Identity, Violence and Transgression (L4103B)

15 credits, Level 5

Spring teaching

How do we understand ourselves? How closely is our sense of self related to other people? What happens to a person’s self-conception when their sense of self is systematically attacked and undermined? How do people respond to experiences of trauma and personal loss and what kind of psychological strategies of survival do people rely on in order to continue living a meaningful life? The module starts by considering some of the main social psychological theories of the self and self-awareness before moving on to contemplate the darker side of the self specifically addressed in the work of Erich Fromm and David Riesman.

The lectures cover a range of influential social theorists and examine a diverse range of contemporary perspectives on the formation and maintenance of self-identity in contemporary society. We will examine why some individuals deliberately choose to engage in behaviour that transgresses everyday boundaries and also consider how people respond when their sense of identity is systematically attacked and undermined. This module draws on a wide range of up-to-date research and introduces you to a variety of theoretical perspectives.

This module assumes no prior knowledge of the literature and will be of relevance to anyone interested in studying the nature of identity in modern society.


50%: Lecture
50%: Seminar


100%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 150 hours of work. This breaks down into 22 hours of contact time and 128 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2019/20. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.