Political Geographies

Module titlePolitical Geographies
Module codeGEO2120
Academic year2015/6
Module staff

Dr Sean Carter (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Political Geographers engage with a range of important, contemporary debates, such as nationalism, citizenship and sovereignty, and the geographies of conflict. This module provides a lively and engaging overview of this vibrant field. The module begins by equipping you with the necessary conceptual tools to ‘think geographically’ about political issues, before advancing to look in more detail at three different scales of political analysis; the state, the globe, and the city. The module concludes with a series of lectures on key contemporary issues such as refugees, activism, surveillance and resource (in)security).

The module is open to non-geography students, provided you have completed at least 15 credits of Geography at level 4, or have completed level 4 modules in other relevant subjects (such as Politics or International Relations).

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module will provide an introduction and overview to the varied and vibrant sub-discipline of Political Geography. The module aims to contextualise the study of Political Geography within the wider discipline, to enable you to understand the development and the trajectory of research within this field. You will be introduced to some of the core theoretical ideas and developments. After these introductory sessions, the module then aims to introduce three substantive areas of study within political geography – the state, the international arena, and the city. Finally, this module looks at a range of contemporary issues that political geographers are concerned with such as refugees and asylum; resource (in)security; and activism. This module will help you to 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. Discuss the development of the sub-discipline of Political Geography
  • 2. Describe core concepts in Political Geography
  • 3. Outline the multiple sites and spaces within which political geographies are performed and produced
  • 4. Explain how political power is distributed unevenly across time and space, and that it operates at a variety of scales
  • 5. Describe how geographical knowledge not only reflects this inequality, but also reproduces it
  • 6. Summarise how ‘other’ places are represented and imagined in geographical and popular discourses
  • 7. Analyse a range of critical approaches in the social sciences and their application to particular contexts in local, national and global politics
  • 8. Discuss current issues and debates in the study of political geographies, at the national, international and trans-national scales

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 9. Interpret and critically evaluate a range of geographic ‘texts’ (political speeches, foreign policies, cultural representations, television and print news media)
  • 10. Relate the reflexive nature of geographical analysis and inquiry
  • 11. Compare the political, moral and ethical issues bound up with geographical representations of the world
  • 12. Explain how geographical knowledge of the world is produced, maintained and circulated, both in academic and popular discourses

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 13. Provide an assessment of topics showing consistency of argument with adequate illustration from a range of sources
  • 14. Critically assess and evaluate aspects of contemporary political geographies
  • 15. Apply social theory to specific debates and contexts
  • 16. Interpret a wide variety of texts and data sources, from academic papers to popular representations
  • 17. Develop independent/self-directed study/learning skills, including time management, working to deadlines, and searching for literature relevant to the module themes
  • 18. Communicate and present geographical ideas, theories and principles through both oral and written means
  • 19. Present material to support a reasoned and consistent argument, both verbally and in writing

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

(lecture titles are indicative and may be subject to variation)

Section A Key concepts in Political Geography

The State

The political subject

Space and territory


Section B Political Geographies of the State





Section C: Political Geographies of the Globe

Visuality and geopolitics

Geographies of intervention

Spatialities of the War on Terror


Section D Political Geographies of the City

Geographies of publics

Gentrification and segregation

Global/world cities


Section E Political Geographies in Practice



Border politics

Privacy and surveillance

Activism and protest

Resource (in)security

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 Teaching20Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2Seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1Revision lecture
Guided Independent Study70Follow-up reading after lectures
Guided Independent Study8Reading/preparation for seminars
Guided Independent Study31Prepare and write essay
Guided Independent Study20Exam revision


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar presentation/participationOngoing throughout module1-19Informal oral feedback in seminars

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
Examination5090 minutesAllIndividual written
Essay502,000 wordsAllIndividual written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individual writtenIndividual writtenAllAugust Ref/Def
EssayEssayAllDependent upon circumstance

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 sit a further examination or 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

Agnew J. (2002), Making Political Geography (London; Arnold).

Dodds K. (2005), Global Geopolitics (Harlow; Prentice Hall).

Jones M, Jones R and Woods M (2004), An Introduction to Political Geography (London, Routledge).

Latham A, McCormack D, McNamara K and McNeill, D. (2009) Key Concepts in Urban Geography (London, Sage).

Massey, D (2007) World City (Cambridge, Polity).

Painter J and Jeffrey A. 2008, Political Geography: An intro to Space and Power (London, Sage).

Taylor P and Flint C. (2000, Political Geography (Harlow; Prentice Hall).

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

The state, geopolitics, cities, space, power

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date