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 Geography module


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To develop students’ understanding of the concept of everyday life, its history, and its use in social thought and research
  • To develop students’ understanding of attempts by artists and writers to grasp the nature and meaning of everyday life
  • To encourage critical reflection on, and appreciation of, the everyday lives of ourselves and others in a variety of geographical contexts
  • To develop students’ visual and field research skills through a practical photographic project


  • Why study everyday life? It seems such an unpromising topic for academic research or scholarly reflection. We tend to think of everyday life as mundane, ordinary, unremarkable and (therefore) uninteresting. Yet everyday life has been a rich source of inspiration for countless artists (e.g. Jan Vermeer, Edmund Hopper), writers (e.g. Marcel Proust, Leo Tolstoy, James Joyce, Alice Munro), dramatists (e.g. Anton Chekov, Alan Bennett), film-makers (e.g. Mike Leigh, Mira Nair) and photographers (e.g. Wing Young Huie, Martin Parr, Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen). By definition, for each of us it also accounts for most of our brief time on Earth. The challenge of understanding everyday life has been addressed by some of the foremost thinkers of the past 100 years, and their work reveals it to be more puzzling, more interesting and more important than you might imagine. Just because something is ordinary does not mean it is dull; just because something is usually unremarked does not mean it is unremarkable.
  • In this module we will explore the geographies and rhythms of everyday life through art, literature, social theory and social research. We will examine how different thinkers have understood the concept of everyday life, how researchers have studied its geographies, and how writers and artists have tried to grasp its meanings. We will also consider how power and politics shape and are shaped by everyday life, and debate its perils and possibilities.
  • During the module you will produce your own photographic portfolio on an aspect of everyday life, accompanied by a reflective written commentary drawing on your reading and the ideas discussed in class.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On successful completion of this module students will:
  • Understand how the concept of everyday life has been developed and used in social thought and research
  • Be familiar with a range of visual and literary portrayals of everyday life
  • Understand how geographers and other social researchers have studied everyday life in a variety of contexts
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On successful completion of this module students will:
  • Be able to evaluate and apply key concepts and approaches to the study of everyday life
  • Be able to appraise visual and literary approaches to everyday life
  • Be able to undertake observational field research using photography
Key Skills:
  • On successful completion of this module students will:
  • Be able to use photography to help communicate their understanding of the module’s ideas and subject matter
  • Be able to reflect critically on key concepts and topics, on their own field research practice, and on their own everyday practices

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

  • Lectures (incorporating class discussion) will be used to teach the development and use of the concept of everyday life, to familiarise students with a range of visual and literary portrayals, to provide examples of research on everyday life, and to advise students about the independent fieldwork and photography-based assessment.
  • Independent reading will enable students to deepen and broaden their understanding of these topics.
  • A photography workshop will provide students with advice on photography and an opportunity to practice.
  • Independent fieldwork will enable students to engage directly with the subject matter and complete the photography component of the practical.
  • For the formative assessment students will produce a preliminary portfolio of 10 to 12 photographs. Feedback will be provided on these to assist students to make a final selection of 3 to 5 photographs.
  • For the summative assessment students will submit a portfolio of 3 to 5 photographs accompanied by a reflective commentary drawing on key themes and concepts from the lectures, class discussions and reading.
  • The photography workshops will enable students to acquire basic technical proficiency in photography. Students are not expected or required to attain an advanced level of technical competence in photography and advanced photographic skills will not be used as assessment criteria.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 8 Weekly 1.5 hours 12
Photography workshop including H&S briefing 1 3 hours 3
Independent fieldwork 14
Preparation and Reading 71
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Photographic portfolio and reflective commentary Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Photographic portfolio and reflective commentary 3 to 5 photographs and 4 pages of text 100%

Formative Assessment:

Preliminary selection of 10 to 12 photographs from which a final selection for summative assessment will be chosen following qualitative feedback.

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