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Unit information: Geographies of Time and Timing in 2015/16

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Unit name Geographies of Time and Timing
Unit code GEOGM0800
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Glennie
Open unit status Not open

Having followed the A and C Syllabus in Years 2 and 3


The A and C Syllabus units in Year 4

School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


Recent years have seen dramatic growth in geographical and inter-disciplinary attention to many facets of time, and this unit addresses some of the features and implications of this attention. Of particular concern are the relations among (1) substantive studies of biological and societal times; (2) analyses of 'time-space'; and (3) certain elements of recent human geographical theorising.

Distinctive key themes of this unit, compared with much other work, include attention to 'biological clocks' at scales from cells to organisms; to socially-embedded practicalities of time-keeping and temporal knowledges in everyday life (as well as the more familiar spheres of politics and work); and to long-run implications for cultural production and individual identity. Though drawing chiefly on materials from western Europe, the course ranges much more widely at relevant points.

The module contains ten sessions, lecture-based with linked discussions around specified readings, certain sections involve student-led presentations and discussion.


The aims of this Unit are to help students develop critical appreciations:

  • of the situated and historical production of ideas and practices about times, timing, and time-reckoning;
  • of the importance of substantive, grounded investigation; and
  • of the diverse types of source materials and research orientations encountered in this field.

Intended learning outcomes

  • understand some key debates in geography and related disciplines over conceptualising time(s);
  • understand central technical issues relating to time-reckoning and timekeeping;
  • appreciate the geographical variety of, and long-run shifts in, the situated-ness of temporal understandings in diverse societal contexts;
  • critically engage with literatures on time and timing in diverse areas of the social, biological and physical sciences, and to be aware of that in philosophy;
  • appreciate both the value and limitations of general concepts of 'society', 'science' and 'nationalism' when analysing/interpreting particular historical-geographical contexts
  • understand the interwoven relationships between institutional social structures, senses of social and individual identity, and everyday temporal practices

The following transferable skills are developed in this Unit:

  • Written and verbal communication
  • Analytical skills
  • Interpretive skills
  • Planning and project management

Nature (See Footnote C) %Contribution to Overall Mark

Group presentation (20 minutes + Q&A) week 4 20%

Individual short report (maximum 2300 words) 20%

Discussion amplifying part of the group presentation, due week 8.

Individual Research Essay (max 3000 words) 60%

An investigative discussion on an agreed topic, due week 11.

Total for unit 100%

Teaching details


Assessment Details

Lectures, including discussion 20

Reading preparatory for lectures 20

Student group presentation, including preparation 25

Preparation & write-up of individual short essay 25

Reading and Self-Study 20

Preparation & write-up of course essay 90

Total for unit (200 Hours)

Reading and References

  1. Barreau, H (2000) Cultural invariants in the registration of times, Time and Society, 9:
  2. Sauter, M.J. (2007) Clockwatchers and stargazers: time discipline in early modern Berlin, American Historical Review, 112:
  3. Glennie, P. & Thrift, N. (2009) Shaping the Day: A History of Timekeeping in England and Wales, c.1300-1800. Oxford University Press
  4. Kern, S. (2003) The Culture of Time and Space 1880-1918, 2nd edition
  5. Gershuny, J. (2000) Changing Times: Work and Leisure in Post-Industrial Society [ML HM548.SER)
  6. Birth, K. (2007) Time and the biological consequences of globalization, Current Anthropology, 48: 215-236.