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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

GEOG2470 Sicily: Exploring the Migration Crisis

20 creditsClass Size: 24

Module manager: Glenda Garelli

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is mutually exclusive with

GEOG2041Helsinki: urban growth and sustainability
GEOG2042Montpellier: urban and rural development
GEOG2043Belgrade: urban and social geographies of a Balkan city

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Focused on the challenges and opportunities of global migration, this week-long fieldtrip to Sicily will visit the Italian region where most migrants travelling to Europe through the central Mediterranean route end up landing. Our fieldtrip is centred on the two most important cities in Sicily – Catania and Palermo – which are particularly interesting vantage points for understanding the systems and politics of integrating migrants within a culturally vibrant, economically weak, and institutionally complex local context. We will explore how a traditional tourist-based economy has been complemented by a new migration industry that has brought different actors to the island linked to border enforcement, humanitarian aid, public media services, and civil society engagement. The fieldtrip includes both lecturer directed work and independent investigation in the field. The trip is prefaced by lectures, seminars and group learning.


The key aims of this module are to provide students with:

- an appreciation of the complex geographies of the global migration crisis and the dynamic effects on the urban environments of Sicily in Italy through a week of fieldwork on the island;
- the opportunity to explore contemporary debates about belonging, globalization and migration and the geographies of difference and inequality with particular reference to migration, ethnicity, class, gender and the humanitarian crises;
- an understanding of the contradictory role of technology in humanitarian crisis management;
- an ability to undertake independent field research, plan projects and write reports.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module, the student should have acquired:

1. An understanding of key theories within human geography, especially those regarding migration and displacement, integration and settlement, segregation and social exclusion, humanitarian crisis and moral economies;

2. An appreciation of the role of migrants, NGOs, and migration management actors in the shaping and transformation of the culture, economy, and politics of cities;

3. An understanding of key policy debates and implementation frameworks for managing humanitarian crises and migration flows;

4. Awareness of research design issues, particularly in relation to participatory action research methods, researcher positionality, and visual documentation ethics;

5. Skills in the identification, collection and representation of a variety of information and data sources;

6. An understanding of the practical application of concepts and methods learnt in the classroom.

Skills outcomes
QAA subject-specific skills

- spatial awareness and observation
- abstraction and synthesis of information
- developing a reasoned argument
- assessing the merits of contrasting theories and explanations
- preparing effective maps, diagrams and visualisations
- primary data generation, collection and recording, and the use of secondary data sets (both quantitative and qualitative)
- critically evaluating, interpreting and combining different types of geographical evidence (for example texts, imagery, archival data, maps, digitised and laboratory data)
- analysis and problem-solving through quantitative and qualitative methods
- planning, designing and executing a piece of rigorous research or enquiry, both independently and in groups, including the production of a final report
- conducting fieldwork and field data collection
- employing a variety of interpretative methods (for example, participant observation, ethnographic interviews, and auto-ethnography)
- employing a variety of social survey methods (for example questionnaire surveys and structured interviews)
- taking responsibility for learning and reflection upon that learning
- recognising the moral, ethical and safety issues involved in all aspects of geographical enquiry

QAA knowledge and understanding
- understand the complex relationships between natural and human aspects of environments and landscapes.
- the concept of spatial variation
- an appreciation of temporal change
- a critical awareness of the significance of spatial and temporal scale
- distinctiveness of place
- knowledge of the main dimensions and scales of economic, social, political and environmental inequality and difference
- knowledge and critical understanding of the diverse manners of representation
- principles of research design
- geographical knowledge and understanding
- field skills


The module syllabus is drawn from the following themes and topics:
- Migration crises: geopolitical challenges, border issues, and local responses;
- Migrants’ arrival at the port: institutions and processes dealing with landing, medical triage, asylum claims, and hosting;
- Housing: the variegated landscape of hosting facilities for migrants and refugees in Italy;
- Integration: institution-, activist-, and migrant-led initiatives geared toward integration;
- Legal support: the work of university legal clinics;
- Humanitarian aid: organizations, type of support offered, under-covered needs;
- Documenting migration crises: methodological challenges and ethical issues linked to data collection approaches;
- Migration crises and knowledge: knowledge production linked to migration crises;
- Economic development, tourism industry, and the migration crisis.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Group learning31.003.00
Private study hours138.00
Total Contact hours62.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Private study will take the following forms:
c46 hours for general reading to prepare for and supplement lectures and seminars;
c46 hours reading to prepare for the field trip;
c46 hours reading to prepare research and conduct the assessments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Through group project proposal before fieldtrip departure and individual projects in forms of a written essay, discussion of literature and films in the pre-fieldtrip lectures and seminars.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportIndividual 3,000 word report70.00
Group ProjectField activity proposal submitted prior to fieldtrip (1000 word equivalent)30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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: 08/05/2019


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