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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Geography

Undergraduate Course: Geographies of the Border (GEGR10126)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryBorders are instrumental to our daily lives: they connect, divide, reorient, prohibit and facilitate relations in society, in politics, and in the economy. They are often associated with violence and instability (as on the US-Mexico border), and remain at the heart of many of our contemporary debates (including Brexit). This course will provide an introduction to some of the ways that geographers and other scholars have conceptualised borders, and will equip students with the analytical and theoretical tools to identify and critique the many ways that borders shape the world around them.
Course description In the past 30 years, the discipline of 'border studies' has developed partly in response to growing concerns around the role of borders and boundaries in fostering instability, conflict and human rights abuses. Intractable border conflicts stemming from decolonization processes, from post WWII reorganisation, from settler colonial expansionist agendas, and from internal civil conflict contribute to the need for scholars to explore, theorise and address the histories, politics and economics of borders and boundaries in the contemporary world.
Borders take many forms, and exist across many scales. The most obvious type is the international border that defines the territory of one nation-state from another. Administrative borders that identify units within nation-states are also well understood. Yet borders exist beyond the confines of the political map, through what many scholars call 'border technologies' and 'border regimes'. Borders exist at the airport and at ferry ports, in law offices, courts of law, hospitals, schools, and other government facilities. They are enacted through increasingly systematised and digitized mechanisms, and include the use of biometric data, personal histories of health and mobility, economic means testing, and forms of social difference. Geographers like Louise Amoore, Reece Jones and Corey Johnson, and David Newman have written about the multiple technologies that are mobilised and triangulated for such purposes.
Borders are often on the front page of the news media, sitting at the heart of issues around forced migration and asylum law, conflict and warfare, economic development, and nationalist political agendas. Some scholars, like Wendy Brown, Michael Dear, and Eyal Weizman, examine the physicality and architecture of bordering walls, while other, like Matthew Sparke, focus on the legal frameworks that allow some migrants through borders and prohibit others from crossing.
This course will provide students with an introduction to the issues, debates, literature and theoretical underpinnings of the field of Border Studies. It will do so through a two-pronged approach: empirical case studies will be examined with reference to 1) key readings in critical theory and 2) an appropriate methodological approach.

This course is open to 3rd and 4th year Geography and Geography pathway students.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is open to 3rd and 4th year Geography and Geography pathway students.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  45
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% Coursework
Book Review (1,000 words): to be selected from a list of titles provided in the course syllabus - 30%
Coursework Essay (3,000 words) - 70%

Assessment deadlines
Book Review: Week 5
Coursework Essay: Week 11
Feedback Formative feedback based on discussion group activities will be provided throughout the course, at the end of the sessions, in office hours, and during the revision session.

Formal written feedback will be provided on book review assessment submitted in time for action for next submission, and in accordance with University policies.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Resit Exam Diet (August)3:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Identify and synthesise the key theories and conceptual frameworks that scholars use to understand borders.
  2. Apply, in discussion and in writing, critical theoretical lenses to real-world border contexts.
  3. Evaluate a variety of primary and secondary material, including cultural representation, media reporting, photojournalism and historical documentation, with creative reference to theoretical frameworks and wider contexts.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to independently and critically read and analyse academic texts in writing and in discussion.
  5. Communicate complex information effectively and clearly.
Reading List
Essential Reading:

1) Nail, T. (2016) Theory of the Border. Oxford: OUP.

2) Foucault, M. (1977) Discipline and Punish. New York: Vintage Books.

3) Newman, D. (2017) Borders, Boundaries and Borderlands. International Encyclopedia of Geography.

4) Brown, W. (2010) Walled States, Waning Sovereignty. Brooklyn, NY: ZONE Books.

5) Angew, J. (2008) Borders on the mind: Re-framing border thinking. Ethics and Global Politics 1 (4).

6) Paasi, A. (2003) Boundaries in a Globalizing world. Handbook of Cultural Geography. London:SAGE.

7) Wilson, T. and Hastings, D. (2016) A Companion to Border Studies. Oxford: Blackwell.

Additional Reading:
1) Dear, M. (2013) Why Walls Won't Work. Oxford: OUP.
2) Chester, L. (2010) Borders and Conflict in South Asia. Manchester University Press.
3) Weizman, E. (2017) Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability. New York: ZONE Books.
4) Jones, R. (2016) Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move. New York: Verso.
5) Vaughn-Williams, N. (2009) Border Politics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
6) Donnan, H and Wilson, T. (eds) (2010) Borderlands: Ethnographic approaches to security, power and identity.
7) Brunet-Jailly, E. (2007) Borderlands: Comparing Border Security in North America and Europe.
8) Sparke, M. (2006) A neoliberal nexus: citizenship, security and the future of the border, Political Geography 25(2), 151-180
9) Caldeira, T. (2000) City of Walls. Berkeley: University of California Press.
10) Nash, C., Reid, B., Graham, B. (2013) Partitioned Lives: The Irish Borderlands. London: Ashgate
11) Butalia, U. (ed) (2015) Partition: The Long Shadow. London: Penguin
12) Zaminder, V. (2010) The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia. New York: Columbia University Press.
13) Jones, R. (2012) Border Walls. New York: Zed Books
14) Jones, R. and Johnson, C. (2016) Placing the Border in Everyday Life. New York: Routledge
15) Nicol, H. and Townsend-Gault, I. (2005) Holding the Line: Borders in a Global World. Vancouver: UBC press
16) Rose, B. (2005). The Lost Border: the landscape of the Iron Curtain. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the political, social, cultural and economic implications of bordering regimes and technologies. They will develop the interdisciplinary competencies required for engagement with the multiple dimensions of contemporary border issues, including security, human rights, justice and economic development. They will also learn to source and use a variety of materials- scholarly literature, photographs, documentaries and films, fiction, media articles- for the investigation of the complexities of understanding, maintaining, and challenging border regimes. Transferable skills gained will include that of working in groups, creative and critical reading, including working with long monographs and written documents, effective writing to short deadlines, and synthesising a variety of disparate materials for a wider audience.
KeywordsBorder studies; Geography
Course organiserDr Hannah Fitzpatrick
Tel: (0131 6)50 2294
Course secretaryMiss Leigh Corstorphine
Tel: (01316) 502572
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