MA International Relations (Standard)

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Borders, Identities, Citizenship

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI72021
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course aims to critically examine the political, social and cultural construction of borders in international relations. It will introduce students to key theoretical approaches and latest research on these issues in critical International Relations, Political Geography and International Political Sociology. The course will stimulate questioning of how determination of political space through borders shapes the production of identities and citizenship. The enquiry-based learning environment will encourage students to explore conceptual links between borders, identities, and citizenship through examining the governing logics surrounding immigration, population management, diasporic formations, border-crossings, and minority cultures. Throughout the course the students will gain a greater understanding of how political power works across the marginal sites through the dialogical logic of exclusion and inclusion along the markers of ethnicity, gender, class, race, religion, and culture. Empirically, the course will engage with the recent and historical examples from the US, Europe, and China.


Learning outcomes

Students will be able to

To understand, compare, and evaluate key theoretical approaches to borders in International Relations

To understand and discuss conceptual links between borders, identities, and citizenship

Have a robust knowledge and ability to critically analyse several empirical cases of border interactions across the world

Have improved comparative and analytical skills

Have improved independent research skills through preparation of a course essay

Have enhanced communicative and team work through group presentation

Teaching and learning methods

This course will be taught via a weekly two-hour workshop classes. Assessment will be both formative and summative. The teaching and learning methods will focus on individual guided reading, enquiry-based learning, group work and student-led presentations and are aimed at developing advanced, systematic and critical understanding of theoretical and empirical issues pertaining to borders in international politics. Formative assessment will be provided in terms of: i) informal discussion in seminars between the convenor and students, ii) literature research and its critical interrogation, and iii) between students themselves about how their performance in seminars advances their learning and knowledge. Summative assessment will be in the form of one 3000 word essay and group presentations. The essay and presentation will provide students with an opportunity to study in depth a relevant area of their own choice in greater detail, and will develop their analytical, critical, and presentation skills.

Knowledge and understanding

The students will gain a greater understanding of scholarly perspectives on borders, identity, and citizenship; will be able to evaluate different paradigms and schools of thought; and will enhance their knowledge of relevant empirical and historical processes.

Intellectual skills

  • Critical reading, questioning, and reflection
  • Synthesis and analysis of material
  • Practical skills

  • Individual research skills
  • Group work
  • Academic writing
  • Oral presentation

  • Transferable skills and personal qualities

    Research skills, independent learning, presentation skills, working to deadline, ability to work individually and as part of a team

    Assessment methods

    Method Weight
    Written assignment (inc essay) 80%
    Portfolio 20%

    Recommended reading

    This is an advanced graduate module and prior knowledge of debates in Critical International Relations, Human Geography, and Political Sociology would be an advantage. If you don't have background in any of the above disciplines, I recommend reading two chapters from the following textbook (electronic copies are available in the University library):

    Doty, Roxanne Lynn; Chapter 10: Why is people's movement restricted In Global Politics: A New Introduction, edited by Jenny Edkins and Maja Zehfuss, London: Routledge, 2019, 3d edition, pp. 188-211.Elden, Stuart, Chapter 11: Why is the world divided territorially? Global Politics: A New Introduction, edited by Jenny Edkins and Maja Zehfuss, London: Routledge, 2019, 3d edition, pp 212-234.

    Study hours

    Scheduled activity hours
    Seminars 20
    Independent study hours
    Independent study 130

    Teaching staff

    Staff member Role
    Elena Barabantseva Unit coordinator

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