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Global Lives: Decolonial Geographies

Module titleGlobal Lives: Decolonial Geographies
Module codeGEO2137
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Professor Ian Cook (Convenor)

Professor Nicola Thomas (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module examines geographical forces of identity politics through the theme of global lives. In the module we explore the relationships and outcomes of the historical processes of colonialism and their current day manifestations. We explore the messy, challenging, radical, defensive, racist, anti-racist, open, closed politics of difference in contemporary society – recognising that individuals are located within force fields of flows and connections that shape social relations, bringing the past into the present and into the future.

You will be introduced to a range of current themes and debates that are being discussed by cultural and historical geographers. This will be done through a series of web-based resources,   research seminar-style lectures, workshops and in-class discussion – all supported through preparation you do before the class through supported self-guided study, and extended reading. . Interaction, extra-curricular thinking and self-reflection are all strongly encouraged. We will have a look at how the place, landscape, popular culture and postcolonial and decolonial geographies – both in the UK and further afield – have been produced, represented, experienced, performed and resisted.

This module builds on arguments about a ‘global sense of place’ and ‘rabbit hole’ research introduced in the first year. But 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 workshop activities, and reading guidance that will be of benefit whichever module choices you make in your final year. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to introduce you to the current themes and debates that are being discussed by cultural and historical geographers. The module explores how different philosophies of knowledge impact the formation of contemporary societies and how we experience, perform and transform  multicultural geographies in our everyday lives.

This module will benefit your academic and personal development, by providing you with the chance to go through the process of how research gets turned into published ‘academic papers’ and the hands-on exploration of primary research material.

The teaching contributions on this module involve elements of research undertaken by module staff, such as work on postcolonial and decolonial geographies (Thomas); empire and colonialism (Thomas), identity politics, and the heritage of colonialism and slavery in contemporary commodity culture (Cook). Moreover, you are encouraged to undertake enquiry-led learning, specifically through the integration of research-led workshops using original texts and archive materials.


Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Describe the literature relating to recent debates in geographies of multiculture, identity, colonialism, postcolonialism and decolonialism
  • 2. Critically engage with original source material that are used by geographers
  • 3. Explain some of the practices and ideas that have shaped and connected cultures, places and peoples as a result of colonialism
  • 4. Analyse the contribution of geographical practices and the place of geographical knowledge in shaping societies, spaces and places
  • 5. Illustrate the role of place and space in the formation and negotiation of identity, and the ways in which such categories as ‘race’, gender, class, and sexuality intersect to shape identity
  • 6. Develop historical and cultural geographical imagination that enables better appreciation of contemporary issues

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 7. Evaluate the role of embedded social practices in the construction of the places and spaces that are the subject of this module
  • 8. Relate complex social theories to a deeper understanding of specific case studies
  • 9. Discuss decolonial and postcolonial theory and identity politics operating across time and space
  • 10. Outline the relationship between social practice and the construction of space and place
  • 11. Relate specific local examples to wider theoretical debates and categorisations

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 12. Evaluate contrasting theories, assimilate data from a range of sources, and over a range of scales and to provide a clear synthesis of defined topics
  • 13. Evaluate research-based articles within the wider context of the module as a whole
  • 14. Provide a critical assessment of module topics showing consistency of argument with adequate illustration from a range of sources
  • 15. Communicate and present geographical ideas, theories and principles individually or through group work
  • 16. Present material to support a reasoned and consistent argument
  • 17. Develop independent/self-directed study/learning skills, including time management, working to deadlines, and searching the literature for connected material
  • 18. Access, evaluate and present data from a range of sources

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

  • Global lives: introduction
  • Colonial Encounters: understanding the roots/routes of multiculture
  • The past in the present: postcolonial and decolonial approaches
  • Decolonsing praxis and contemporary politics
  • Representing global lives: the politics of multiculture, anti-racist praxis
  • Multiculture and everyday life: art, music and food
  • Global lives, resistance and activism
  • Researching a global sense of place

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 Teaching11Lectures
Guided Independent Study31Doing the suggested out-of-class exercises
Guided Independent Study40Doing the weekly guided reading (followed up in class)
Guided Independent Study68Reading and preparation for the 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; 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
Essay 1502000 wordsAllFeedback sheet
Essay 2251000 wordsAllIndividual written feedback and group feedback
Essay 3251000 wordsAllIndividual written feedback and group feedback


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay 1EssayAllAugust Ref/Def
Essay 2EssayAllAugust Ref/Def
Essay 3EssayAllAugust 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 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. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%. 


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Historical geography, cultural geography, place, identity, colonialism, postcolonialism, decolonialism, popular culture, multiculture, performance, protest, methods, archives

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date