Skip to main content

Study information

Political Geographies

Module titlePolitical Geographies
Module codeGEO2120
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Sean Carter (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Political Geographers engage with a range of important, contemporary debates, such as nationalism, citizenship and sovereignty, and the geographies of conflict. This module provides a lively and engaging overview of this vibrant field. It does so by equipping you with the requisite knowledge, understanding and skills to effectively analyse a series of contemporary global political challenges. The ‘challenges’ that feature toward the end of the module may change slightly from year to year reflect contemporary events. A key feature of this module is a set of teaching sessions that equip you with a range of analytical skills in order to be able to consider potential future scenarios (and solutions) with regard to a range of contemporary global issues.

The module is open to non-geography students, and is especially suited to those taking cognate disciplines, such as Politics or International Relations.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module will provide an introduction and overview to the varied and vibrant sub-discipline of Political Geography. The module aims to contextualise the study of Political Geography within the wider discipline, to enable you to understand the development and the trajectory of research within this field, and to introduce you to some of the core theoretical ideas.

It does so by moving through four main sections:

  • ‘Approaches’, which looks at different theoretical traditions in Political Geography,
  • ‘Actors’, which looks at key agents in global politics,
  • ‘Contemporary Global Challenges’, where we look at a range of real-world issues that political geographers are interested in, and
  • ‘Applied Critical Thought’, which introduces skills and techniques for thinking through contemporary global issues and challenges.

This module will help you to develop and extend your awareness of the importance of taught and learnt skills in strengthening employability potential, especially through the application of critical analytical skills to a range of contemporary global challenges. More specifically, the applied critical thought section discusses the use of scenario planning within policy and organisational settings, and provides an opportunity for you to develop these skills through scenario planning workshops.

The teaching contributions on this module involve elements of research undertaken by module staff, such as work on geopolitics and the media (Carter), governmentality and the state (Gill) and refugees and sanctuary cities (Bagelman). Moreover, you are encouraged to undertake enquiry-led learning, specifically through the scenario planning workshops.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Discuss the development of the sub-discipline of Political Geography
  • 2. Describe core concepts in Political Geography
  • 3. Outline the multiple sites and spaces within which political geographies are performed and produced
  • 4. Explain how political power is distributed unevenly across time and space, and that it operates at a variety of scales
  • 5. Describe how geographical knowledge not only reflects this inequality, but also reproduces it
  • 6. Summarise how ‘other’ places are represented and imagined in geographical and popular discourses
  • 7. Analyse a range of critical approaches in the social sciences and their application to particular contexts in local, national and global politics
  • 8. Discuss current issues and debates in the study of political geographies, at the national, international and trans-national scales

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Interpret and critically evaluate a range of geographic ‘texts’ (political speeches, foreign policies, cultural representations, television and print news media)
  • 10. Relate the reflexive nature of geographical analysis and inquiry
  • 11. Compare the political, moral and ethical issues bound up with geographical representations of the world
  • 12. Explain how geographical knowledge of the world is produced, maintained and circulated, both in academic and popular discourses

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 13. Provide an assessment of topics showing consistency of argument with adequate illustration from a range of sources
  • 14. Critically assess and evaluate aspects of contemporary political geographies
  • 15. Apply social theory to specific debates and contexts
  • 16. Interpret a wide variety of texts and data sources, from academic papers to popular representations
  • 17. Develop independent/self-directed study/learning skills, including time management, working to deadlines, and searching for literature relevant to the module themes
  • 18. Communicate and present geographical ideas, theories and principles through both oral and written means
  • 19. Present material to support a reasoned and consistent argument, both verbally and in writing

Syllabus plan

Lecture titles are indicative and may be subject to variation

Section 1 Approaches

  • Introducing Political Geographies
  • Political Geographies and State Power

Section 2 Actors

  • States
  • Activists
  • International Organisations
  • Media & Civil Society

Section 3 Contemporary Global Challenges

  • Refugees/Asylum
  • War/Peace
  • Global (in)securities
  • Humanitarian Interventions
  • Sovereignty and the State
  • Political Subjectivity and Citizenship

Section 4 Applied Critical Thought

  • Anticipatory Governance
  • Thinking the Future
  • Scenario Workshops

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching20Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching3Revision lecture and workshops
Guided Independent Study67Revision lecture and workshops
Guided Independent Study30Prepare and write essay
Guided Independent Study30Examination revision

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Discussion presentation/participationOngoing throughout module1-19Informal oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination5090 minutesAllIndividual written
Written assignment502000 wordsAllIndividual written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individual writtenIndividual writtenAllAugust Ref/Def
Written assignmentWritten assignmentAllDependent upon circumstance

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination or submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Agnew J. (2002), Making Political Geography (London; Arnold).
  • Agnew J et al. (eds) (2010) A Companion to Political Geography (Oxford; Blackwell)
  • Dodds K. (2005), Global Geopolitics (Harlow; Prentice Hall).
  • Gallaher C. et al. (2009) Key Concepts in Political Geography (London; Sage)
  • Jones M, Jones R and Woods M (2009), An Introduction to Political Geography (London, Routledge).
  • Painter J and Jeffrey A. (2008), Political Geography: An intro to Space and Power (London, Sage).
  • Taylor P and Flint C. (2011), Political Geography (Harlow; Prentice Hall).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

The state, geopolitics, space, power, global challenges

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date