MA International Relations (Standard)

Year of entry: 2022

Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

We understand that prospective students and offer-holders may have concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The University is following the advice from Universities UK, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Read our latest coronavirus information

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
Offered by Politics
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
Other 20%
Written assignment (inc essay) 80%

Assessment task

Length required

Weighting within unit


3200 words



800 words



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):  

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

Additional notes




Return to course details