Module Catalogue 2024/25

GEO2236 : Between Two Unions: Ireland Human Geography Field Course

GEO2236 : Between Two Unions: Ireland Human Geography Field Course

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Niall Cunningham
  • Lecturer: Dr Adam Badger, Dr Alison Clarke
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Mixed Location
  • Capacity limit: 35 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Code Title
GEO2043Key Methods for Human Geographers
Co Requisite Comment

If you are a stage 2 student, you must take the co-requisite stage 2 module.


•       To develop a full and multidimensional understanding of the historical and spatial contexts surrounding current and potential economic and political tensions between the UK and Ireland and the the place of Northern Ireland in relation to those, thus empowering students with the conceptual tools and empirical knowledge to both engage with these debates and to fully apprehend the region's contemporary geopolitical significance.
•       To understand the historical context of colonization and independence struggles in the shaping of the political geographies of the contemporary island of Ireland.
•       To engage students with core concepts, established and evolving. Some of these core concepts will include:
o       Nationalism
o       Unionism
o       Segregation
o       Social class
o       Borders
•       To challenge students to think critically about the persistence, limitations, and changing meanings attached to persistent identities as observed through the everyday lived realities of different communities.
•       To provide opportunities for students to collaborate in the form of group tasks and activities which require the pooling of skills, resources and the ability to manage and delegate both time and activities.
•       To reflect on their own positionality and the possibilities and tensions that will emerge from their research interventions in the field.
•       To give students the opportunity to apply their learning and experience during the module in the development of individual reports that will ask them to synthesise their conceptual understanding, empirical research and personal reflections.

Outline Of Syllabus

Teaching and learning will comprise a series of weekly lectures and/or workshops during February and March. During this time, the sessions will start by setting the purpose, scope and structure for the module, before progressing into considerations of the historical context and conceptual themes that will provide students with the intellectual scaffolding they need in order to conduct their fieldwork. The preparatory sessions will evolve during these weeks from a lecture to a workshop format, as students are encouraged to start formulating research topics and to make contact with groups and individuals ahead of the fieldtrip itself. There will also be one post-fieldtrip workshop which will provide an opportunity for reflection on the actual experience and process of intervening in the field, including both the triumphs and challenges, enriching the potential for discussions on positionality. It will also be a space for data-sharing amongst team members and addressing questions about the final assessment.

Pre-field lectures/workshops

1.       Lecture: Introduction to the module and wider conceptual frameworks in social and urban geography
2.       Lecture: Between Two Unions: Historical, Political and Spatial Contexts
3.       Workshop: Conceptualising and Complicating Difference in the New Ireland. Workshop: Researching difference in urban space
4.       Workshop: Conducting Research in Field, Ethical Issues, Local and Universal. Workshop: Student fieldwork group development: Scoping, developing and testing ideas; Practicalities; Student fieldwork project development: Advanced planning and troubleshooting. Five-minute formative presentation on proposed research area.
5.       Drop-in: Optional troubleshooting drop-in session.

Fieldtrip Schedule

Day 1: Arrival and orientation in Belfast:
Day 2: Group project work.
Day 3: Group project work
Day 4: Travel from Belfast to Dublin. Orientation in Dublin.
Day 5: Group project work. Summative presentation.
Day 6: Group project work. Summative presentation feedback.
Day 7: Debrief and departure.

Post-field workshops

6.       Making Sense of It All: Reflections on positionality and the process of field research; data-sharing and addressing practical questions and concerns around assessment 2.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

•       To provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the historical, social and political contexts which have acted to catalyse enduring group identities on the island of Ireland
•       To enable students to understand the changing meanings and manifestations of those group identities
•       To develop an awareness of the significance of geographical scale and its relationship to power and history in the formation and transformation in individual and collective identities, from the local, to the regional, to the national and transnational
•       To deepen students' comprehension of a wide range of key concepts in social and political geography through their application to an evolving and urgent real-world setting
•       To empower students with the knowledge, confidence and insight to understand and contribute to current debates on the constitutional future of the UK and to provide them with the tools and experience to conduct future academic research in the field

Intended Skill Outcomes

•       The ability to digest, recapitulate and synthesise bodies of secondary material in order to prepare effectively for field research.
•       The ability to independently identify and develop pertinent and practicable lines of research enquiry.
•       The capacity to select and critique relevant data sources, commentaries, and secondary material that will be of benefit in the pursuance of those chosen lines of enquiry.
•       To consider and evaluate the value of a range of different methodologies in seeking to address research questions and to apply appropriate methods to chosen lines of research enquiry.
•       To collaborate and to work effectively as part of a team in order to realise shared research objectives.
•       To delegate responsibilities, encourage peers and to manage workloads effectively whilst working under constraints of both time and space.
•       To conduct primary field research in a professional and ethical manner that captures relevant sources in an effective and representable way.
•       To produce written and other materials that effectively synthesise and distil secondary literature, empirical findings and relevant conceptual insights.
•       To demonstrate the integrity to reflect with honesty on the challenges and triumphs of the research process and to articulate this through various forms of assessment.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture32:006:00PiP live
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion401:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops32:006:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork68:0048:00PiP live
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery32:006:00Two of these sessions will be optional film screenings (2x2hrs). One screening will relate to Belfast and the other to Dublin. The third session will be optional troubleshooting drop-in surgery in the week immediately before departure.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study941:0094:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The preparatory series of five sessions are sequenced so as to move from lecture through to workshop style delivery. The initial lectures facilitate the imparting of practical information around the module structure, expectations, modes of teaching and assessment. These are also important for familiarising students with the empirical landscape and issues, as there is no expectation that students will have prior knowledge of these. The lectures then progress to a more hybrid lecture/workshop format in the discussion of concepts before moving more fully to workshop format in the final two weeks as students form groups and develop their chosen project ideas with support from the lecturing staff. A brief (five-minute) formative presentation will provide students with the opportunity to test their ideas and gather feedback from staff and students.

During this time students will also be involved in their own independent study, engaging with set readings from the module whilst also identifying materials pertinent and specific to their own research projects as these develop and evolve.

Optional film screenings will provide students with the opportunity to enrich their understanding of contemporary Ireland and to deepen their working relationships with course colleagues. a further optional drop-in troubleshooting surgery will provide the opportunity for further preparation and reassurance before entering the field.

The fieldtrip itself provides the opportunity for students to apply their learning from the lectures, their independent study and the preparations they have made in order to successfully execute their research in the field. This provides the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned and how they prepared beyond the abstract setting of the University. As the students move towards summative evaluation, greater time will be dedicated to ‘assessment preparation and completion'. Towards the end of the fieldtrip, their will be summative group poster presentations (25% of module mark), allowing students to share what they have learned during the week, challenges that they have encountered in the research process and how they have attempted to overcome or deal with these.

A final post-fieldtrip workshop will allow students to discuss the research process, reflect on their findings, share data and ask practical questions relating to the second summative assessment (report: 75% of module mark).

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Examination2M2515 minute group poster presentation during fieldtrip.
Report2M75Individual report on research project (2,500 words) to be submitted after fieldtrip.
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Examination2MFive-minute presentation on proposed research topic, rationale and methods in final week of preparatory lectures/workshops before fieldtrip.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

In the final week of the series of five preparatory lectures/workshops, all students will be required to give a brief group oral presentation. This will be formatively assessed, with students receiving qualitative group feedback on their presentations before departure to the field site. The purpose of this assessment is fourfold:

-       firstly, to encourage students to focus their energies and to formulate meaningful and sustainable research topics at an early stage;
-       secondly, to familiarise students with the Oral Examination form of assessment at an early stage, providing a testing ground for the subsequent summative version;
-       thirdly, to give students an opportunity to test and probe the viability of research topics at a stage at which it will still be possible for them to reassess these as appropriate in advance of the fieldtrip itself;
-       and fourthly, to give non-presenting students an experience and expectation of what is required of them in terms of commenting on, and providing constructive and collegiate feedback to their peers.

The summative oral presentation, which will take place towards the end of the fieldtrip itself, therefore provides a logical progression from the formative pre-departure version. Students will be asked to collaborate on, and develop their 15-minute presentation with reference to supporting media, that could include a poster or visual/audio material of their choosing. This provides a methodological progression from the formative version, allowing the students to experiment and to extend their presentational skills in a collaborative context. This Oral Examination constitutes 25% of the overall module grade.

The terminal report, accounting for 75% of the overall marks for the module, provides the opportunity for individual students to demonstrate their contextual understanding and application of appropriate concepts and methodologies in addressing a valid and viable research topic. At this stage in the research process, students should have gathered sufficient materials, and absorbed a variety of secondary materials sufficient for this activity to act as a natural progression for them in allowing them to follow their own unique and independent research questions and instincts.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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