GEOG40450 Critical Geopolitics and Diplomacy

Academic Year 2023/2024

Critical geopolitics is concerned with the geographical assumptions and designations that underlie the making of world politics. The goal of critical geopolitics is to elucidate and explain how political actors spatialize international politics and represent it as a “world” characterized by particular types of places. This module explores Critical Geopolitics as an approach to understanding political geographies. It begins by examining how Critical Geopolitics has emerged in Human Geography, and the reaction and misuse of 'Geopolitical' thinking. The module will examine conceptually and analytically the nature of Critical Geopolitics. To do this, the module examines the notions of space and place in elite thinking, situated political practices in EU governance, and the construction and implementation of geo-political narratives ( where/what is the 'Mediterranean'? What does 'Eastern' mean in Eastern Europe? Is Iceland an Arctic state?). The module also addresses new conceptual thinking in critical geopolitics with a specific focus on diplomacy (including emotion and effect, language, and diplomatic atmospheres). This section of the module draws on Professor Jones' recently published research on the United Nations Security Council.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should have:
1.Examined and critiqued the significance of 'critical' in critical geopolitics;
2.Enhanced their understanding of the contested nature of 'Europe';
3.Developed critical thinking, reading and writing skills on the nature, significance and impact of critical geopolitics to undestanding international politics.

Indicative Module Content:

Nature of Geopolitics
Critical Geopolitics and its Emergence
Key Critical Geopolitical writings
Examples of a critical geopolitical approach- strengths, weaknesses and refinements.
Conceptualising Diplomacy- emotions, affects and atmospheres- Evidence from the UN, EU and NATO.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Readings ahead of each meeting. Discussion of each reading and a build-up of a Critical Geopolitical Approach. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Essay: Two essays
Each of 2000 words
1) Due Friday 3rd November at 5pm
2) Due Friday 1st December at 5pm
Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

After each essay there will be a feedback session to the group. Individual feedback can also be given if required.