Carceral Geographies


The so-called "punitive turn" has brought about new ways of thinking about geography and the state, and has highlighted spaces of incarceration as a new terrain for exploration by geographers.

This module introduces "carceral geography" as ageographical perspective on incarceration, tracking the ideas, practices and engagements that have shaped its development, informed by and extending theoretical developments in geography, but also interfacing with contemporary debates over hyperincarceration, recidivism and the advance of the punitive state.

The module will convey a sense of the debates, directions, and threads within carceral geography, tracing the origins of this sub-discipline of human geography, its synergies with criminology and prison sociology, and its likely future trajectories.

The module will cover three main themes:

  • The nature of carceral spaces and experiences within them
  • Spatial or distributional geographies of carceral systems
  • The relationship between a notion of the "carceral" and an increasingly punitive state

By synthesizing existing work in carceral geography, and by exploring the future directions it might take, the module will develop a notion of the "carceral" as spatial, emplaced, mobile, embodied and affective.


  • One 1.5hr essay-style examination with unseen questions. 2 questions to be answered from a selection of c10 (50%)
  • One 3000 word essay based on set reading materials (50%)

An optional mock exam under exam conditions, with feedback on exam answers, will be offered.

Feedback on coursework will be provided in Semester 3.