangle the messy world of racial politics through an engagement with several real world case studies, including indigenous peoples resistance to pipeline development, black incarceration, and migration. While not a guide on how best to eliminate racism, the module is policy-relevant as it offers important tools for thinking critically about the racial dimensions of numerous contemporary policy issues. The module will combine case studies with in-depth theoretical material drawn predominantly from critical race theory, postcolonialism, poststructuralism and posthumanism. Indicative concepts addressed in the module include: racial naturalism, racial historicism, post-racialism, race and gender, neoliberalism, Blackness, Whiteness, dehumanisation, sovereignty, climate change, the Anthropocene.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Identify and critically evaluate how the concepts of ‘race’ and ‘nature’ interact to organise the differential experience of place and space.
  • Identify and analyse the broad historical phenomena i.e., slavery and colonialism, that have contributed to contemporary geographies of race and racism.
  • Demonstrate advanced level understanding of what is meant by and the significance of the idea that ‘race’ and ‘nature’ are socially constructed.
  • Understand a range of advanced theoretical concepts and principles that geographers use for making sense of race, nature and humanism.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Identify and explain many of the ways in which ‘race’ and ‘nature’ continue to organise contemporary geographical phenomena.
  • Appreciate and critically reflect on a range of concepts and theoretical approaches for understanding ‘race’ and ‘nature’.
  • Apply and evaluate the appropriateness of these concepts and theoretical approaches in order to understand real world geographical phenomena.
  • Synthesise interdisciplinary literatures on race, nature and place in order to provide interpretive insights about contemporary geography.
  • Position themselves and their own experiences in relation to geographic debates about ‘race’ and ‘nature’.
Key Skills:
  • Demonstrate capacity and sensitivity for writing about 'race' and 'nature'.
  • Demonstrate a capacity to reflect critically and creatively on the relations between module concepts and a range of real world problems and issues.
  • Demonstrate the ability to synthesise information and develop an argument on contemporary issues and problems.

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

  • Lectures will introduce students to the main module themes of ‘race’, ‘nature’ and ‘crisis’, and how these concepts interact with one another in support of contemporary and historical phenomena, such as white supremacy, white nationalism slavery, colonialism and imperialism. Emphasis will be given to how these concepts have been dealt with by geographers and those in related fields of study. Lectures will draw from relevant case study material.
  • Tutorials: Tutorials will give students a chance to discuss module themes in small groupswith a focus on short student presentations and student-led discussions. Emphasis will be placed on encouraging students to develop their own self-understanding of the module themes and how to apply their learning to assessed work.
  • Summative Assessment: The summative assessment is designed to give students a chance to critically reflect on the module themes by answering a question set several weeks in advance of the due date.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 8 Weekly 1.5 hours 12
Tutorials 2 Periodic 1 hour 2
Student Reading and Preparation 86
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Essay Max 5xA4 100%

Formative Assessment:

Students will lead group discussions on relevant papers and will receive staff and peer feedback on their understanding.

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