BAEcon Development Studies

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Liberalism and Empire

Unit code POLI30252
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No

Pre/co-requisites

Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Introduction to Political Theory POLI10702 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Ideals of Social Justice POLI20881 Pre-Requisite Compulsory

Aims

The course unit aims to:

Equip students:

  • To critically evaluate the relevance of the history of ideas
  • To deepen their knowledge of the history of liberal thought
  • To analyse the role of empire and colonialism in normative theorising
  • To critically assess the analytic employment of concepts such as empire, liberalism, colonialism and racism
  • To reflect on the historical origins of liberalism and their contemporary significance

Learning outcomes

Student should be able to

 

Knowledge and Understanding: 

  • Understand the debates on the historical links between liberalism and empire
  • Understand critical and analytical approaches to the relevance of colonialism and racism for modern liberal thought
  • Understand how colonialism is normatively theorised within liberal political theory

 

Intellectual skills: 

  • Analyse the role of colonialism in key debates within modern liberal thought
  • Assess the relevance of the history of ideas
  • Construct, critique and defend arguments

 

Practical skills: 

  • Independent research to support essay writing
  • Writing skills
  • Analysing texts

 

Transferable skills and personal qualities:  

  • Critical thinking
  • Constructive criticism and engagement with peers
  • Independent working and research

Syllabus

Indicative topic list:
1.    Introduction: What is Liberalism and Empire?
2.    Locke, Mill and Civilisation 
3.    Anticolonials – Diderot, Wollstonecraft and Kant
4.    Racial Liberalism
5.    The Significance of the History of Ideas
6.    Historic Injustice
7.    Empire and Global Justice
8.    Borders and Colonialism
9.    Responsibility to Protect and Imperialism
10.    Decolonising Liberalism

Teaching and learning methods

Description of T&L Methods

The course will be taught on the basis of ten two-hour lectures and ten one-hour seminars. Students will be expected to read key texts in advance of seminars to enable direct engagement with the texts and broader informed discussion. The seminars will comprise a mix of question-and-answer sessions and small group work. They will thus provide opportunities to engage with peers, develop arguments and seek clarification from the module leader. 

 

Assessment:

Assessment will be two essays, each asking students to critically reflect on and analyse one of the two key topics of the course. First, the contemporary relevance of liberalism’s historical link to empire. Second, the role of colonialism in one area of contemporary liberal thought. The first essay is based on the first four weeks and the second on the final six weeks.

 

Essay 1 (50%): 3000 words

Students will be asked to answer the following question:

Is liberalism’s historical link to empire relevant to liberal thought today?

The assignment will be discussed in the first half of the course to prepare students and to ensure that they understand the nature of the question. The first four weeks will all discuss variations of the question in relation to the reading material and additional sources, such as podcast and videos. In addition, a short video explaining the task and the marking criteria will be posted on Blackboard.

 

Essay 2 (50%): 3000 words

Students will be given a choice of four questions, as well as the opportunity to write their own essay question subject to approval from the module leader. These questions ask students to discuss the role of colonialism in one specific topic in contemporary liberal thought. Students will be asked to critically discuss what, if any, role colonialism does and should play in liberal, normative, theorising on these topics. Again, a short video explaining the task and the marking criteria will be posted on Blackboard.

 

Intellectual skills

  • Analyse the role of colonialism in key debates within modern liberal thought
  • Assess the relevance of the history of ideas
  • Construct, critique and defend arguments

Practical skills

  • Independent research to support essay writing
  • Writing skills
  • Analysing texts

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Critical thinking
  • Constructive criticism and engagement with peers
  • Independent working and research

Assessment methods

Two essays of 3000 words, worth 50% each

Feedback methods

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission. Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June. For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results. You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor. On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be of a more informal kind and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff. You will also have the opportunity to receive feedback on essay plans.

Recommended reading

 

Bell, Duncan (2016), Reordering the World: Essays on Liberalism and Empire, Princeton: Princeton University Press

 

Mills, Charles (2015) ‘Decolonizing Western Political Philosophy’, New Political Science 37 (1), pp. 1–24

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Clara Sandelind Unit coordinator

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