The Politics of Race in Europe (L3118B)

30 credits, Level 6

Spring 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.


33%: Lecture
67%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 267 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: