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GEO3159 : Migration, Bordering and Solidarities

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Caleb Johnston
  • Lecturer: Dr Malene Jacobsen
  • 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 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module engages the movement of different people from different places in the world: from refugees violently dispersed by conflict and climate change to those seeking care for loved ones, asylum seekers trapped in bureaucratic violence to global health migrants trying to secure a better future for their families. We examine the processes, practices, and poetics of contemporary migration and displacement.

The aims of the course are to:

- Introduce key concepts and debates surrounding the geographical study of contemporary migration and displacement.

- Provide grounded understanding of the processes, practices and poetics shaping global and local migrations.

- Understand how lived experiences of dispersal shape different transnational forms of identity, cultural practice, and political solidarity.

- Apply qualitative research skills in creative practice.

- Provide knowledge and skills that can support advocacy work.

Outline Of Syllabus

Our work is divided into different thematic sections. The first theme unpacks the force of enclosure, which is increasing constricting and limiting the lives and options of refugees displaced by violence. We look at bordering practices and carceral architectures, including the ways in which people experience, negotiate and resist state violence and new technologies of control and surveillance. The second theme examines varied routes of migration, global to local responses to displacement, sanctuary cities, and new social relations produced in and through mobility and resettlement.

We also recognise that migration is never simply a site of violence and destitution. Far from it. Working with the realisation that our collective geography is shaped so much more by relations and exchange than fixity, the third theme examines how peoples’ movement has long produced a rich range of trans-bordering attachments, belongings and interconnecting cultural forms. We are interested in how people forge and maintain connections and create complex socio-cultural identities and practices and political solidarities.

In this module, you will learn from lectures, course readings, and popular non-textual forms such as films, graphic novels, podcasts, and music. Lastly, this course is dedicated to a deepening the relationship between Newcastle University and local refugee and migrant advocacy organisations and individuals in Newcastle Upon Tyne. The module seeks to facilitate exchange between students and migrants and make a direct contribution to the local organising of advocacy organisations.

Potential lectures and topics of the course may include:

Borders and bordering
Detention, outsourcing and the end of the asylum in the UK
The Politics of Living
Labour migration
Medical migrants and new futures of care
Multiculturalism and relations beyond settler colonialism
Climate-migration activism
Musical entanglements

Module Format
The module is structured by two weekly components. The first is a lecture series in which you will be introduced to key issues, readings, and concepts relevant to the study of migration and displacement. The second section of the module offers more ‘hands-on’ learning through in-class weekly workshops and seminars. These sessions will cover a range of activities, including the skills needed to develop your zine project (don’t worry if you don’t know yet what that involves – it’s fun and creative and political). Weekly seminars will also include engagement and discussion on a curated film series and readings. We include a rich range of readings and listening in this module, which reach from academic articles to podcasts, graphic novels to poetry. Weekly seminars may include encounter and small-group discussion with members of Newcastle’s refugee and migrant community. And finally, seminar time may be spent planning and developing an event with a local refugee organisation. This last activity is dependent on resources provided by the University.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials101:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion301:0030:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading189:0089:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops102:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity150:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module is structured in thematic blocks, each addressing a key dynamic and trend of migration and displacement. Introducing key concepts and issues, the module’s lecture series is delivered in concert with weekly seminars which include workshops, curated film screenings, and visits from the local migrant and refugee community. These elements will collectively enable students to engage with the themes and issues of the module in an intensive way with first-hand guidance from staff. We encourage and work with students to develop their reading, writing and communication skills in a constructive and supportive environment. Lectures, readings, visits, advocacy, and workshops all inform student’s assessment work which is the creation of a zine and final essay responding theme, site and/or question chosen by the teaching team.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Design/Creative proj2M40Zine, up to 10 pages, Individually assessed
Essay2M60Maximum 2,000 words, Individually assessed
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Course work will form 100% of course assessment. You will need to produce two assignments for the module, both of which explore issues relating to migration, displacement, and trans-border cultural encounters and practices.

Assessment I: Zine (Up to 10 pages, 40%)
You will create a zine, which is a short magazine combining visual materials and text on themes introduced in the course and designed to be circulated to a non-academic audience. Don’t worry if you don’t know what a zine is or requires! Time for this will be set aside in our weekly workshops and seminars. We are always very excited and impressed with the creative ideas that students come up with! Our job is to help support you in developing your own innovative work that you are both proud of and passionate about. To ensure this, we will provide examples of previous zines created by students and provide in-class time for you to work on your project.

Assessment II: Essay (2000 words max, 60%)
You will also write an essay responding to one of several questions provided by the teaching staff. Or you may come up with your own question which responds to issues or topics covered in the module. The module handbook will provide information on the assessment and marking criteria. We encourage students to draw on and integrate different materials in the writing of the essay, including interviews and photographs.

Reading Lists