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MA International Relations (Standard) / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Migration, Mobility and Displacement in the Contemporary World

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI60731
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
Offered by
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

The modern world has been shaped by the movement and settlement of people across the globe over generations. Migration, mobility and displacement are intimately related to processes of social, economic and political change. Migration from rural areas towards cities both stimulate their economic growth and brings huge pressures on urban infrastructure. The movement of people back and forth across boundaries raises important questions about political rights, belonging and identity. The expulsion of enemies, the flight of refugees or the enslavement of people vividly demonstrate the raw exercise of power and abuse of rights.

The aim of this course is to explore various ways of analysing such causes and consequences of migration, mobility and displacement from different disciplinary perspectives. It will provide students with an overview of changes in both patterns of mobility and public perceptions of it. It will critically examine debates about concepts such as integration and belonging, the governance of migration and displacement, and the role of migrants as social and political actors. It will provide students with theoretical and practical knowledge to better understand the many ways in which migration, mobility and displacement make the contemporary world.  

Aims

  • Provide critical insights into different theoretical and disciplinary perspectives on how migration, mobility and displacement can be understood, measured and explained;
  • Provide students with the knowledge and the skills necessary to critically analyse key theoretical and practical issues and debates relating to migration, mobility and displacement;
  • Enable students to develop a range of competencies in transferable areas, including developing reasoned arguments, gathering, organising and using evidence and information from a wide variety of sources, undertaking independent work to deadlines, and developing written forms of communication.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate different theoretical perspectives regarding the causes and consequences of human mobility.
  • Critically reflect upon the implications of assumptions underlying migration debates for social, political and economic change in different contexts.
  • Develop arguments to explain how different disciplinary approaches to the study of migration, mobility and displacement can be applied in different empirical contexts.
  • Independently gather, select and synthesise data from various sources (including library, electronic and online resources), and to critically evaluate its significance with regard to mobility patterns.
  • Present written materials in an appropriate format and style for a professional setting.

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will be organised around 9 sessions. These will be offered as either 2-hour interactive lectures (which may include films, student presentations, or other activities), or through shorter recorded lectures (max 4 x 20 minutes per session) with either one (40-60 minute if face to face), or two (20-30 minutes if online) slots for questions and discussion.

In addition, 3 tutorial sessions will allow the chance for student-led discussion and exchanges in smaller groups around three broad themes:

  • Categorisation and labelling – exploring how different actors use categories such as refugees, IDPs, irregular, undocumented, economic migrant.
  • Understanding home
  • Debating open borders versus migration management

Knowledge and understanding

  • Provide students with the knowledge and the skills necessary to critically analyse key theoretical and practical issues and debates relating to migration, mobility and displacement;
  • Enable students to develop a range of competencies in transferable areas, including developing reasoned arguments, gathering, organising and using evidence and information from a wide variety of sources, undertaking independent work to deadlines, and developing written forms of communication.

Intellectual skills

  • Critically evaluate different theoretical perspectives regarding the causes and consequences of human mobility.
  • Critically reflect upon the implications of assumptions underlying migration debates for social, political and economic change in different contexts.

Practical skills

  • Develop arguments to explain how different disciplinary approaches to the study of migration, mobility and displacement can be applied in different empirical contexts.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Information Retrieval – independently to gather, select and synthesise data from various sources (including library, electronic and online resources), and to critically evaluate its significance with regard to mobility patterns.
  • Effective Written Communication – to present written materials in an appropriate format and style for a professional setting.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 70%
Written exam 30%

The formal assessment of the course will be through

  1. Take-home examination (week 7) - 30% course credits. This will take the form of 3 questions for which students will be asked to give concise answers of up to 500 words (+/- 10%). Total assignment length 1,500 words.
  2. Essay 70% - course credits. Each student will be required to write an essay responding to ONE of the six questions that will be given to you by the Course Convenor as soon as these are approved by the external examiner.

Feedback methods

To students:

  • General feedback provided in class to any common issues highlighted by assignment 1.
  • Formative feedback provided individually on essay outlines for second assignment.
  • Summative feedback provided for both assignments

From students:

  • Questions picked up in class
  • Feedback from individual students encouraged through office hours
  • Students suggest themes or issues to be covered in final discussion panel.
  • Course survey at end of unit.

Recommended reading

H. de Haas, Castles, S and M. J. Miller (2020). The Age of Migration: international population movements in the modern world. 6th Edition. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Brettell, C. and J. F. Hollifield, Eds. (2015). Migration theory: talking across disciplines. New York and London, Routledge.

Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E., Ed. (2020). Refuge in a Moving World Tracing refugee and migrant journeys across disciplines, London, UCL Press. https://www.uclpress.co.uk/products/116728

Massey, D. S., J. Arango, G. Hugo, A. Kouaouci, A. Pellegrino and J. E. Taylor (1998). Worlds in motion: understanding international migration at the end of the millennium. Oxford, Clarendon Press.

Gatrell, P. (2019). The Unsettling of Europe: the great migration, 1945 to the present. London, Allen Lane.

Weinar, A. (ed). (2017). Emigration and Diaspora Policies in the Age of Mobility. Cham, Springer International Publishing.

Triandafyllidou, A. (2016). Routledge Handbook of Immigration and Refugee Studies. Abingdon, Oxon; New York, Routledge.

IOM (2019). World Migration Report 2020. Geneva, International Organization for Migration.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 18
Tutorials 6

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Oliver Bakewell Unit coordinator

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