Contemporary Debates in Human Geography

Module titleContemporary Debates in Human Geography
Module codeGEOM106A
Academic year2017/8
Module staff

Dr Pepe Romanillos (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module provides you with an opportunity to explore some of the most recent theoretical developments at the very forefront of the discipline. The module will be largely student-driven, providing you with room for discussion of the latest currents of geographical thought and their impact upon key debates that lie at the heart of the subject.

Module aims - intentions of the module

Questions about the construction of knowledge and the practice of geographical research will be pursued, and you will be encouraged to make judgments, develop critiques and offer sustained interpretations on contemporary geographical thought and practice. In this way, the module is structured so as to allow you to take responsibility for your own learning direction and to strengthen your own research fields. The module draws upon research undertaken by the convenor on the history of geographical thought, landscape, and non-representational theory. 

Through attending the seminars and through completing the assessments, you will work towards developing the following graduate attributes:

  • interpersonal skills (small group discussions and debates)
  • confidence (relating the ideas tackled in lectures and literature to everyday contexts and using them to contribute to conversations with non-experts)
  • developing your own ideas with confidence (in particular, the coursework assignment provides an opportunity for you to undertake active, enquiry-led research by presenting on a field of geographical research of your choosing, supported by dialogue with the module convenor).
  • managing structure (identifying key demands of the assignment, setting clearly defined goals, developing research strategies to ensure individual success)
  • time management (managing time effectively individually)

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Evaluate the construction of human geographical scholarship
  • 2. Devise, sustain and justify arguments related to a range of geographical research, and support your position through deep contextualisation within the wider geographical thought
  • 3. Relate complex geographical ideas to theories within other disciplines
  • 4. Describe the relationship between geographical practice, the generation of theory, and the role of the academy in the disciplinary construction of human geography
  • 5. Summarise the attributes of ‘good’ geographical research, and critique papers from a grounded and theoretically sophisticated standpoint
  • 6. Communicate a clear grasp of a wide range of literature, theoretical debates, and methodological practices associated with cutting?edge human geographical endeavour
  • 7. Describe the significance of particular theoretical and/or practical strands within recent human geographical research

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 8. Develop original research questions and make novel links between academic literature of a wide variety of forms and traditions
  • 9. Relate comprehensively, complex theories to specific case studies
  • 10. Synthesise academic debates with clarity and coherence

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 11. Communicate and present ideas, theories and principles, largely through group discussion and presentations
  • 12. Present material that supports a reasoned and consistent argument
  • 13. Using your initiative make links and synthesise ideas and issues from a much larger body of work

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Term 1


  • Organisation, reading and expectations

Weekly meetings on specific areas of contemporary debate within human geography including:

  • Reconsidering social and cultural geography
  • Non-representational theory
  • New materialisms
  • The body
  • Emotion and affect
  • Actor?Network Theory and the ‘relational turn’
  • Landscape
  • Mobilities
  • Identity, performance and performativity
  • Radical geography, the crisis of relevance and the political

Term 2

Week 1: Presentation assessment

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 Teaching22Staff-led lectures and seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2Student-led meetings
Guided Independent Study126Essay reading and preparation


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Student led seminars1 hourAllOral

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
Presentation3020 minutesAllOral and written
Essay703000 wordsAllWritten


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PresentationWritten summary of presentationAllAugust Ref/Def period
EssayEssayAllAugust Ref/Def 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. Where you have been deferred in the presentation, you will complete a written summary of your presentation. 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 complete a written summary of your presentation as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 50%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

The nature of the module makes the selection of set texts difficult. However, relevant texts include:

  • Anderson B and Harrison P (eds.) 2010 Taking?Place: Non?Representational Theories and Geography, (Ashgate)
  • Massey, D., Allen, J. and Sarre, P. (eds) 1999 Human Geography Today (London; Polity)
  • Peet, R. 1998 Modern Geographical Thought (Oxford; Blackwell)
  • Shurmer?Smith, P (ed.) 2002 Doing Cultural Geography (London; Sage)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Geographical research, geographical thought, human geography, contemporary debates, place, landscape, identity, performance, politics, materialism, environment, cultural geography

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date