University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Geography

Undergraduate Course: The Blue Humanities: Studying the Sea (GEGR10128)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
Summary'The Blue Humanities: Studying the Sea' enables students to think creatively, critically, environmentally and geographically about the place of our seas and oceans, in the past, in the present and for the planet's future. Course content considers the arts and the sciences of the sea, providing diverse learning opportunities that swap the classroom for the coast and ultimately, a field trip on the open wave. The Blue Humanities is a course suited to students who care about the state of the world's oceans, and are interested in understanding the cultural significance of marine environments, maritime lifeworlds and coastal communities. It will call on students' creative abilities and critical skills to re-imagine the life of the sea.
Course description This course considers how the planet's seas and oceans forge complex connections between people, between communities, and between the human and non-human. Drawing on a humanities tradition of critical interdisciplinary inquiry, it considers how the arts (literary, cinematic, visual, performing) and the sciences (oceanographic, geophysical, ecological) have variously configured coastal, maritime and marine worlds, and reflected changing kinds of economic, colonial, cultural and environmental concerns. The course requires students to develop critical perspectives on oceanic imaginaries of the past, present and future. Course content is provided through a range of teaching and learning modes, variously: illustrated lectures, small group practical exercises, open air field classes, film screenings and student-led debates. Through completion of coursework assignments based on localised case studies and through active engagement in coastal community life and marine environments proximate to Edinburgh, the course will help foster values of social responsibility and sustainability.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  40
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 28, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 168 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 40 %, Coursework 60 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course will be assessed through two coursework assignments (total 60%) and one exam (40%).

1) Keeping a Sea Journal (25%): Textual: a notebook, containing ideas and images committed to the page (1500 words) OR Digital: a short vlog (no longer than 5 minutes in duration).
2) Knowing the Sea (35%): an assignment requiring students to integrate conceptual ideas and arguments drawn from academic literature, with, the sea-lore, local knowledge and global history associated with selected creature/organism or maritime object/device. (2000 words)

Five questions- answer ONE (40%)

Assessment deadlines:
Sea Journal: Week 6
Knowing the Sea Essay: Week 10
Feedback Each student will receive individual written feedback and associated grade for the two pieces of assessed coursework. Student will have the opportunity to request a meeting to discuss assignment feedback provided. Entire class will be provided with a general report on each assignment task undertaken, detailing general levels of degree-class performance, with summative feedback highlighting areas of best practice, and areas for attention/improvement.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)1:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the cultural relationship between societies and coastal/marine environments as complexly constructed, in the past and the present, variously forged through the arts, science, empire and industry.
  2. Source, assemble, interpret, evaluate and employ evidence from a variety of historical and geographical contexts, local sites and digital media, to inform oral and written arguments in the Blue Humanities
  3. Critically evaluate empirical studies of particular coastal and marine phenomena in light of recent theoretical work in cultural geography and the environmental humanities.
  4. Appreciate the contribution that geography degree studies can make to community life and local environments, fostering values of social responsibility and sustainability.
Reading List
Abbreviated Reading List:
Alaimo, S. (2016) Exposed: environmental politics and pleasures in posthuman times (University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis)

Anderson, J. and Peters, K. (eds.) (2016) Water worlds: human geographies of the ocean (Routledge, London)

Brown, M. and Peters, K. (eds.) (2018) Living with the sea: knowledge, awareness and action (Routledge, London)

Ghosh, G. (2009) Sea of poppies (John Murray, London)

Gillies, J.R. (2015) The human shore: seacoasts in history (University of Chicago Press, Chicago

Gilroy, P. (1993) The black Atlantic: modernity and double consciousness (Verso, London)

Hau┐ofa, E. (2008) We are the ocean: selected works (University of Hawai┐I Press, Honolulu)

Helmreich, S. (2016) Sounding the limits of life: essays in the anthropology of biology and beyond (Princeton University Press, Princeton)

Kugler, O. (2018) Escaping wars and waves: encounters with Syrian refugees (Myriad editions, London)

Levinson, M. (2016) The box: how the shipping container made the world smaller and the economy bigger (Princeton University Press, Princeton)

Neimansis, A. (2017). Bodies of water: posthuman feminist phenomenology (Bloomsbury, London)

Probyn, E. (2016) Eating the ocean (Duke University Press, Durham, US)

Sorrenson, R. (1996) ┐The ship as a scientific instrument in the eighteenth century┐, Osiris 11: 221-236

Steinberg, P.R. (2013) ┐Of other seas: metaphors and materialities in maritime regions┐, Atlantic Studies, 10 (2): 156-169

Steinberg, P. and Peters, K. (2015) ┐Wet ontologies, fluid spaces: giving depth to volume through oceanic thinking┐, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 33:247-264
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1) Analyse environmental concepts and geographical ideas critically.
2) Present arguments orally in small group discussions and through interpretive exercises.
3) Document experience and observations in text and/or videography, using basic editing and formatting to create a finished product.
4) Creatively construct a written critical argument based on library resources and online material, confirming to academic conventions in terms of citations and referencing.
5) Plan and work effectively to meet assignment deadlines.
KeywordsCultural Geography,Humanities,Arts,Sciences,Sustainability,Seas,oceans,Coasts,Water
Course organiserProf Hayden Lorimer
Course secretaryMiss Carry Arnold
Tel: (0131 6)50 9847
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information