Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Any Level 2 Geography module


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To critically explore different ways of theorising politics and the political geographically.
  • To introduce students to advanced conceptual debates in the academic field of political geography.
  • To develop with students their theoretical and conceptual understandings of the relations between politics and space and between politics and geography.
  • To encourage students to critically engage with contemporary political-geographical issues.


  • Theorising contemporary geopolitics and the dynamics of political space through key concepts, such as:
  • Violence, war and harms;
  • Data, algorithms, technology and computation;
  • States, territory, sovereignty, democracy and populism;
  • Environmental geopolitics, climate change and the Anthropocene;
  • Citizenship, borders and migration;
  • Citizenship, culture, belonging;
  • Sexuality, race, gender, nation, class and ethnicity.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On successful completion of the module students will be able to:
  • Understand key conceptual and theoretical debates in contemporary academic political geography.
  • Critically evaluate key concepts in political geography, such as power, space and the political, as well as the relationship between them.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of contemporary approaches to political geography.
  • Understand a range of critical approaches to geographical conceptualisations of the political.
  • Understand how our approaches to political geography enable and disable different political possibilities.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On successful completion of the module students will be able to:
  • Evaluate and apply critical theoretical and conceptual approaches to political geography.
  • Think critically about the use of key concepts and theories in understanding contemporary issues in political geography.
Key Skills:
  • At the end of this module, students are expected to be able to:
  • Demonstrate a variety of communication skills including: evaluating and synthesising information from a range of sources including film, academic texts and governmental reports; presenting their findings and analysis in a workshop environment; researching, structuring and writing academic essays; responding, engaging and commenting on each others’ work in the context of the workshops.
  • Collaborate in small teams to generate advanced-level analysis and presentation of issues and themes in political geography.
  • Demonstrate a capacity to reflect critically on the themes introduced in the course: to engage in depth with academic texts and other texts presented as part of the course; to identify key arguments in a text and be able to analyse the claims; to evaluate the evidence that different texts offer; to make a judgement about whether the evidence is convincing and persuasive; to make judgements about the strengths and weaknesses of an argument in relation to the questions put forward as part of the course.
  • Demonstrate a capacity to evaluate and build on academic performance: through the summative assessments; responding to formative feedback; managing time effectively; and synthesising knowledge and information from a range of sources encountered as part of the course.

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

  • The lectures will introduce students to the concepts, theories and contemporary issues of political geography. Lectures will present central debates in the field and provide illustrative case studies.
  • Students will be given the opportunity to prepare their group posters over the course of two mid-term workshops.
  • Examination and coursework will assess critical understanding of concepts and critical thinking.
  • The group poster will assess skills including a) understanding and evaluation of key concepts, debates, and approaches in the study of politics and space; b) the communication and synthesis of information. Students will display their group posters in two end-of-term workshops.
  • The exam will assess key skills including a) ability to evaluate and synthesise information from a range of sources, including readings and films; b) the ability to engage in critical reflection and analysis on module themes; and c) the ability to make a coherent and insightful argument that engages the central concepts and themes of the module.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 14 Varies 2 hours 28
Workshops 4 Varies 3 hours 12
Film Showings 1 Varies 2 hours 2
Preparation and Reading 158
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 67%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Online 24 hour unseen examination 2 hours (recommended) 100%
Component: Group poster on module themes Component Weighting: 33%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Group poster on module themes 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative feedback will be provided throughout the module, especially during the Workshops where students will be expected to prepare in advance and reflect during their interactions with staff. The Workshops seek to cement theoretical understanding of key module themes.

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