Skip to main content


People and Nature

Module titlePeople and Nature
Module codeGEO2458
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Sarah Crowley (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

In this module we explore relationships between humans and the rest of the natural world, and how our conceptualisations, representations and interactions with ‘nature’ shape the way we engage with and manage our environments. Working through historical, contemporary and cross-cultural ideas, we explore different theorisations of nature, from something ‘out there’ to something that is very much a part of our (more than) human existence. From the deepest forest to your back garden, we examine contemporary relations and tensions between different kinds of natures and cultures. We consider how the management and conservation of the natural world is contested and negotiated both in environmental conflicts and everyday life. We also explore the way nature is portrayed in art and visual media.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to develop your understanding of the theoretical and substantive approaches to the study of nature in human geography and beyond. It sets out the key theoretical debates and shows how these affect our understandings of what belongs in nature, where nature belongs, and how we should act towards ‘natural’ beings, things, and spaces. The module encourages the real-world application of academic theories about nature to real world debates on a diverse range of topics, from wilderness preservation to managing microbiomes. A key aim of the module is to improve understanding of how different perceptions, valuations and politics of nature produce controversies and conflicts in conservation and environmental management. Module content will draw on the module convenor’s own research on the ecological politics of invasive species management, rewilding, and domestic wildlife.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe and evaluate, with some assistance, the methods and theories that human geographers use to understand how people make sense of nature
  • 2. Explain how human conceptualisations of nature inform our understandings of place, environment, culture and identity
  • 3. Critically discuss the concepts, assumptions and processes that underpin different approaches to environmental management and conservation

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Identify critical questions from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 5. Identify and implement, with some guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for addressing specific research problems in human geography
  • 6. Evaluate and explore, with some help, geography’s interdisciplinary links with other social science disciplines and the natural sciences, and how these inform the conceptualisation and management of nature

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Develop, with some guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with valid conclusions
  • 8. Communicate ideas, principles and theories fluently using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 9. Collect and interpret appropriate data and complete research-like tasks, drawing on a range of sources, with limited guidance

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

  • Introduction: ideas about nature
  • Controversy, conflict, and the politics of nature
  • Nature ‘out there’ I: wilderness
  • Nature ‘out there’ II: restoration and rewilding
  • Nature ‘out there’ III: nature out of place
  • Nature nearby I: nature-cultures
  • Nature nearby II: urban natures
  • Nature within I: the human ecosystem
  • Nature within II: biotechnology and synthetic biology
  • Representing nature in art and visual media

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 5Lectures (10 x 30 minutes)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 5Fieldtrip* “Module field trips may have to be moved online/replaced in the event of continued COVID-19 lockdown/social distancing rules”.
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 15Seminar / Workshop
Guided Independent Study125Additional research, reading and preparation for module assessments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Field trip journal* Will be replaced with reflective journal if field trip not possible1000 words1-9Peer-to-peer in seminar discussion
Summary discussions and questions during lectures. Ongoing1-9Oral staff feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay501500 words1-5, 7-9Written
Case study report501500 words1-4, 7-9Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-5, 7-9August Assessment Period
Case study reportCase study report1-4, 7-9August Assessment Period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:


  • Castree, N. (2013). Making sense of nature. Routledge.
  • Robbins, P., Hintz, J. and Moore, S. (2015). Environment and Society: a critical introduction. Wiley.
  • Lorimer, J. (2015). Wildlife in the Anthropocene: conservation after nature. University of Minnesota Press.
  • Adams, B. (2013). Against Extinction: the story of conservation.
  • Milton, K. (2000). Loving Nature: towards an ecology of emotion. Routledge.


  • González-Hidalgo, M., & Zografos, C. (2019). Emotions, power, and environmental conflict: Expanding the ‘emotional turn’ in political ecology. Progress in Human Geography: 0309132518824644.
  • Cronon, W. (1996). The trouble with Wilderness. Environmental History1(1), pp.20-25.
  • Lorimer, J., Sandom, C., Jepson, P., Doughty, C., Barua, M., & Kirby, K. J. (2015). Rewilding: Science, practice, and politics. Annual Review of Environment and Resources40, 39-62.
  • Crowley, S. L., Hinchliffe, S., & McDonald, R. A. (2017). Nonhuman citizens on trial: The ecological politics of a beaver reintroduction. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space49(8), 1846-1866.
  • Robbins, P. (2004). Comparing invasive networks: cultural and political biographies of invasive species. Geographical Review94(2), 139-156.
  • Hinchliffe, S., & Whatmore, S. (2006). Living cities: towards a politics of conviviality. Science as Culture15(2), 123-138.
  • Beck, A. (2019). Microbiomes as companion species: an exploration of dis-and re-entanglements with the microbial self. Social & Cultural Geography, 1-19.

Suggested Journals

  • Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space
  • People and Nature
  • Ambio
  • Social and Cultural Geography

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Nature, culture, human geography, political ecology, biodiversity conservation, environmental conflict, wildlife management, urban ecology, rewilding

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date