Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 3 Credits 10 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Any Level 2 Geography module


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To develop an empirical, analytical, and conceptual grounding for understanding and engaging with claims of justice and regarding human impacts on the planet
  • To enhance understanding of the normative challenges of environmental politics in complex systems, and in the context of inequality and oppression
  • To encourage critical reflection on the sites and scales that contribute to environmental inequality


  • Humans are radically transforming the planet. This module engages the challenges of living with others, ethics and politics under the uneven and unequal distribution of goods and harms that arise from anthropogenic impacts on the Earth. It examines the inequalities and the potential for achieving justice through reparations jointly seek social and ecological justice.
  • The first half of the module considers considers the practices forged by oppressed communities in environments not of their choosing. Through a series of lectures and student-led dialogue the module connects contemporary, planetary-scale forces and the novel environmental challenges they create, to the historical conditions they are variously premised upon and/or exacerbate. We will consider together topics such as: climate justice movements for reparations, environmental repossession, Indigenous knowledges, the rights of nature, and modes of thinking in novel environments.
  • The second half of the module is comprised of a set of workshops that consider in greater depth the challenges, prospects, and potential for achieving justice through a variety of cases. Cases may vary year on year. However, they are always designed to take up contemporary issues in environmental justice and to examine current trends and issues. These may include, for instance, the rights of nature, the role of land defenders in environmental politics, environmental catastrophes, and anti-colonial practices of knowledge production.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On successful completion of the module students will be able to:
  • Cogently articulate how planetary challenges are connected to social phenomena in historical, empirical, and cultural terms
  • Identify and evaluate the judgments used to reduce social and environmental complexity in claims about the political possibilities for environemntal governance
  • Compare inequality different movements and counter-movements that have responded to demands for environmental justice
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On successful completion of the module students will be able to:
  • Think comprehensively about the normative judgments that affect claims regarding the state of the planet and efforts to respond to them
  • Detail the key conceptual concerns and innovations that have been developed by communities seeking justice amid social and environmental violence
  • Evaluate how the nature of claims regarding human impacts on the planet are mobilised by different communities to retain or confront social power
Key Skills:
  • On successful completion of the module students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate conceptual and analytic communication skills in written form
  • Compare concrete sites of inequality
  • Structure and refine complex research topics and issues into clear and actionable projects

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

  • Part one of the module involves a series of lectures (including in-class exercises and discussions) designed to provide students with a conceptual vocabulary and empirical understanding of global enviornmental justice. The first half of the module provides conceptual context for the more applied aspects of the workshops in the second half.
  • Workshops allow students to actively collaborate, shape, and question key geographical and political topics regarding human transformations of the planet. In the workshops, concrete case studies are used to provide entry points to key political themes of: (1) Representing, (2) Knowing, (3) Acting, and, (4) Reconciling.
  • Through individual and group work the workshops allow students to develop conceptual and analytical frameworks in preparation for the final research paper.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 6 Weekly - first half of module 2 hours 12
Workshops 4 Weekly - second half of module 2 hours 8
Preparation and Reading 80
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay Max 6 sides A4 100%

Formative Assessment:

There is no mandatory formative assignment in this module. Students will receive oral feedback through in-class exercises in lectures. Further feedback will be provided in response to individual and group exercises in the four workshops.

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