Places, Journeys, Borders - ENGL6550

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Spring Term 6 30 (15) Rachel Gregory Fox checkmark-circle


'I am a refugee, an asylum-seeker. These are not simple words, even if habit of hearing them makes them seem so. I arrived at Gatwick Airport in the late afternoon of 23 November last year. It is a familiar minor climax in our stories, leaving what we know and arriving in strange places, carrying little bits of jumbled luggage and suppressing secret and garbled ambitions. For some, as for me, it was the first journey by air, and the first arrival in a place so monumental as an airport, though I have travelled by sea and by land, and in my imagination.' (Abdulrazak Gurnah, By the Sea)

Abdulrazak Gurnah, the Nobel Prize Winner for Literature 2021, is a compass point for this module, which navigates through experiences and processes of travelling across seas, places and borders that have been a central concern in Gurnah's work since 1987. Anchoring discussion on Gurnah's writing about the effects of colonialism and the immigrant experience between coastlines of southern England and East Africa, the module will then broaden out geographically and historically to explore texts from the coasts of the East Mediterranean, the Caribbean, West Africa, Europe, and beyond. The texts explored are about the journeys of displaced people – asylum seekers, detainees, political exiles, stateless, diaspora – as shaped by key modern historical and political processes. From immigrant arrival and dislocation to national movements and political realities, the module explores connections between places, journeys, borders, and literary and artistic production, and considers sites and processes of heritage, hostility and hospitality, responsibility and neglect, negotiation and contradiction, convergence and discord, clash and reconciliation. It explores concepts such as: belonging and longing; memory; homeland; trauma and mental health; internal and external displacement (physical, mental, physical); sites without rights – refugee camps, jungles, detention/reception centres, prisons, the buffer zone, middle sea/Mediterranean, border-towns, asylums, hospitals. The module provides access to various organisations (e.g. charities, grassroot groups, and activist networks) engaged with migration projects.


Contact hours

Private Study: 268
Contact Hours: 32
Total: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:
Essay (3,000 words) 40%
Project (3,000 words or 15-20 minutes) 40%
Seminar Participation 20%

Reassessment methods:
100% coursework (4,500 words)

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices. The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages:

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Gain critical and systematic understanding of key aspects and concepts related to migration and immigration, borders, and postcolonialism
2. Think and understand historically, culturally and politically about migration, immigration, borders and the postcolonial
3. Interpret and compare a range of texts from different geographic locations 8.4 Connect historical and political processes to a range of literary and artistic texts

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Apply the close reading skills to allow for complex comparative analyses;
2. Synthesise information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of theory and practice; synthesise material from a number of sources in a coherent creative whole
3 Frame and digest criticism of creative work sensitively and constructively using a variety of methods
4. Develop powers of communication and the capacity to argue a point of view with clarity, organisation, cogency, originality and in an articulate and well-substantiated way
5. Be confident in the efficient presentation of ideas designed to stimulate critical debate
6 Plan and execute essays and project-work and be competent in the conception, planning, execution and editing of individual creative work by conducting self-directed research with the ability to extend discussions undertaken in lectures and seminars through reference to appropriate scholarly sources;
7. Demonstrate enhanced skills in collaborative work, including more finely tuned listening and questioning skills
8. Understand, interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
Back to top

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.