Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham
Tied to L703
Tied to L705


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The aim of this module is to expose students to some of the emerging research in human geography being undertaken by staff at Durham Geography through a series of individual seminars delivered by academic staff, researchers, and postgraduates within the Department of Geography. The module works alongside Advanced Research in Human Geography in that it allows students to examine a wide range of emergent research questions and problems, thereby ensuring that students are made aware of the spread of research ‘paradigms’ and theoretical positions in human geography and become informed of the latest thinking and ideas in their field of enquiry. At the same time, the module is designed to enhance a student’s generic skills in interpreting and critically analyzing research (through the production of two seminar critiques) and in presenting oftentimes complex material (through an oral presentation).


  • The course will be organized around a series of seminars that complement and enhance the research priorities and frontiers of international geographical research in the Department of Geography. The specific topics are to be determined on a year-by-year basis in response to emerging research across the breadth of Human Geography research and will also, inevitably, be dependent upon the availability of academic staff and researchers at any given time. Each seminar will include a ~50 minute academic paper or equivalent followed by a group discussion. With the research being very recent or indeed ongoing, there is no expectation that presenters will necessarily have a written paper to pre-circulate: indeed it will act as a challenge for us all to be able to think quickly on our feet when posing questions or contributing towards the subsequent discussion. We will doubtless be offered quite a variety of styles of presentation as well. As part of the progression through the module, students will select one seminar topic to explore in more depth in term 1 culminating in a written Seminar Critique. Students will then select a second seminar topic in term 2 based upon the set of seminar presentations delivered, and will also offer a presentation at the beginning of Term 3 on that selected theme followed by a second Seminar Critique.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will have in-depth knowledge of how research at the frontiers of human geography engages with and responds to the emergent practices and processes shaping the contemporary world
  • Students will have detailed knowledge of the latest thinking and ideas around one major theme and critically evaluate the difference geographical thought and research makes to how that theme is understood
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will be able to critically and creatively engage with research into a wide range of contemporary geographical issues
  • Students will be able to understand the limits and possibilities of various ways of presenting and discussing geographic research
Key Skills:
  • Students will develop skills in creating and using audio-visual material for specific audiences
  • Students will develop new presentation skills, including styles of delivery, the use of rhetoric and modes of presentation and argumentation
  • Students will enhance their skills in synthesising information, deliberating and responding critically and constructively to arguments and the use of evidence

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

  • Seminars: The primary method of teaching will be seminars during which a member of the department will present on their recent research for ~50 minutes. This will be followed by a round-table discussion. The presenter may choose to make readings available in advance of this discussion. The discussion will be student-led, and is an open environment to discuss both practical and theoretical matters in research. The seminars provide an opportunity to develop skills of deliberation critical response as well as a more detailed understanding of the research process.
  • Workshops: One workshop will introduce the course and another focuses specifically on presentation techniques. The purpose of these workshops is to develop skills of presentation in an academic context and critical responses to the work of others.
  • Student Seminar Presentations (Summative Assessment): The summative presentation will draw on students’ abilities to critically engage with one of the academic presentations of the choice and develop their skills of presentation.
  • Seminar Critique (Summative Assessment): This summative assessment requires a critical engagement with a specific presentation, and is an opportunity for students to engage in more depth in a topic of their choice. The summative is an opportunity to develop critical thinking skills with regards to aspects of epistemology, theory and methodology.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops 2 1 per term 2 hours 4
Research Frontiers Seminars 12 Weekly 2 hours 24
Seminars 4 End of module 3 hours 12
Self-directed learning 160
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Oral Presentation Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Oral Presentation 15 minutes 100%
Component: Seminar Critique Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seminar Critique 2000 words 100%
Component: Seminar Critique Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seminar Critique 2000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative feedback on the response to the academic seminar and written and verbal feedback on the individual presentation. Each seminar and workshop also provides time for formative feedback and dialogue as we engage directly with academics on their presentations.

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