CP0242 - Social Geography

SchoolCardiff School of Planning and Geography
Department CodeCPLAN0
Module CodeCP0242
External Subject CodeL700
Number of Credits20
Language of DeliveryEnglish
Module Leader Dr Richard Gale
SemesterSpring Semester
Academic Year2013/4

Outline Description of Module

This module provides a detailed introduction to social geography, a key sub-field of the wider discipline of human geography. Whilst in theoretical terms social geography shares much overlap with cultural geography, not least in its approach to the themes of identity and socio-cultural ‘difference’, social geographical inquiry is distinguished from other fields through its focus on the spatiality of social divisions and disadvantage, and its corresponding concern with socio-spatial (in)justice. The forms taken by these concerns are broad, including: the geographical expression and constitution of social polarisation and exclusion; the effects of population change on cities, rural spaces and neighbourhoods; the cultural and socio-economic impact of internal and international migration; the changing geographies of ‘work’ and of the relations between home and workspaces; and the geographies of gender, ‘race’ and class and their intersections. Whilst engaging with each of these longstanding social geographical topics, we also consider emergent sub-disciplinary themes, including ‘new’ social geographies of youth transitions, the geography of aging, and the socio-spatial effects of economic globalisation and welfare reform.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

  1. Devise and hone social geographical research questions;
  2. Bring critical analytical skills to bear on key topics and debates in social geography;
  3. Shape and articulate social geographical arguments, including the ability to evaluate contending positions within the research literature.
  4. Present topic specific material clearly and concisely in the form of oral presentations.

How the module will be delivered

This module will be delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars framed around small group discussion, and short visits to different socio-cultural areas in and around Cardiff. The lectures will focus upon specific topics within social geography, whilst seminars will be based upon an amalgam of both classic and contemporary readings in social geography. Discussion in seminars will be structured to enable class members to take up and defend mock adversarial positions, allowing the honing of core analytical and debating skills.

Skills that will be practised and developed

Above all, students will have the opportunity to develop critical thinking and analysis skills, evaluating the validity of research findings and claims and the coherence of academic arguments, while reflecting these in their own written and group presentation work. Students will also be expected to work in groups in the group presentation component of the module, honing their presentation skills and engaging in peer-led discussion. The essay will offer the opportunity to develop written skills and the use of evidence-based arguments.

How the module will be assessed

There are two assessed components to the module, including a group presentation (with accompanying peer-led discussion) and a written essay. Both components will encompass summative and formative approaches to assessment, with individual feedback on essays and allotted class discussion time to address patterns in the responses given by students to the essay and the group presentation/discussion.

Type of assessment





(if applicable)

Approx. date of Assessment

Essay (2000 words)




Mid March

Written examination




Mid May

The potential for reassessment in this module

The two assessed components are aggregated into an overall mark. In the event that you fail the module without extenuating circumstances, you may retake the module during the summer period for a maximum mark of 40%.

Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs) Period Week
Written Assessment 50
Social Geography
N/A 1 N/A
Examination - Spring Semester 50
Social Geography
1.5 1 N/A

Syllabus content

The module is intended as an introduction to the key themes and debates characterising contemporary social geography. The introduction will cover the history of approaches and paradigms in the field, and each week thereafter will be devoted to specific topics and their intersections. Themes addressed by the module will include: the spatiality of poverty and social exclusion; geographies of housing and homelessness; the scalar geography and impact of internal and international migration; ‘new’ geographies of gender, ‘race’, class and ‘intersectional’ identities; the spaces of rural poverty; geographies of the life-course; changing geographies of work and home; and socio-spatial mobility. The module review will further explore the interrelation of these topics and prepare for the end of module examination.

Essential Reading and Resource List

Burrows, R. and Rhodes, D. (1998)Unpopular Places? Area Disadvantage and the Geography of Disadvantage of Misery in England, Bristol: Policy Press.


Casino, V. (2009) Social Geography: A Critical Introduction, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.


Cater, J. and Jones, T. (1989)Social Geography: An Introduction to Contemporary Issues, London: Edward Arnold.


Cloke, P., Crang, P. and Goodwin, M. (2009)Introducing Human Geographies London: Hodder Arnold.


Kaplinsky, R. (2005)Globalisation, Poverty and Inequality Cambridge: Polity Press.


Knox, P.L. (1995)Urban Social Geography: An Introduction (3rd Edition), Harlow: Longman Scientific and Technical.


Ley, D. (1983)A Social Geography of the City, New York: Harper and Row.


Pacione, M. (1987)Social Geography: Progress and Prospect, London: Croom Helm.


Philo, C. (1995) Off the Map: The Social Geography of Poverty in the UK, London: Child Poverty Action Group.


Short, J. R. (2000)Global dimensions: space, place and the contemporary world London: Reaktion


Sibley, D. (1995)Geographies of Exclusion: Society and Difference in the West, London: Routledge

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