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Coursera

Political Geography

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) via Coursera

Overview

Political geography is a discipline concerned with the spatial dimensions of politics. This course is an introduction to the study of political science, international relations and area studies, providing a systemic approach to the spatial dimension of political processes at all levels. It covers their basic elements, including states, supranational unions, geopolitical systems, regions, borders, capitals, dependent, and internationally administered territories. Political geography develops fundamental theoretical approaches that give insight into the peculiarities of foreign and domestic policies. The ability to use spatial analysis techniques allows determining patterns and regularities of political phenomena both at the global and the regional and local levels.

The course is developed by MGIMO University for the broader audience interested primarily in international relations, area studies, history, political science, economics and law.

Syllabus

  • Introduction to Political Geography
    • Week 1 is devoted to the global level of political and territorial organization of the world. It defines the subject, methods, and subdisciplines of political geography and provides the general idea of the principles, levels and elements of the political and territorial organization of society. It gives the general idea of the main geopolitical systems which define the basic principles of the world political map. The narrative is accompanied by a brief overview of key geopolitical concepts in the history of the discipline. During this week you will learn two topics: "Introduction to Political Geography, or how to find the most important place in the classroom" and "Global Geopolitical Systems, or why the West is not always on the left and the East is not always on the right". Each topic is supported by video lecture, presentation, reading and practice exercise. Among this week materials we will also find the detailed information on the course organization and two tracks of learning: basic and advanced. On basic track it is enough to complete the test at the end of the week with 12 questions on video lecture and presentation. On advanced track it is recommended to read additional materials from the textbook and perform the practical exercise
  • State and State Building
    • Week 2 concentrates on the state as a key element of the political and territorial organization of the world. It describes the evolution of historical types of statehood: chiefdoms, city-states, empires, nation-states, etc. The geographical principles of nation building are formulated. It deduces the minimal features of statehood in the modern system of international relations and gives the classification of existing polities depending on their possession of these features. During this week you will learn two topics: "Features of State, or how to create a state in the bedroom " and "State Building, or why the world political map never stops changing". Each topic is supported by video lecture, presentation, reading and practice exercise. On basic track it is enough to complete the test at the end of the week with 12 questions on video lecture and presentation. On advanced track it is recommended to read additional materials from the textbook and perform the practical exercise.
  • State Territory
    • Week 3 focuses on the territory of the state and it properties that determine the political and geographical position of the state on the world political map. It describes the parameters of each property which can be interpreted as a good or a bad position. It summarizes the variables of the geopolitical code which form the basis for the subjective spatial positioning of the state in the world. Mixed types of territorial regimes are described. It develops the full classification of types of territorial changes with examples from the history of the formation of the world political map. During this week you will learn two topics: "Properties of State’s Territory, or how a landlocked state could create its fleet" and "Composition of State Territory, or how to peacefully double the area of the country". Each topic is supported by video lecture, presentation, reading and practice exercise. On basic track it is enough to complete the test at the end of the week with 12 questions on video lecture and presentation. On advanced track it is recommended to read additional materials from the textbook and perform the practical exercise.
  • International Entities and Dependent Territories
    • Week 4 concentrates on international entities and dependent territories. It describes the principles of territorial organization in new political spaces: the seabed area, poles, space, etc. It summarizes models of functioning of territories with an international legal regime: international straits and rivers, buffer zones, free territories, terra nullius, etc. It distinguishes the stages of colonization and decolonization, analyzes the goals and forms of dependence at all stages of forming the world political map. During this week you will learn two topics: "International Entities, or how to find nobody’s lands on the Earth" and "Dependent Territories, or are there any colonies left in the modern world?". Each topic is supported by video lecture, presentation, reading and practice exercise. On basic track it is enough to complete the test at the end of the week with 12 questions on video lecture and presentation. On advanced track it is recommended to read additional materials from the textbook and perfrom the practical exercise.
  • Capital City and State Borders
    • Week 5 pays attention to the capital city and state borders. The types of capitals and functions of the main political center of the country are displayed. It explains the cases of multi-capital states and quasi-capital cities. The reasons and political consequences of the of capitals relocations are indicated. The types of borders are distinguished by their physical features, genesis, and nature of functioning. The procedures of establishing state borders are explained. During this week you will learn two topics: "Capital Cities, or why the center never allows the periphery to develop"

      and "State Borders, or where could they jail you after an affray on the plane". Each topic is supported by video lecture, presentation, reading and practice exercise. On basic track it is enough to complete the test at the end of the week with 12 questions on video lecture and presentation. On advanced track it is recommended to read additional materials from the textbook and perform the practical exercise.
  • Administrative Division
    • Last Week 6 is devoted to the principles and forms of internal political and territorial structure of the state. Theoretical approaches to the analysis of the administrative division of the country are presented. It summarizes the essence of the unitary and federal forms of government. Atypical forms of regions and local communities are characterized. It describes the effects of geography of voting, which allow us to interpret the territorial differences of people's electoral behavior. During this week you will learn two topics: "Unitary and Federal States, or how to create an ideal society" and "Electoral Geography, or how to find out who your neighbors vote for". Each topic is supported by video lecture, presentation, reading and practice exercise. On basic track it is enough to complete the test at the end of the week with 12 questions on video lecture and presentation. On advanced track it is recommended to read additional materials from the textbook and perform the practical exercise. At the end you will find future reading literature list the final test on all the course topics that consists of 24 questions.

Taught by

Igor Okunev

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