BASS Politics and Criminology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Decolonising Sociology

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOCY20302
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course will examine how the discipline of sociology was shaped by the historical project of empire. Equally, it will consider how sociology might be an effective tool for antiracist and anti-colonial social movements. In addition to revisiting foundational sociological texts, the course will engage with social theory from the global South and with interdisciplinary bodies of literature, such as postcolonial and decolonial theory, Third World feminism, Black Marxism, and Indigenous studies of the climate crisis. Theoretical readings will be interspersed with contemporary and historical case studies, and students will be encouraged to critically consider whether and how decolonial perspectives might be applied to the contemporary social world.  


The course unit aims to:  

• Explore the historical relationship between sociology and empire.  

• Critically engage with social theory through a decolonial lens.  

• Explore decolonial approaches to social research methods.  

• Consider how decolonial thought has created space for reimagining the university and the curriculum.  

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures will introduce students to key theoretical and empirical topics. They will draw together the readings, situate them within their historical context, and apply the key topics to contemporary social issues. Multimedia tools will include video clips and online polls. Students will be encouraged to ask questions and respond to provocations in lecture.  
Week 9 will include an interactive lecture, in which students will share their individual reflections and discuss them in small groups. Week 10 will also devote a substantial amount of time to student questions.  

Tutorials will delve into the readings in closer detail, and will encourage students to apply them more directly to familiar empirical cases. Tutorials will encourage discussion, debate, and nuanced engagement rather than presenting a singular interpretation of key texts. Throughout the semester, the lecturer will announce relevant events (including departmental and external seminars and conferences) and will encourage interested students to attend.  

Course content, required readings, and lecture slides will be made available on Blackboard. Lectures will be recorded and made available as podcasts.  

Knowledge and understanding

Student should be able to

  • Be familiar with decolonial critiques of sociology.
  • Understand decolonial approaches to social research methods.
  • Be able to critically examine major contemporary political, social, and cultural issues.

Intellectual skills

Student should be able to:  

  • Evaluate competing analytical perspectives  
  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of empirical evidence  
  • Employ material available from academic, media and policy sources to make effective arguments  

Practical skills

Student should be able to:  

  • Use library and electronic sources and resources  
  • Engage reflexively with academic texts  

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Student should be able to:  

  • Present ideas and ask questions in group discussion  
  • Read actively and critically  
  • Develop a critical approach to contemporary debates on the history and legacies of empire  

Assessment methods

Assessed written end-of-semester coursework (2000 words, 100%) 

Non-assessed eight half-page reflections on key readings, submitted weekly (weeks 2-9) 

Feedback methods

All sociology courses include both formative feedback - which lets you know how you're getting on and what you could do to improve - and summative feedback - which gives you a mark for your assessed work.  

Recommended reading

Anthias, F., Yuval-Davis, N. and Cain, H. (1991) Racialized Boundaries: Race, Nation, Gender, Colour and Class and the Anti-Racist Struggle. Abingdon: Routledge.  

Bhambra, G. (2014) Connected Sociologies. London: Bloomsbury.  

Chilisa, B. (2019) Indigenous Research Methodologies, 2nd ed. London: Sage.  

Connell, R. (2019) The Good University: What Universities Actually Do and Why It's Time for Radical Change. London: Zed.  

De Sousa Santos, B. (2016) Epistemologies of the South: Justice against Epistemicide. Abingdon: Routledge.  

Go, J. (2016) Postcolonial Thought and Social Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kwoba, B., Chantiluke, R. and Nkopo, A. (2018) Rhodes Must Fall: The Struggle to Decolonise the Racist Heart of Empire. London: Zed.

Meghji, A. (2020) Decolonizing Sociology. Cambridge: Polity.  

Mohanty, C. (1988) 'Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses.' Feminist Review 30: 61-88.  

Smith, L.T. (2012) Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed.  

Tuck, E. and K.W. Yang. (2012) 'Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor.' Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1(1): 1-40.  

Wynter, S. (2003) 'Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation-An Argument.' CR: The New Centennial Review 3(3): 257-337.  

Yusoff, K. (2018) A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.  

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Meghan Tinsley Unit coordinator

Additional notes

30 hours directed reading

20 hours lectures

10 hours seminars

140 hours independent study

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