CP0222 - Political Geography: Place, Space and Power

SchoolCardiff School of Geography and Planning
Department CodeGEOPL0
Module CodeCP0222
External Subject CodeL723
Number of Credits20
Language of DeliveryEnglish
Module Leader Dr Richard Gale
SemesterSpring Semester
Academic Year2016/7

Outline Description of Module

This module introduces political geography and explores how its key concepts of place, space and power interrelate in shaping contemporary life. We examine key theoretical and empirical issues lying at the core of political geography, including: the interface between politics and the spatiality of government; the rise of the state and its territoriality; the geographical interplay of ideas of national belonging and nationalism; the scalar politics of place; and the inter-state relations – ‘geopolitics’ – that create globally extensive geographies of power. The module is delivered through a combination of conceptual and case-study materials with the aim of dramatizing the relevance of political geography to contemporary global issues.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

  1. Reveal through verbal and written communication a thorough grounding in the conceptual and empirical issues prevailing in political geography.
  2. Express in detail the relationships between politics and geography, the politics of place and identity, and the nation-state-territory nexus.
  3. Draw on historical and contemporary materials to explain how political patterns and processes impact at various spatial scales, from the global to the local.

How the module will be delivered

The module will be delivered through a combination of approaches, including: lectures, seminars, class debates/quizzes, Field Study Visits and guided independent study.

Skills that will be practised and developed


Whilst studying this module, students will practice and develop the following skills:


  1. Analytical skills: an ability to critique the conceptual ideas and empirical approaches that distinguish political geography from the political sciences and other fields of human geography.
  2. Group discussion: an ability to participate in informed discussion of key urban geographical concepts and case materials.
  3. Debating skills: an ability to engage in class debate in ways that reflect detailed understanding of key political geography themes.
  4. Written presentation of ideas: an ability to set out key ideas of the field in a coherent way, and to evaluate contending academic arguments.
  5. Responding to feedback: a capacity to take on board feed-back/-forward from the written assessment of the module and to build on these in the final examination.

How the module will be assessed

Students will be assessed through two mechanisms. The first is a written essay, which will explore an in-depth case-study, drawing on core concepts explored in the first half of the module. Feedback on this will provide the students with an opportunity to develop their thoughts in their second assessment, an unseen written examination. The combination of essay and examination in this module is to ensure both depth and breadth of student engagement




2000 words




1.5 hours








If any students with disability are not able to participate fully in the group work, appropriate individual coursework will be set instead.


The potential for reassessment in this module


Students are permitted to be reassessed in a module which they have failed, in line with the course regulations. The reassessment will usually take place during the summer


Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs) Period Week
Examination - Spring Semester 50
Political Geography: Place, Space And Power
1.5 1 N/A
Written Assessment 50
N/A 1 N/A

Syllabus content

The module begins with the main theoretical and foundational concepts of space, power and territoriality; globalisation, geographical scales and the state; identity, place and difference. Thereafter, we move on to empirically grounded applications of these concepts through engagement with particular case-studies. These cases are organised according to the different spatial scales to which they relate, from the politics of neighbourhood and place attachment, through city governance and urban movements to nation-state relations and ‘realpolitik’. However, a key concern of the course is to instil an understanding of how the politics that pertain to different spatial scales are often mutually constitutive and reinforcing.

Essential Reading and Resource List

Agnew, J., Mitchell, K. and Toal, G. (Eds.) (2002) A Companion to Political Geography. Oxford: Blackwell.


Blacksell, M. (2006) Political Geography. London: Routledge.


Painter, J. and Jeffrey, A. (2009) Political Geography: An Introduction to Space and Power. Sage. London.


Taylor, P. J. and Flint, C. (2000) Political Geography. World-Economy, Nation-State and Locality. Prentice Hall: Essex. Fourth Edition.

Background Reading and Resource List

Cox, K. (2002) Political Geography. Territory, State and Society. Oxford: Blackwell.


Dikshit, R. D. (Ed.) (1997) Developments in Political Geography. A Century of Progress. Sage Publications: London.


Gallaher, C., Dahlman, C., Gilmartin, M. and Mountz, A. (2009) Key Concepts in Political Geography. Sage. London.


Glassner, M. I. (1996) Political Geography. John Wiley and Sons: New York. Second Edition.


Jones, M., Jones, R. and Woods, M. (2004) An Introduction to Political Geography. London: Routledge.


Muir, R. (1997) Political Geography. An Introduction. Macmillan: London.

© Cardiff University