Skip to main content

Unit information: Geographies of the Anthropocene in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

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 Professor. Mayhew
Open unit status Not open

There are no pre-requisites. Students will find completion of More-than-Human Geographies GEOG-20001 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 cultural and historical origins, and current debates over its provenance and implications. The bulk of the course is organised around key problematics of the Anthropocene: energy, nature, cities, imagination. Each session is split between critical analysis and studies of ethical or political intervention. Indicative topics include: fossil fuels and geopower; fracking and activist energy politics; rewilding and extinction; green urbanism; gardening in ruins; apocalypse; visions of human life beyond Earth. 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

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

Teaching Information

Classes consist of 10x2 hour sessions, each comprising a mix of lecture, small-group discussion and workshop activities.

Assessment Information

40% one 2500 word essay from a choice of four set questions. Due Week 18.

60% two hour written examination.

Reading and References

Required, further and advanced readings will be set for each week. There is no course textbook. The following two recent special issues in geography journals provide useful insights into the course:

Futures: Imagining Socioecological Transformation, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Volume 105, Issue 2, 239-436, 2015.

Geographies of the Anthropocene, Geographical Research, Volume 53, Issue 3, 231-320, 2015.