Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 10 x 2 hr lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Seen examination. Answer two questions from four.  100%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Seen examination. Answer two questions from four.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Identify, describe and explain i) a range of themes and concepts that are central to cultural, political and historical geography and ii) their significance in the specific context of the Americas.

2. Discuss in a critical and informed manner the varied geographical processes that have contributed to shaping the United States culturally, economically and politically since the era of colonization.

3. Develop critical skills in reading, as well as in the analysis of other media.

4. Show evidence of the depth of their reading and their ability to construct an argument in written form.

Brief description

The module surveys some of the key historical and present day geographical patterns and processes through which this vast and diverse country has developed and maintained its curious cultural and economic unity despite being home to such a wide array of different environments and ways of life. Themes foregrounded include the absolutely foundational role played by 'White America's' encounters with American Indians and people of African, Hispanic and Asian descent over the past few centuries in weaving together a hybrid national culture; and the colourful historical geographies of the key national and regional systems (rail, water, roads) that have come to produce unity-in-diversity at a more material level. Other themes that will be explored include ongoing struggles over immigration and the U.S.-Mexican borderlands, the United States' geopolitical relations with the wider world and especially within the context of the Americas, and the globalization of U.S. popular culture.


  1. Native Americans, the Frontier Myth and American Identity
  2. Structuring City and Countryside: rail, agriculture and industry in the 19th century
  3. Black America, Asian America: Two geographical sagas
  4. The U.S.-Mexican borderlands
  5. Immigration, labour and the American landscape
  6. Water and the West: Geographies of Second Nature
  7. Landscapes of the post-industrial United States: suburbs, consumption, mobility
  8. America and the postmodern city
  9. The United States and geopolitics
  10. The globalization of American culture

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Not developed through this module.
Communication Written communication skills will be developed and assessed through the examination. Oral communication skills will also be developed through class-based discussions.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students should implicitly develop their skills in this area through the organisation of free-time reading and exam preparation. Not explicitly developed through the module.
Information Technology Students will be directed to source material from the internet that is relevant to lecture topics.
Personal Development and Career planning Not explicitly developed through the module. The content of lectures and reading may indirectly encourage students to reflect on their own beliefs and views and may identify potential career paths for some.
Problem solving Problem solving will be indirectly addressed in teaching sessions, for example through group discussion of course materials, and also in exams.
Research skills Students will be encouraged to develop their research skills through collating material from library and internet sources.
Subject Specific Skills
Team work There may be an element of teamwork in class-based exercises and discussions.

Reading List

Essential Reading
Cooper, M. (2004) Dust to Eat: Drought and Depression in the 1930s Clarion Books Primo search Cronon, W. (1991) Nature's Metropolis W.W.Norton Primo search Crothers, L. (2006) Globalization and American Popular Culture Rowman & Littlefield Primo search Ganster, P. (2007) The U.S. - Mexican Border into the Twenty-First Century Rowman & Littlefield Primo search Hannigan, J.A. (1998) Fantasy City: Pleasure and Profit in the Postmodern Metropolis Routledge Primo search Lemann, N. (1991) The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and how it changed America A.A.Knopf Primo search Massey, D. and Denton, N. (1993) American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass Harvard University Press Primo search Mitchell, D. (1996) The Lie of the Land: Migrant Workers and the Californian Landscape University of Minnesota Press Primo search O'Brien, T.F. and Johnson, L. (2007) Making the Americas: The United States and Latin America from the Age of the Revolution to the Era of Globalization University of New Mexico Press Primo search White, R. (1991) "It's Your Misfortune and none of my own": A New History of the American West. University of Oklahoma Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5