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Human-Animal Interactions

Module titleHuman-Animal Interactions
Module codeGEO3467
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Sarah Crowley (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Why do wolves symbolise wilderness and vultures signify death? How might our interactions with dogs differ from our encounters with cockroaches? How do elephants perceive, move through and shape their environment? In this module we explore spatial, symbolic, and material relations between humans and nonhuman animals. We examine historical and contemporary ideas about what it means to be an animal, how nonhumans sense, inhabit and act in the world, and the diverse ways in which the lives of humans and other animals are intertwined. This module sets out key theories and debates relating to the place of animals in human societies and tracks how ‘human’ geography has responded to questions and challenges raised by the presence and vitality of the ‘nonhuman’. It also explores the emergence of innovative, multispecies approaches to research within and beyond the discipline of geography, and investigates how, in a time of climate change, industrial agriculture, environmental pollution and widespread biodiversity loss, humans might live more sustainably in relation to other animals. The module is therefore of direct applied relevance to students working in environmental management, policy or governance.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to introduce you to a body of research at the interface of human geography, other social scientific disciplines, and the natural sciences. The module aims to:

  • explore the myriad ways in which humans perceive and classify nonhuman animals;
  • consider animals’ geographies, and how they relate human organisations of space;
  • investigate the sites, forms, and consequences human-animal interactions.

You will study geographical contributions to contemporary discussions and debates about animal management, conservation, and welfare, with particular reference to relational, ‘more-than-human’ geographies and multispecies research methodologies. A key aim of the module is for you to apply social scientific theory and methodologies to some of the environmental and ethical challenges of living sustainably with nonhuman others. Module content will draw on the module convenor’s own research on wildlife and domestic animal management. You will develop skills in independent research, synthesising ideas and approaches from different academic disciplines, report-writing, and employing alternative and mixed methodologies.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Evaluate critically different theoretical and methodological approaches to understanding both nonhuman animals and human-animal interaction
  • 2. Comprehend and articulate how nonhuman animals, and human interactions with them, shape identities, cultures and environments
  • 3. Explain the role of animal geographies in developing sustainable environmental and animal management

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Describe in some detail the essential facts and theory informing a sub-discipline of geography
  • 5. Analyse and evaluate independently a range of research-informed literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 6. Identify and implement appropriate methods for addressing specific research problems in (more-than) human geography

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 7. Devise and sustain, with little guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions
  • 8. Communicate ideas, principles and theories fluently using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 9. Analyse and evaluate appropriate data and complete a range of research-like tasks with very limited guidance

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

  • Introduction: What is an animal?
  • Animal stories and symbols
  • Placing Animals I: Classifying animals
  • Placing Animals II: Animals in and out of place
  • Interactions I: Killing and consuming
  • Interactions II: Cultivation and care
  • Interactions III: Conservation, conflict and co-existence
  • Animals’ Geographies I: Nonhuman life-worlds
  • Animals’ Geographies II: Multispecies methodologies
  • Guest lecture
  • Field trip (module field trips may have to be moved online/replaced in the event of continued COVID-19 lockdown/social distancing rules)

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 Teaching 20Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 5Field trip (Module field trips may have to be moved online/replaced in the event of continued COVID-19 lockdown/social distancing rules)
Guided Independent Study125Additional research, reading and preparation for module assessments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Summary discussions and questions during lecturesOngoing1-9Oral staff 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
Report501500 words1-2, 5-6, 8-9Written
Essay501500 words1-5, 7-8Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ReportReport1-2, 5-6, 8-9August Assessment Period
EssayEssay1-5, 7-8August Assessment Period

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. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • Urbanik, J. (2012). Placing animals: An introduction to the geography of human-animal relations. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Philo, C., & Wilbert, C. (2000). Animal spaces, beastly places: new geographies of human-animal relations. Routledge.
  • Wolch, J. R., & Emel, J. (Eds.). (1998). Animal geographies: Place, politics, and identity in the nature-culture borderlands. Verso.
  • Buller, H. (2014 – 2016), Hovorka, A. (2017 – 2018), Gibbs (2018 – ) ‘Animal Geographies’ series. Progress in Human Geography.  
  • Johnston, C. (2008). Beyond the clearing: towards a dwelt animal geography. Progress in Human Geography32(5), 633-649.
  • Lorimer, J. (2015). Wildlife in the Anthropocene: conservation after nature. University of Minnesota Press.
  • Hodgetts, T., & Lorimer, J. (2015). Methodologies for animals’ geographies: Cultures, communication and genomics. Cultural Geographies22(2), 285-295.
  • Hodgetts, T., & Lorimer, J. (2018). Animals’ mobilities. Progress in Human Geography, 0309132518817829.
  • Lorimer, J., Hodgetts, T., & Barua, M. (2019). Animals’ atmospheres. Progress in Human Geography43(1), 26-45.
  • Asdal, K., Druglitro, T., & Hinchliffe, S. (Eds.). (2016). Humans, Animals and Biopolitics: The more-than-human condition. Routledge.

Suggested Journals:

  • Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space
  • Society and Animals
  • Anthrozoös
  • Geoforum

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Animals, society, animal geography, human geography, anthrozoology, biopolitics, more-than-human, conservation, pets, agriculture, wildlife, political ecology, interdisciplinary

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date