BA Geography with International Study / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Moral Geographies

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG21432
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course takes a geographical approach to some of the world’s most complex moral issues.

We live in a world that is saturated with information, opinion and debate. The rise of the internet, smartphones, and social media have made comment and opinion on every topic imaginable more available and more numerous than ever. Yet in many ways we are becoming more polarised and unable to reach a consensus. This matters when there are serious, pressing problems to solve. It also makes the pursuit of reason and truth more important than ever.  

When we talk about politics, the environment and society, we make value judgement about the world. What we judge to be right or wrong is usually implicit in what we say, but we don’t usually reflect on the foundations of our beliefs and assumptions. Hence, we need to develop our critical thinking skills to reflect on why we believe certain things to be right or true. Hopefully, by questioning our implicit assumptions, we can improve our ability to write, discuss, and debate in a more logical and reasoned manner.

Moral Geographies will appeal to students who interested in discussing politics and morality with an open-mind. You might already be sceptical of claims to truth and certainty, or sometimes just unsure about what to think. You might be someone who finds that the more you learn about a topic, the less fixed in your view you become are about it.

Moral Geographies explores a range of contemporary issues from a geographical perspective that embraces knowledge from multiple disciplines in order to grapple with real-world complexity. The unit will explore these issues using a context-sensitive approach, embracing not only key geographical thinkers, but also philosophers, political scientists, sociologists, psychologists and economists. Each week we will take a different topic and case study, outline the key parameters of the debate, before uncovering and grappling with some of the dilemmas associated with the topic.

Through a genuinely open approach, unafraid of tackling ‘dangerous ideas’, Moral Geographies aims to get you to engage critically with your own and others’ beliefs, while equipping you with the tools to better navigate complex and uncertain moral terrain.



  • To explore the morally complex nature of a range of topical issues facing the world today
  • To appreciate the role of a geographical approach in tackling a number of contemporary moral conflicts
  • To embrace an ‘all of the above’, inter-disciplinary and multi-media approach to tackling moral questions
  • To bring theories and arguments to life using case studies
  • To discuss and debate moral questions in an inclusive and constructive manner 


Topics covered include freedom of speech, inequality, ethical consumption, and geopolitics.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures: 10 x 2-hour synchronous lectures (20 hours)
Seminars: 10 x 1-hour synchronous seminars (10 hours)

Knowledge and understanding

  • Critically engage with moral geographies as a distinct field of geographical research.
  • Understand the relationship between moral philosophy and a geographical approach.
  • Better navigate the polarised debates that dominate contemporary society by taking a genuinely critical and sceptical approach to knowledge.

Intellectual skills

  • Independently research and write about a contemporary moral conflict.
  • Critical thinking and self-reflection.
  • Debating and making an argument in a logical and reasoned manner.
  • An ability to consider the merits of contrasting theories and approaches.

Practical skills

  • Be able to apply the critical and analytical skills developed during the course in your dissertation and in everyday life.
  • An ability to understand the real-world complexity of many contemporary issues.
  • Information handling skills, evaluation and analysis of different kinds of evidence

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Reflect on your own values and those of others, in both a personal and professional context
  • Motivation and self-directed learning
  • Awareness of your own values, assumptions and biases

Assessment methods

Assessment taskLengthHow and when feedback is provided

Weighting within unit (if relevant)


Coursework essay2,000 wordsGrade and written feedback via Turnitin      50%


Open-Book Exam


2,000 words


Grade and written feedback via Turnitin




Recommended reading

  • Appiah, K.A. (2018) The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity. London: Profile Books
  • Couper, P. (2015) A Student’s Introduction to Geographical Thought: Theories, Philosophies, Methodologies. London: Sage.
  • Khanna, R. (2022) Dignity in a Digital Age: Making Tech Work for All of Us. New York: Simon and Schuster.
  • Kolbert, E. (2014) The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. London: Bloomsbury
  • Midgley, M. (1999) ‘Towards an ethic of global responsibility’, in Dunne, T. and Wheeler, N.J. (Eds.) Human Rights in Global Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Sandel, M. (2009) Justice: What’s The Right Thing to Do? London: Penguin.


Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ross Jones Unit coordinator

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