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Unit information: More-than-Human-Geographies: Ecological Imaginaries & Animal Geographies in 2015/16

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Unit name More-than-Human-Geographies: Ecological Imaginaries & Animal Geographies
Unit code GEOG20001
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Naomi Millner
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

The aim of this unit is to explore and develop understandings of the “more-than-human” within geographical research and explanation. The unit is made up of two courses: (1) Ecological Imaginaries and (2) Animal Geographies. The two self-contained courses will introduce students to key debates and concepts within historical and cultural geographies, with a particular emphasis on the way that environments, nonhuman life, and ecological processes/artefacts can be understood.



“Ecological” movements and concerns are often associated with the rising awareness of resource depletion and climate change in the post-industrial world. However, ideas about environments, nature, plant life, habitats and biophysical processes have informed spatial imaginaries throughout history – and vice versa. This course focuses on the intellectual history of ideas which has informed understandings of, and transformations to, ecologies and environments. Lectures focus on seminal moments in the conceptualisation of ecologies and ecological processes, showing how cultural-historical tools allow us to study the aesthetic, moral, and spatial transformations in play. Ultimately, students will consider how more recent ideas of “decolonising nature,” multi-naturism, and the more-than-human reconfigure cultural-historical geographies.


As an important and innovative area of contemporary geographical thought, animal geographies are emerging as a critical component in the development of post-humanist, post-environmentalist enquiry in geography. The course will range from issues of co-construction of human/animal spaces and places (wild, urban and rural), practices of human/animal association (pet keeping, zoos, animal husbandry, etc) to moral and ethical debates over welfare, animal experimentation and biosecurity. Traditional and contemporary forms of animal representation will be examined, leading to an assessment of ideas of hybridity, dwelling and co-constitutionism. Finally, the course will critically engage with understandings and conceptualisations of the ‘the human animal’ as a way of reconfiguring “more-than-human” geographies and human/non-human relations.

The aims of this Unit are to help students develop critical appreciations of (i)contemporary human geographical engagement (including the ontological and epistemological issues raised by that engagement) with non-human animals, environments, and processes, and (ii)and the place of that engagement within the development of the discipline.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this Unit students should be able to:


  • engage with the intellectual history of ecological ideas and environments through contemporary geographic concepts and debates;
  • analyse particular ecological imaginaries in terms of aesthetics, moral economies and power geometries;
  • demonstrate understanding of how intellectual history has shaped the discipline of Human Geography.


  • demonstrate a detailed understanding of the contribution of geographical research to the study of non-humans and of the articulation of this research within other social and natural science domains;
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of the contribution of geographical enquiry to the broader ethical, philosophical and methodological issues associated with human-animal relations and animal-focused research.

Teaching Information

Teaching will take place through lectures, with an optional field-visit and discussion event. Students will be linked to online resources and encouraged to participate in blogs.

Assessment Information

Formative assessment will take place through monitored readings of key texts and secondary readings, to be kept in students’ notebooks. Individual meetings through the course will also monitor students’ progress with the coursework.

Summative assessment will take place through one 2000 word essay (50%) and one 2-hour written exam (50%).

Reading and References


  1. Roberts, B. et al. (1998) People, Land and Time: An Historical Introduction to the Relations between Landscape, Culture and Environment. London: Arnold Press.
  2. Anderson, K. and Braun, B. (2008) Environment: Critical Essays in Human Geography. London: Ashgate.
  3. Whatmore, S. (2002) Hybrid Geographies: Natures, Cultures, Spaces. London: Sage.
  4. Ingold, T. (2000) The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. London: Routledge. 5. Radkau, J. (2008) Nature and Power: A Global History of the Environment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


  1. Haraway, D. (2008) When Species Meet. Minnesota University Press.
  2. Philo, C. and Wilbert, C. (2000) Animal Spaces, Beastly Places. Routledge, London
  3. Whatmore, S. (2002) Hybrid Geographies. London, Sage
  4. Kalof, L. (2007) The Animals Reader. London, Berg
  5. The Animal Studies Group (eds) (2006) Killing Animals. University of Illinois Press.
  6. Baker, S (2000) The Postmodern Animal. Reaktion Books.