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 approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 128 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 COVID-19, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. 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: