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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

GEOG2020 Political and Development Geographies

20 creditsClass Size: 136

Module manager: Dr Martin Purvis

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is mutually exclusive with

GEOG2140Political and Development Geographies: The shaping of the wo

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module explores geographical perspectives on politics and development as a means of understanding the shaping of the world we inhabit. The foundations of current political systems are considered through an exploration of modernity, state-making and imperialism, posing questions about the ways in which these concepts/activities have contributed to the current state of the world. The module then explores the perspectives of both classical geopolitics and more recent developments in critical geopolitics in its exploration of the construction of power at the global scale and the contemporary contest over power (both political and economic) between leading states and state groupings: USA, Russia, China and the European Union. The second half of the module highlights alternatives to conventional constructions of state power and the potential – in both the global North and global South – of voices critical of established political and economic elites, and of the inequalities which they perpetuate.


On completion of this module students should have acquired:

1. an understanding of key aspects of modern political geographies;
2. knowledge of the processes underpinning change in political and international development structures;
3. an appreciation of the importance of space and place in the constitution of power, institutions and global flows;
4. an understanding of global, national and local political and socio-economic inequalities and those struggling for alternative visions of politics and development;
5. skills in identifying literature and other information sources , and knowledge of selected techniques of information retrieval, analysis and presentation in written formats.

Learning outcomes
Knowledge and Understanding
The dynamic nature of geographical thought and practice and the inter-relationships between the discipline and the social sciences
Spatial patterns and relationships in human phenomena at a variety of scales
The geography of places and their constitution by environmental, economic, social and political processes, and the influence of places on these processes
The geographies of difference and inequality with particular reference to international development, ethnicity, class, gender and the changing nature of international political economy and institutions
Contemporary debates about time-space relationships, globalization and global interconnections, and social movements
The contribution of geography to development of environmental, political, economic and cultural agendas, policies and practices

Skills outcomes
Cognitive skills
Abstraction and synthesis of information from a variety of sources
Assessment and critical evaluation of the merits of contrasting theories, explanations, policies
Critical analysis and interpretation of data and text
Developing reasoned arguments

Practical/professional skills
Collect, interpret and synthesise different types of quantitative and qualitative geographical data
Recognise the ethical issues involved in geographical debates and enquiries

Key skills
Communicate effectively (in writing, verbally and through graphical presentations)
Use information technology effectively (including use of spreadsheet, database and word processing programmes; Internet and e-mail)
Identify, retrieve, sort and exchange geographical information using a wide range of sources
Work as part of a team and to recognise and respect the viewpoints of others
Manage time and organise work effectively


Block One: States and global power politics

Critical geographical perspectives on politics and development
Modernity and politics
The evolution of the state
Imperialism & colonialism
Powers and superpowers in the contemporary world: USA, Russia, China and Europe

Block Two: Challenging states and state power

Framing alternatives to elite power
Feminist, post-colonial and post-communist geopolitics
Political alternatives: new nationalisms, post-nationalism and populism
Place, politics and power: opposing authoritarianism, neo liberal development and globalisation
Spaces of independence and challenge to contemporary colonialism

Seminars running alongside the lectures will introduce students to relevant literature and documentaries/films that connect to the module themes.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours160.00
Total Contact hours40.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- 120 hours reading to support individual lectures, seminars & exam revision
- 40 hours reading, bibliographical research and preparation for assessed report

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Progress monitoring will be through weekly lectures and especially small group discussion seminars.
Mark and written comments as formative assessment of student reports will be fed back to students early in Term 2.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Report2,000 words60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)1 hr 15 mins40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)40.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2019


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