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Social and Cultural Geographies

Module titleSocial and Cultural Geographies
Module codeGEO2456
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Dr Katie Orchel (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

How is contemporary society organised and experienced? What are the links between identity, place and power? How can we become sensitive to exploring the world around us? These are some of the key questions this module seeks to explore.

Social and cultural geographies have been a mainstream sub-discipline of human geography for at least thirty years. This module aims to build on some of the knowledge gained in Stage 1 to further develop your understanding of the theoretical and substantive concerns of social and cultural geography. It sets out the key theoretical debates and shows how these have transformed our understandings of space, knowledge, identity and power. You will be introduced to a range of current themes and debates that are being discussed by social and cultural geographers. This will be done through a series of ‘standard’ lectures online, research seminar-style workshops, socially-distanced fieldtrips or ‘soloing’ exercises, online workshops and discussion – all supported through your reading and out-of-class efforts. Interaction, extra-curricular thinking and self-reflection are all strongly encouraged. The module comprises three interlinked sections: introduction to social and cultural geography, foundations in theory, key sites and their associated methods. We will examine critically how place, society and culture – both in the UK and further afield – are produced, represented, experienced and performed.

This module builds on themes introduced during your first year. However, you don’t need to be a specialist to take this module. This is a broad ‘introduction’, which can be used to develop your learning in a number of different directions, with the added bonus of well-supported workshop activity, and reading guidance that will be of benefit whichever pathway you develop into in your final year.


Module aims - intentions of the module

This module will introduce you to the current themes and debates that are being discussed by social and cultural geographers – foe example, space, place, identity, community, gender and sexuality, the life course, the everyday, social justice, production and consumption.

This module has four distinct aims. The first is to examine the contemporary changes which are taking place in society and to suggest multiple and complex understandings of such events. This involves not only an understanding of wider structural shifts in culture and society, but also an appreciation of how those changes are experienced differentially by a wide variety of people. The second aim is to explore how different philosophies of knowledge impact our understanding of the formation of society, individuals and places. The third aim is to present a close interconnection between research and teaching by consistent reference to contemporary research conducted by the module convenors, geographers and academics in other related disciplines – thus enabling a more joined up pedagogic approach to researching, writing, reading and understanding. The final aim is to give you an experience of working in groups to explore real world issues.

The module includes an observational field trip to apply the theoretical and methodological issues covered in the module. This module will help you develop and extend your awareness of the importance of taught and learnt skills in strengthening employability potential.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Describe and evaluate, with some assistance, the methods and theories that social and cultural geographers use to understand how people make sense of space.
  • 2. Explain the role of space in defining social relations.
  • 3. Evaluate and explore, with some help, geography’s interdisciplinary links with cultural studies, social studies, anthropology and other social science disciplines.
  • 4. Reflect on the ways in which people form identities through which they recognise themselves and others.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. Experience and evaluate specialised research using qualitative methods adapted from the social sciences and humanities.
  • 6. Take responsibility for independent learning.
  • 7. Use a range of academic skills such as analysis, synthesis, argument and critique in project work.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 8. Evaluate and articulate weaknesses in the arguments of others.
  • 9. Undertake independent learning to achieve consistent, proficient and sustained attainment.
  • 10. Manage time effectively, setting objectives and priorities for learning and completing coursework.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The module is divided into three main sections. The themes in each section are indicative only.

  • Introduction to social and cultural geographies
  • Theoretical foundations: place, culture and identity
  • Sites and methods: landscape, popular culture, the everyday, the body

Learning and teaching

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 Teaching15Lectures will provide intermediate level knowledge on social and cultural geography.
Scheduled Learning and Teaching5Seminar/workshop – focused around key readings.
Scheduled Learning and Teaching5Fieldtrip to a local site of relevance to explore key themes of the module.
Guided Independent Study20Doing the suggested out-of-class exercises
Guided Independent Study40Doing the weekly guided reading (followed up in class)
Guided Independent Study30Reading and preparation for group coursework
Guided Independent Study35Reading and preparation for coursework


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Regular group workshops/debates (formative) based on a series of key issues and guided readings.Class discussion; anywhere between 10 minutes and one hour in durationAllOral

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
Research poster30Poster of about 500 words but primarily visual in natureAllWritten feedback template and (more generic) in class (after session)
Coursework essay701500 wordsAllFeedback template


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Research poster1000 word essayAllAugust ref/def
Coursework essayCoursework essayAllAugust 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 group presentation is non-deferrable because of its practical nature and the need to complete the assessment task within a group. 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. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • Key Journals: Social and Cultural Geography&Cultural Geographies
  • Anderson, Jon. 2010. Introduction. Understanding Cultural Geography – Spaces and Traces. Routledge.
  • Cresswell, Tim. 2012. Geographic Thought: A Critical Introduction. Wiley.
  • Del Casino, Vincent. 2009. Social Geography: A Critical Introduction. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Duncan, James S, Johnson, Nuala C and Schein, Richard H. 2004. Introduction. A Companion to Cultural Geography. Blackwell.
  • Horton, John and Kraftl, Peter. 2013. Cultural Geographies: An Introduction. Routledge.
  • Mitchell, Don. 2000. A Critical Introduction. Cultural Geography – A Critical Introduction. Blackwell.
  • Shurmer-Smith, P. (ed) (2002) ‘Introduction’, in Doing Cultural Geography. Sage.
  • Smith, Susan. 2008. The Sage Handbook of Social Geographies. Sage.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  •  ELE page (the ELE page for this module will provide a module handbook and all lecture materials.)

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Society, culture, place, space, identity, methods

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date