Changing geographies of the United Kingdom
This module explores change in the contemporary United Kingdom and how a geographical perspective can help us to make sense of this change. At the heart of this exploration is the idea that the United Kingdom exists as a contested geographical entity, marked by shifting borders and boundaries, and patterns of local and global circulation and connection. From connections to an ancient British past to contemporary relations with Europe, you'll develop geographical skills to help you consider how places are made, re-made and understood. You'll also consider how change has occurred within Geography as a discipline.
What you will study
This module begins by setting out the changing and contested nature of the United Kingdom and how a geographical perspective helps us to understand change. This is introduced through the key module concept of ‘place’ and how place is always the product of its connections to other places, other times, and the effects of power. Place in this context is framed as a ‘multiplicity’, where it always exists in multiple and changing forms. The short introductory block of the module also introduces you to the history of the discipline of Geography from its origins in the Royal Geographical Society in the 1830s and its association with Empire and colonialism through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
We then explore some of the continuities and changes in geographical practice and outline how contemporary geographers carry out their work through the development of particular ‘geographical sensibilities’.
Having been introduced to the concept of ‘place’ in Block 1, each block that follows is framed by a particular type or set of practices that serve to ‘make’ places.
In Block 2 you will consider how particular identities emerge in relation to place, how populations are ordered and understood and how places become made and re-made, processes which are framed by the block concept of ‘assemblage’.
In Block 3 you will consider the connections and disconnections that are formed between people and places through traditions and festivals, migration for work and study and the relationship between global interdependence and economic change. All of these are framed by the block concept of ‘mobility’.
Block 4 considers issues such as state power and contested borders, geographies of health and disease and the making of London as a centre of global flows and relations through the block concept of ‘territory’.
Finally, Block 5 uses the concept of ‘experiment’ to consider possible future geographies through initiatives such as sharing economies and experimental approaches in public health and education. Block 6 forms a review of the module and prepares you for the end-of-module assessment.
Each of the five main blocks of the module develops a key academic skill which will be developed and applied through assessment. These are ‘Understand’ (Block 1), ‘Apply’ (Block 2), ‘Analyse’ (Block 3), ‘Evaluate’ (Block 4) and ‘Create’ (Block 5). These skills will also be developed through an engagement with the key geographical practice of fieldwork. In the final ‘review’ week of each block, we will consider different aspects of what we call ‘blended fieldwork’ to emphasise that fieldwork is about more than what exists ‘on the ground’ but, like place itself, is made up of many intersecting and diverse elements.
Your skills and knowledge will be developed through five tutor-marked assignments (one for each of the first five blocks) and an end-of-module assessment.
There are no pre-requisites for studying this module. However, since this is a OU level 2 module, you are strongly advised to have completed your OU level 1 studies first. As a bare minimum you should be a competent computer user and have a sound command of English for the completion and submission of assessment.
We recommend studying the OU level 1 modules Environment (U116) and Global challenges: social science in action (D113). Also Environment and society (DD213), which is the companion OU level 2 module to D225 within the BA (Honours) Geography (R44) and Diploma of Higher Education in Geography (W81).
You will be provided with the two core module books and have access to a module website, which includes:
- a week-by-week study planner
- module materials
- audio and video content
- learning activities
- assessment details and submission section
- online tutorial access
- access to student and tutor group forums.
You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS (11 'Big Sur' or higher).
Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.
To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).
Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.
Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.
It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.