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Study information

Space, Politics and Power

Module titleSpace, Politics and Power
Module codeGEOM132
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Sean Carter (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module explores the intersections of space, politics and power. In particular, it explores the contested geographies of neoliberalism, resistance, and justice at a number of spatial scales. You will be exposed to contemporary debates over understandings of, for example, the political, post-secularism, the geographies of responsibility and critical geopolitics.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module provides a research-led environment in which you can develop understandings of both theoretical and applied disciplinary debates in, for example, the following topics:

  • Geographies of the political: which includes work on state spaces, carceral space, and the politics of the body
  • Geographies of things: which includes work on materiality and consumption
  • Postsecularism: which includes work on the category of the postsecular within contemporary political life
  • Responsibility: which includes work on theorisations of ethical relations, the geographies of morality and responsibility, and the politics of asylum and hospitality
  • Critical geopolitics: which includes work on contemporary critical and popular geopolitics

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 political issues and events.

Furthermore, the module draws extensively and explicitly on the research expertise and experience of the teaching staff, including, for example, work on visual geopolitics (Carter), post-secularism (Cloke), the politics of things (Cook), refugee and asylum (Bagelman), and gender and violence (Little). Moreover, through the assessments, students are encouraged to adopt inquiry-led approaches to understanding these issues.       

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Discuss the range and significance of work on the geographies of politics, ethics and justice
  • 2. Explain and discuss the contemporary debates surrounding the spatial dimensions of political thought
  • 3. Assess the implications of geographical research on political and ethical relations for policy
  • 4. Practice critical readings of diverse intellectual lineages behind understandings of ethics, politics, morality and justice
  • 5. Account for the intellectual diversity of approaches to the spatialities of politics and ethics within human geography

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 6. Apply geographical concepts to the interpretation and analysis of processes of injustice and responsibility
  • 7. Identify, evaluate and synthesise diverse perspectives on the different scales of political ethical life
  • 8. Draw upon relevant debates concerning methodological approaches to injustice
  • 9. Undertake original research on the geographies of responsibility through a self?directed research question

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 10. Identify, acquire, evaluate and synthesise data from a range of sources
  • 11. Evaluate contrasting theories in order to critically explore particular topics
  • 12. Evaluate and assess topics, showing consistency of argument and depth of analysis
  • 13. Evaluate research-based articles within the wider context of the module as a whole
  • 14. Develop independent learning skills including: self-directed reading, literature searches, and time management

Syllabus plan

Indicative topics include:

  • What is political geography?
  • Key concepts: Space, Politics, Power
  • Beyond the ‘moral turn’: ethics and responsibility
  • The politics of things
  • On post-secularism
  • State spaces: immigration, asylum, hospitality
  • Visual geopolitics
  • Practicing spatial responsibility

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 Teaching22Seminar sessions – run by members of the Spatial Responsibilities Research Group
Guided Independent Study128Self-directed readings

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual presentation20 minutes (including discussion)AllOral

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
Essay401500 wordsAllWritten
Coursework project602500 words or equivalentAllWritten

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssayAllAugust Ref/Def
Coursework projectCoursework projectAllAugust 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. Where you have been deferred in a coursework project that was delivered in a non-textual format, you will complete a written summary of your project. 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 50%) you will be required to resubmit the essay or the coursework project. Where you have been referred or deferred in a coursework project that was delivered in a non-textual format, you will complete a written summary of your project. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Barnett C et al. 2009 Rethinking the Public: innovations in research, theory and politics (Policy Press)
  • Cloke P et al. 2011 Globalising Responsibility (Wiley Blackwell)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Politics, ethics, power, responsibility, justice, political geographies, hospitality, asylum, state power, post-secularism

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date