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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Geopolitics (PLIT10163)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryGeography was once assumed to be natural, but the spatial division of the world is anything but. Historically and today, struggles persist over the ownership, administration, and domination of space. This course introduces students to the spectrum of geopolitical thought that tries to account for the relationship between geography and politics. The course provides a genealogy of geopolitical thought and practice. This accounts for its early 20th century imperial and colonial associations to how the recent pluralisation of approaches has addressed the way space is socially constructed and contested.

Focusing on how recent developments in the study of space and politics are increasingly interdisciplinary, the course will introduce students to new ways of approaching topics like territory, sovereignty, borders, militarism, everyday life, and security. By exploring the interdisciplinary features of contemporary geopolitical thought, students will practice how to think and analyse the spatial dimensions of politics from the local to the global level.
Course description The study of geopolitics has evolved over the last 100 years from what is referred to as classical geopolitics, to the emergence of critical geopolitics, to an increasing diversification of approaches and subjects of geopolitical analysis. The aim of this course is to introduce students to the history of geopolitical thought and study. Practically it will equip them with the skills to design and conduct a research essay of their own that critically engages with key concepts from the study of geopolitics.

Topics may include:

- Geopolitical thought
- Classical Geopolitics
- Critical Geopolitics
- Popular Geopolitics
- Vertical Geopolitics
- Feminist Geopolitics
- Space and place
- Borders and cartography
- Territory and sovereignty
- Climate change and the environment
- Technology and geopolitics
- Warfare and geopolitics
- Popular culture and geopolitics
- Geopolitics beyond the planet

This course introduces students to the questions such as: How should we account for the spatial dimensions of politics? What is the history of geopolitical thinking? What distinguishes traditional geopolitics from critical geopolitics? How does culture shape geopolitical thinking? How does studying popular culture expand our appreciation and analysis of geopolitics? What does this all mean for the way we study international politics?

The course will be taught weekly through a combination of lectures and tutorials designed to allow students to critically engage with the weeks' compulsory readings and work towards their research essay.

In brief, the course will introduce students to the literature on orthodox and critical geopolitics and how these can be applied to the study of politics. By the end of the course students will have acquired the conceptual and analytical tools to design and develop a research essay on a topic of their choosing that draws on the wide range of approaches and concepts that comprise the study of geopolitics.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012) OR Politics and International Relations 1A: Concepts and Debates (PLIT08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who lack the compulsory pre-requisites but have completed comparable courses should contact the Course Organiser.

Knowledge acquired in the following courses will be highly beneficial for students, but is not required: Theories of International Relations (PLIT08021) or Foundations of Global Security (PLIT10154).
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 4 Politics/International Relations courses, one of which is security themed, at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 164 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1 Research Essay. This will be on a course topic of students choosing. Question and focus will be developed in conjunction with course organiser and will include the submission of a formative essay proposal of 750 words. (3000 words) 80%

2 Tutorial Reading Log. Students will be asked to bring a short critical reflection on a weekly reading to each tutorial. They will then submit 7 of their choosing at the end of the semester. (7 entries of 150-200 words each) 20%
Feedback Lecture and tutorial time in the second half of the course will be dedicated to student peer reviews of each other's essay proposals. This will be overseen by the course organiser.

Feedback from the course organiser on formative essay proposals will be provided before students submit their final essay.

There will be weekly in-tutorial formative feedback on the reading logs before they are submitted.

Feedback on all assessed work shall normally be returned within three weeks of submission. Where this is not possible, students shall be given clear expectations regarding the timing and methods of feedback.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Identify the features, contributions, and differences between orthodox, critical, and popular geopolitics.
  2. Evaluate the key features of geopolitical thought within their historical and social context.
  3. Analyse and examine key theories and debates in the study of geopolitics
  4. Apply the concepts and frameworks from the literature to the study of contemporary geopolitics.
Reading List
Dittmer, Jason and Daniel Bos (2019) Popular Culture, Geopolitics, and Identity. London: Rowman and Littlefield.

Dittmer, Jason and Jo Sharp eds. (2014) Geopolitics An Introductory Reader. London: Routledge.

Dixon, Deborah (2015) Feminist Geopolitics. London: Routledge

Dodds, Klaus and David Atkinson eds. (2000) Geopolitical Traditions: a century of geopolitical thought. New York: Routledge.

Tuathail, Gearoid. (1996) Critical Geopolitics: The Politics of Writing Global Space. London: Routledge.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. Ability to critically engage, appraise, and synthesize a range of diverse academic literature
2. Enhanced ability to deploy complex theoretical literature to empirical issues
3. Improved communication skills to present complex theoretical arguments in verbal and written form.
4. Enhanced research skills developed during tutorials to identify and develop a research question
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Benjamin Coulson
Course secretaryMs Agata Lebiedzinska
Tel: (01316) 515197
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