BASS Politics and Sociology

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Power, Space & Popular Culture: Thinking Critically About Geopolitics

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI30461
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course aims to

1.    Equip students to critically investigate geopolitical discourses and representations.

2.    To give students good grounding in trends in geopolitical thinking from classical geopolitical geopolitics to the geopolitics of the war on terror.

3.    To understand how a variety of media (scholarly texts, policy documents, military doctrine, films, television, comics) shape imagined geographies of identity, power, and threat in global politics.

Teaching and learning methods

Students will be expected to read key texts and consider textual and visual material that illustrate the topics under consideration. The core literature and key themes will be outlined in lectures. Lectures will also provide a space for student to clarify questions they have about readings. Tutorials provide a space for students to engage peers, develop their arguments and seek clarification form the module leader.

Knowledge and understanding

  1. Explain the key assumptions and conceptual propositions of classical geopolitics.
  2. Understand critical approaches to geopolitics.
  3. Show the way in which representations and discourse are constitutive of imagined geographies of global politics.

Intellectual skills

  1. Understand visual and discursive methods in the study of global politics
  2. Interrogate key texts and concepts
  3. Construct, critique and defend arguments

Practical skills

  1. Independent research to support essay writing
  2. Articulate written arguments and support them with empirical illustration
  3. Interpret textual and visual material

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  1. Critical thinking
  2. Constructive criticism and engagement with peers
  3. Independent working

Assessment methods

Concept note/popular culture analysis: 1600 words (40%) - This assessment has two parts. In the first part students will be asked to examine a key concept. In the second the students will be asked to apply their understanding to a popular culture artefact.

Essay: 2400 words (60%) This is a standard essay in which students will be asked to synthesise their knowledge from the course and apply it to empirical examples. 

Feedback methods

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission.

Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.

For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results.

You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor.

On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be of a more informal kind and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff

Recommended reading

  • Dittmer, J. Geopolitics: An Introductory Reader. London: Routledge, 2014
  • Dittmer, J. Popular Culture, Geopolitics, and Identity. Plymouth: Rowman and Littlefield, 2010
  • Flint, C. Introduction to Geopolitics. 3rd ed. London: Routledge, 2016
  • Ingram, A & Dodds, K eds. Spaces of Security and Insecurity: Geographies of the War on Terror. London: Ashgate, 2009
  • Said, E. Orientalism. London: Penguin, 2003
  • Shapiro, Michael, J. Violent Cartographies. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1997
  • Toal, G. Critical Geopolitics. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1996
  • Toal, G. Dalby, S & Routledge, P eds. The Geopolitics Reader. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2006

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Martin Coward Unit coordinator

Return to course details