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 explore the multiple perspectives and scales through which water is understood
  • To interrogate the implications of taking a multiple perspective approach to the global contemporary challenges in water use and governance
  • To connect insights from a multiple perspectives approach to everyday encounters with water


  • This specialised module will meet the overall aims through a mix of conceptual and case study material. Only 2.5% of the Earth's water is fresh-water, and 98.8% of that water is stored in ice and groundwater. Water plays an important role in the world economy as it is vital for human well-being; water and its availability is a major social and economic concern and it has been estimated that by 2025 more than half of the world population will be facing water-based vulnerability. Safe drinking water is essential to humans and other life-forms and there is increasing pressure to conserve our environments to support more sustainable wildlife and water use. Academic and policy communities proliferate multiple and competing understandings of the ways in which we engage with water in our everyday lives. The module will reflect on these different ways in which water is perceived and explore how bringing some of these together may bring new insights to addressing the very real challenges facing our ‘waterworlds’ in the future. This will include discussion of themes of sustainability, ownership, cultural and managerial uses of water.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
  • Bring a critical approach to reviewing academic and policy literatures on water
  • Reflect on the different kinds of values adhering to water in our everyday worlds
  • Realise the opportunities and challenges in mobilising an inter-disciplinary understanding of water related issues
  • Understand the complexities of connections in flows and consumption of water across different scales of analysis
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
  • Synthesise information across different perspectives (political, economic, cultural, emotional, biological, managerial etc.)
  • Explore the ways apparent different scales of analysis interconnect
  • Critically examine the hidden assumption and possible vested interests of specific framings in different academic and policy approaches.
Key Skills:
  • On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
  • Show critical written analytical skills by evaluating concomitant factors within the ‘waterworld’
  • Manipulate and communicate the language and arguments across different (social and technical) academic perspectives (for example what changes in well-being may result from a technical intervention in the ‘waterworld’)
  • Integrate complex themes relating to water availability, provision and use with multi-scalar arguments (i.e. ranging from a personal to wider global perspective)

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

  • Lectures will draw from substantive human and physical geography literature and encompass the two broad themes (water and well-being) around which the module is based. Lectures will also incorporate case studies to illustrate the theories and concepts presented with particular reference to current topical issues and new research areas for water and well-being.
  • Tutorials. Students will be supported in their own learning by attending two tutorials and that will concentrate upon aspects of human and physical geography respectively. Tutorials will allow students the opportunity to explore key literature in depth and develop critical analysis skills by discussing the material they have read in a small group setting.
  • The workshop will be framed by several key themes and students will chose aspects they wish to explore from a list of topics. This will provide students with an opportunity to work in small groups to undertake in-depth research on aspects of water and well-being, develop and deliver a debate and allow them to develop presentation skills and the ability to construct arguments and counter arguments.
  • Formative Assessment. (Critical evaluation) The formative assessment will take place during the workshop session focusing on the ability of the students to work as a group work and to present a 15 minute debate developing arguments for and against their chosen topic question as described above.
  • Summative Assessment. The essay topics will be informed by themes covered in the lectures and will require the students to engage at depth with both human and physical geography literature and undertake a critical evaluation of the material they select and demonstrate an understanding of their chosen topic using case studies and examples where appropriate.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 8 Weekly 1.5 hours 12
Workshop 1 Week 4 2 hours 2
Tutorials 2 Fortnightly 1 hour 2
Reading and preparation 84
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay from a choice of four topics Max 5 pages A4 100%

Formative Assessment:

Group work to host a 15 minute debate from a range of topics to which your peers will contribute.

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