Postcolonial Europe? (L3118A)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

This module will engage with the relevance of postcolonial perspectives for social thought and sociology. It will explore controversies about the impact of European imperial expansion on the global order, as well as the role of the social sciences in this context: How has sociology contributed to establishing ideas of less advanced or backward regions, via, for example, a however imagined ‘Orient’? The module will review critiques of sociology as Eurocentric and reflect on their implications for our understanding of modernity, temporality, spatiality, and positionality.

We will then explore the significance of a postcolonial lens for empirical sociology. Which questions have been asked too often, and which ones have not been asked often enough? What does it mean to connect histories, narratives and epistemologies of the ‘Global North’ and the ‘Global South’? These considerations will be examined via a set of case studies that trace how coloniality shapes public institutions within and beyond Britain and Europe.

We will explore how colonial legacies materialize in our understanding and practice of education, race, religion, citizenship, human rights, as well as how they resonate with emotions or materialize in our homes and everyday activities. We also discuss how a postcolonial lens enables us to make sense of power asymmetries between Europe’s ‘East’ and ‘West’, the humanitarian crisis at the European border, the rise of far-right populist movements across Europe, of which the disintegration of the European Union (‘Brexit’) is a symptom.

Teaching and assessment

We’re currently reviewing teaching and assessment of our modules in light of the COVID-19 situation. We’ll publish the latest information as soon as possible.

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 30 hours of contact time and about 270 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: