AD3041 - Encounters that shape our worlds

What will I learn on this module?

On this module you will (a) explore the meaning of encounters and the relevance of encounters to the social sciences; (b) consider the ways in which history and our understanding of society have been shaped by encounters and (c) consider the ways in which specific encounters can help us understand actions, events and ideas that have shaped our world.

Encounters offer a lens through which we can look at and understand concepts, ideas, and debates central to the social sciences, including globalisation, colonialism, imperialism, and knowledge itself. Examples of the types of encounters this module looks at include the encounter between Moctezuma and Cortez in Latin America in the 16th Century (that laid the foundations for colonialism and exploitation of the global South), and the more recent example of Australians encountering Uluru in the 1990s, until that point called Ayres Rock, which allows us to explore notions of indigenous knowledge and land rights in former colonies. Other encounters will be drawn from the breadth of human history.

Staff delivering the module will draw on their own knowledge, experiences, and research to develop interactive sessions around a range of known encounters that feature in contemporary literature.

How will I learn on this module?

This module will be delivered via a series of interactive lectures and seminars. These sessions will involve a mix of individual exercises and group activities and will draw on a range of academic and media sources. You will be supported with extensive online reading lists, recommended media to access, and additional sources. There will be weekly tutorial support and you will be encouraged to develop your own understanding and appreciations of encounters, histories, and social science approaches. Key to this module is developing your skills as an active, critical social scientist.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

This module is designed to develop your understanding of key historical events and ideas and foster your intellectual curiosity. You are encouraged in workshops to reflect on the world we live in and how we got here, and to consider how encounters in your own lives have brought you to this point. We will do this through (a) a variety of learning activities during classes and through in-session question and answer opportunities, (b) the module’s online electronic learning portal website (Blackboard) which will act as a depository for all information required for the module, including learning materials, assessment information and reading list, and (c) lectures, seminars, and the opportunity to consult module teaching staff via one-to-one or small group tutorials.

You will also be able to access a range of academic support (including academic skills workshops around reading, writing, research, literature reviews, referencing etc) and pastoral support (including, health and wellbeing support and guidance) from our award-winning student services and library teams.

In addition, if you have moved to the UK to study from overseas, then additional support will be provided for international students with a focus on helping you settle into the university and the city, understanding culture and traditions in the UK and explore academic expectations. Additional English language support can be accessed should you need further support.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• You will develop your knowledge of significant historical encounters and events and how they shape contemporary thinking
• You will be able to identify and understand key concepts and approaches associated with the study of the social sciences

Intellectual/Professional Skills & Abilities:
• You will develop and demonstrate the skills needed to study social sciences in a Higher Education context

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• You will demonstrate an appreciation of the role of historical events in shaping contemporary life
• You will show an appreciation of the interconnected nature of the global world

How will I be assessed?

You will be supported with feedback through formative (i.e. informal) tasks within the module classes to prepare for the summative (i.e. formal) assessment for the module.

Component 1: Develop a four image, 800-word explanation of what the concept of ‘encounters’ means to you. You can draw on historical encounters and/or encounters from your own life. This component is worth 50% of the module mark.

Component 2: Develop a 1200-word essay that utilises the encounters framework (that you will be introduced to in week 2) to understand a key socio-political issue, event, or idea. This component is worth 50% of the module mark.

Please note that you will be supported in lectures, seminars, and tutorials to identify appropriate encounters for each assessment component.

This assessment will demonstrate your understanding of the key issues discussed throughout the module. You will be given the opportunity to receive formative feedback from the module team.





Module abstract

This interdisciplinary module has been developed jointly by staff in sociology and politics and will provide an opportunity for Foundation Year students to explore the meaning and significance of ‘encounters’ that shape our lives and our worlds. This module is about how (selected) historical, colonial, and personal encounters shape our understanding of the world and our identities as social scientists. Through case studies of specific encounters, students will be able to start to build an understanding of a range of important concepts and events, embedding knowledge of key ideas in social sciences and the histories from which they emerged.

This module will support students to identify and engage with a range of socio-political issues and their application in the social sciences. Through interactive lectures and seminars students will (a) explore case studies of historical encounters, (b) consider everyday encounters that shape their lives and (c) develop the ability to reflect on their own social science practice.

This module will support students to develop core knowledge and skills that are essential to further study within the social sciences.

Course info

UCAS Code L3L4

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time followed by a further 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Social Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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