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GEO8030 : Geographical Inequalities and Policy

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Danny MacKinnon
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr Gainbi Park, Professor Louise Kempton, Dr Kean Fan Lim, Professor Stuart Dawley, Dr Emma Ormerod, Professor Rachel Franklin
  • Lecturer: Professor Andy Pike
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

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

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


To consider the relationships between changing patterns of spatial inequalities and the growth of the ‘geography of discontent’ and political populism, linking to debates on smart cites, ‘left behind places’ and inclusive innovation.

To develop an advanced understanding of changing patterns of spatial inequalities in wealth, income and opportunity an international context, focusing particularly on inequalities within countries.

To foster an increased awareness and understanding of how spatial inequalities are manifested and addressed in different policy spheres and across different geographical contexts.

To provide an advanced knowledge and understanding of conventional and alternative policy approaches and interventions designed to address spatial inequalities and how they have evolved over time

Outline Of Syllabus

Geographical inequalities, particularly those within countries, remain stubbornly high. Since the global financial crisis of 2008, they have become associated with increased political discontent, attracting renewed academic and policy interest. This proposed module first outlines the bigger, overarching shifts that are generating and reshaping geographical inequalities, particularly in terms of how they are manifest unevenly across cities and regions internationally, and considers different ways of understanding and tackling these inequalities. It then examines geographical inequalities within specific policy spheres and agendas (sustainability transition, infrastructure, housing, technology). The module subsequently discusses current manifestations of geographical inequalities in relation to debates on smart cities, ‘left behind places’ and inclusive innovation. Finally, it outlines alternative political and economic frameworks designed to promote more equitable and sustainable forms of development. The modules engages with a range of international case studies such as Barcelona, Newcastle, Pittsburgh, central France and the China-Mynamar border region to illustrate specific topics and issues.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:001 hour lecture for each session
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00Approx time for assessment work
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Linked 1 hour seminar for each session
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops13:003:00Workshop in which students present their assessed presentations
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1125:00125:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Each session will consist of a 1 hour lecture and a 1 hour seminar. The lectures will be primarily designed to deliver the intended knowledge outcomes, supported by the seminars. In each weekly session, students will be introduced to key concepts, ideas and approaches relating to contemporary spatial inequalities and policy. The main trends, challenges and debates will be outlined and discussed. These will be grounded in specific policy spheres and challenges and in specific geographical contexts. Case studies and examples will be used to provide further illustration and insight, particularly in terms of how broader patterns and processes intersect with local conditions and outcomes, providing a nuanced and sophisticated understanding. The seminars are designed primarily to foster the intended skill outcomes, particularly critical engagement, positioning and framing, developing arguments and synthesising and interpreting data. They will be interactive and student-focused, involving discussion of the taught and read material. The seminars will be based upon pre-set reading, including policy and media sources as well as academic papers. Students will be required to assess the approaches and claims of different authors and commentators, as well as the use of evidence and data, enabling them to develop their own arguments. The workshop based on student presentations will enable students to set out their approach to a particular issue or challenge and receive peer and staff feedback on this.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation1M2015 minutes
Report1M80Written project report, informed by feedback on oral presentation. 3500 words.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment methods are designed to relate to the learning outcomes. The individual project presentation assesses the programme participants’ ability to deliver through a written project a coherent, reasoned and critical argument of length developed from extensive reading and discussion. The topic for the project will be suggested by the student and agreed with the module leader. The topic chosen should reflect the connection between issues covered on the module and appropriate empirical material. It may connect with the student’s individual and/or work-based concerns. The oral presentation will assess students’ abilities to communicate and present the contents of the project. The presentation is designed to provide an outline of the theoretical, empirical and/or policy aspects of the project. The intention is that the oral presentation provides an opportunity for feedback and discussion about the participant’s topic, feeding into the written project.

Reading Lists