Skip to main content

Study information

Geographies of the Body

Module titleGeographies of the Body
Module codeGEO3142
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Jennifer Lea (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The body has become an increasingly important subject and object of geographical inquiry. In this module we will explore some of the ways that the body has been investigated and conceptualised, including through the senses, emotions, skills and pain. The module is suitable if you have an interest in the body, how we live in the world through our bodies, and are interested in reflecting on your own bodily experiences as framed through geographical concepts and theories. The module involves reading group discussions that will require preparation and participation. It also involves some practical sessions, where I will invite you to explore and reflect on your own bodily experiences. The workshops will variously include a skill share (where I will invite you to share your embodied skills – anything from juggling to knitting – with your peers); going for a walk around campus; and some guided meditation and basic movement (standing, sitting, balancing). You will also be invited to draw on your experiences of any of your own existing embodied practices, for example yoga, swimming, running, walking, dancing, climbing.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module has three aims:

  • to enable you to explore how geographers have understood the body
  • to review the methods that geographers have used to develop these understandings
  • to reflect on these ideas and methods in relation to your own bodily experiences.

The module will offer an in-depth examination of how geographers have come to understand the body in the wake of non-representational theories. This marked a fundamental shift in how some geographers have gone about doing research, how they have conceptualised the kinds of selves we are and the relationships we have to the world, and the kinds of literatures they have drawn upon (from choreography to neuroscience). We will examine some of the key themes that geographers interested in the body have developed, including skills and embodied knowledges, the senses and the relationship to the self, movement and mobilities, emotional geographies, bodily experience, pain and encumberment.

These themes will be grounded in discussions of specific literatures, considerations of how geographers have gone about doing this kind of research, as well as experiments with our own bodies in a series of practical workshops. This module is grounded in the convenor’s research into bodily practices, including past work on practices such as yoga and massage (which looked at themes such as learning embodied skills, the interrelations of body and world opened up through therapeutic touch, and the making of the self through disciplined bodily practices), and current collaborative work with a choreographer (attempting to develop new understandings of homelessness through bodies and movements). These practical workshops are based on the assumption that to really learn about bodies, we need to connect with our own bodily experiences. They will underpin your developing understanding of how we might document bodily practices (which will result in you producing a reflective account of your own participation in a chosen embodied practice – this might be one of the things we do in a workshop, or something you already do in your leisure time); as well as how to judge accounts of bodily practices (we will co-produce the marking criteria that will be used for the reflective account of a bodily practice assessment). The second assessment element is a 2000 word essay that will require you to reflect on how geographers have variously understood the body.

Through active participation in the module, the aim is that you will further develop the following academic and professional skills:

  • problem solving (developing own ideas with confidence, identifying and using appropriate sources of information, selectively collecting and collating appropriate information)
  • managing structure (identifying key demands of the task, setting clearly defined goals, conceptualising central issues within the task, developing strategies to ensure individual progress)
  • time management (managing time effectively individually)
  • collaboration (respecting the views and values of others, taking initiative and leading others, supporting others in their work, maintaining group cohesiveness and purpose)
  • and audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively in multiple formats, persuading others of the importance and relevance of your views, responding positively and effectively to questions).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Explain how and why the body has become an important scale of investigation for Geographers
  • 2. Evaluate how geographers have variously understood the body
  • 3. Offer your own accounts of bodily experiences, movement, sensations and knowledges for an academic audience
  • 4. Develop a relationship with your own body through engagement with body practices
  • 5. Evaluate geographers’ attempts to translate bodily knowledges into writing for academic audiences

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 6. Understand and critique geographical arguments and knowledges
  • 7. Understand and take responsibility for judging and creating geographical knowledges
  • 8. Communicate geographical ideas, principles and theories effectively using oral, written and embodied skills
  • 9. Understand how the body relates to broader geographical research, understandings and knowledges

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 10. Develop independent/self-directed study/learning skills, including time management
  • 11. Present material to support a reasoned and consistent argument, both verbally and in writing
  • 12. Identify, acquire, evaluate and synthesise data from a range of sources
  • 13. Develop a critical and reflexive relationship to your own knowledges, including body knowledges
  • 14. Evaluate research-based articles within the wider context of the topic as a whole
  • 15. Develop writing skills for different audiences

Syllabus plan

  • Introduction
  • Skilled bodies
    • bodily knowledges
    • learning embodied skills
  • Sensing bodies
    • the sensory body
  • Moving bodies
    • mobilities
    • moving bodies
  • Feeling bodies
    • emotional geographies
    • embodying experience
  • Other bodies
    • painful bodies
    • encumbered bodies
  • Finishing thoughts

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 Teaching18Lectures, seminars and coursework preparation sessions (18 x 1 hour)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching10Practicals and practical reflection sessions (5 x 2 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching3Field class (1 x 3 hour)
Guided Independent Study15Lecture, seminar and practical preparation
Guided Independent Study45Assessment preparation
Guided Independent Study59Wider reading

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Writing assessment criteria based on examples of geographical writing which documents bodily practices One side A4 table1-2, 5-10, 12, 14-15Group oral and written feedback (staff-student collaboratively written assessment criteria)
Documentation of practicalOne side A43-5, 7-8, 10, 13, 15Individual written
Structured self-reflection and peer discussion of practical documentation3-hour workshops1-2, 5-9, 11, 13Group oral
Group discussion in lectures and seminars18 hours of lectures/seminars1-2, 5-9, 11-14Group oral and written

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
Reflective account of your participation in a bodily practice 501500 words2-5, 7-8, 10, 12-13, 15Written
Essay 502000 words1-2 , 5-15Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Reflective account of your participation in a bodily practiceReflective account of your participation in a bodily practice2-5, 7-8, 10, 12-13, 15Aug ref/def
EssayEssay1-2 , 5-15Aug ref/def

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 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

  • Bissell, D. (2009) ‘Obdurate pains, transient intensities: affect and the chronically-pained body’ Environment and Planning A, 41(4), 911-928.
  • Bondi, L. and Davidson, J. (eds) (2007) Emotional Geographies, London, Routledge.
  • Cresswell, T. (2010)’ Towards a politics of mobility’ Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 28(1) 17-31
  • Edensor, T. (2000) ‘Walking in the British Countryside: Reflexivity, Embodiment and Ways to Escape’, Body and Society 6 (2-3): 81-106
  • Laurier, E. & Philo, C. (2006) ‘Possible geographies: a passing encounter in a caféArea 38(4) 353-363.
  • Lea, J. (2009) ‘Becoming skilled: the cultural and corporeal geographies of teaching and learning Thai Yoga Massage, Geoforum, 40(3), 465-474.
  • Lerman, L. (2014) Hiking the Horizontal, Middletown, Wesleyan University Press.
  • Lorimer, H. (2012) ‘Surfaces and slopes’ Performance Research, 17(2) 83-86.
  • Malbon, B. (1999) Clubbing: dancing, ecstasy and vitality, London, Routledge.
  • McCormack, D. (2014) Refrains for Moving Bodies: experience and experiment in affective spaces, Durham, Duke University press.
  • Paterson, M. and Dodge, M. (eds) (2012) Touching place, Placing Touch, Andover, Ashgate.
  • Spinney. J. (2006) ‘A place of sense: a kinaesthetic ethnography of cyclists on Mont Ventoux’ Envronment and Planning D: Society and Space, 24(5) 709-732.
  • Thrift, N. (2008) Non-representational theory: space, politics, affect, London, Routledge.
  • Thrift, N. and Dewsbury, JD. (2000) ‘Dead Geographies – and how to make them live’ Envronment and Planning D: Society and Space, 18(4) 411-432.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

The body, embodied knowledges, the senses, movement, emotions, pain

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date