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Unit information: Geographies of the Anthropocene in 2021/22

Unit name Geographies of the Anthropocene
Unit code GEOG30012
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Franklin Ginn
Open unit status Not open

There are no pre-requisites. Students will find completion of More-than-Human Geographies GEOG20006 and/or Philosophy, Social Theory and Geography GEOG25110 useful.


Available to year-three Geography and year-four Geography with Study Aboard/Continental Europe students only.

School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

We live on a planet profoundly altered by human activities. From mass extinction, to the transformation of land for agriculture, to climate change and the extraction of fossil fuels, to rising inequality, the Anthropocene names our current geological epoch – the age of humans. This course will introduce the concept of the Anthropocene, outlining its scientific and cultural origins, and explore current debates over its provenance and implications by examining competing planetary perspectives. These include: the Capitalocene, based in eco-Marxist approaches; and the Chthulucene, based on posthumanism; the Plantationocene, based on decolonial thought. The second part of the course is organised around key problematics of the Anthropocene: viral pandemics; novel forms of conservation; extinction; soil cultures; apocalypse; visions of human life beyond Earth; indigenous conservation. Each session is split between critical conceptual analysis and studies of ethical or political intervention. The course is mainly cultural geography, but all geography students are welcome to take the course. Sessions are split between lectures and more interactive activities.

Unit aims:

  • To enhance critical thinking in addressing grand planetary challenges
  • To explore the culture of the Anthropocene
  • To explore current real-world examples through different theoretical lenses
  • To enable students to develop their own voice and areas of expertise.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, students will have:

  1. Critical understanding of the key dimensions of the Anthropocene concept, its emergence and its politics;
  2. Critical understanding of the problems with mainstream environmentalism;
  3. Capacity to synthesise current theoretical debates with real-world examples;
  4. Understanding in-depth of one or more key debates;
  5. Ability to develop their own voice and way of thinking about the politics of the Anthropocene.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through a blended combination of online and, if possible, in-person teaching, including

  • online resources
  • synchronous group workshops, seminars, tutorials and/or office hours
  • asynchronous individual activities and guided reading for students to work through at their own pace

Assessment Information

One 2500 word essay (40%).

Two 1500-word essays, each worth 30% of the unit mark.

All assessments assess all of the ILOs.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. GEOG30012).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.