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 develop a geographical perspective on issues of memory and theories of place identity
  • To examine how national identities and memory is linked (culturally, materially)
  • To examine who controls narratives about places and their histories, and thus who controls senses of belonging, inclusion and exclusion
  • To interrogate the changing role of institutions of memory, from national parks to national museums to monuments
  • To explore the contestations and meanings of counter memories and histories from below
  • To explore the role of art and aesthetics in preserving memories
  • To examine the different scales of place associated with memories in transnational, post-colonial and counter national communities
  • To develop a geographical perspective on issues of memory and theories of place identity


  • This specialized module will develop an advanced understanding of the role that collective memory plays in the functioning of societies. Broadly it will address the politicized issues of ‘whose heritage matters?’. How is it decided what kinds of peoples and histories get preserved (and which get forgotten), and what are the implications of that. It will examine the different kinds institutions and actors involved in preservation – looking at rural and natural heritage in national parks, monuments and statues, commemorative ceremonies, through to museums of different sizes and sorts. It will look at the way these each have histories and effects on what is preserved. To see this it will look at how versions of the past have been contested and changed – by demands from different social groups for different stories to be told and to change the manner of their telling. Indicative themes will include:
  • 1. Memory and history: how societies remember
  • 2. Memory in the land: memorials and monuments
  • 3. Memory and contestation
  • 4. Ecological Memory and mobility
  • 5. Post-colonial and Transnational memory-history
  • 6. Embodied and tactile memory

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
  • Understand the varied approaches to memory
  • Achieve an advanced understanding of the literatures on ‘memory’ across the humanities and social sciences
  • Discuss debates over different preservation strategies and different heritage institutions and their relationships to material culture and communities
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
  • Evaluate and apply key concepts and theoretical approaches to heritage, preservation and memory
  • Think critically and creatively about the ethics and politics of preservation
  • Explore selected issues through grounded examples of institutions, sites and spaces that record memory in a national, local and individual scales and modes
Key Skills:
  • On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate a variety of communication skills
  • Demonstrate a capacity to reflect critically and creatively on the relations between 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

  • Core lecture content will a) introduce various concepts and theories for thinking about social memory and b) be anchored in original case studies, including but not limited to: museums, national parks, living history enthusiasts, artists, folk rituals, personal memorabilia
  • Seminars focused on key institutions will allow students to develop a deeper knowledge of selected issues
  • The examination will test students knowledge of approaches to the study of memory in the context of debates about heritage and material culture

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 12 Varies 1.5 hours 18
Seminar 1 1 hour 1
Student Preparation and Reading Time 81
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Written Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Examination 1.5 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Essay (Max. 4 pages A4 in accordance with Departmental Policy on Coursework Length and Format)

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