BASS Politics and Criminology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Social Thought from the Global South

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOCY30501
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course introduces students to some of the key social theories and thinkers from the global South. The course's starting point is that classical and mainstream social theory has emerged and evolved in a particular context, and as a result of colonial and imperial power relations. As a result, it is crucial for contemporary social scientists to engage with projects of Southern theory (Connell 2007) or Theory from the South (Comaroff & Comaroff 2012), and provincialize European understanding of society and modernity (Chakrabarty 2009). The course will be divided to two main sections as well as an introduction and a conclusion.

The first section will focus on four theories which originated as a collective endeavour of a number of scholars in the South: postcolonialism, subaltern studies, dependency theory and decolonial theory. In the second section, our focus will be on a number of individual social thinkers from different parts of the global South, their stories and social thoughts: Ibn Khaldun (Tunisia), Paulin Hountondji (Benin), Ali Shariati (Iran) and Veena Das (India). Questions surrounding biases of Eurocentrism, notions of power, indigenous knowledge, dependency and Islam among others will help students grapple with complex ideas, the historical and socio-cultural circumstances surrounding these ideas, their connections and their significance in sociological analysis and political practice.


The course unit aims to:

  • Illustrate how and why classical and mainstream social theory is Eurocentric and constructed from the point of view of the global North.
  • Demonstrate how a systematic engagement with the global South contributes to a more global and inclusive social science.
  • Introduce students to the most important theories and social thinkers from the global South.
  • Encourage students to critically reflect on the debates and issues raised by social thinkers from the global South.

Teaching and learning methods

Each week contains a two-hour interactive lecture followed by a workshop/tutorial. The course will utilise Blackboard to deliver the modules core readings, lecture slides, any supplementary materials, and communication.

Knowledge and understanding

Student should be able to:

  • Understand and engage critically with a number of respected and key theorists/issues from the Global South.
  • Assess the relevance of Southern experience for understanding the contemporary world.
  • Explore the distinctive contribution of social thoughts from the Global South for the generation of sociological knowledge.

Intellectual skills

Student should be able to:

  • Develop a critical approach to social theory and recognise that it is possible to view the social world through different theoretical lenses.
  • Develop the ability to compare sociological perspectives across the North-South divide.
  • Asses the social and historical context within which theories and concepts develop.

Practical skills

  • Reading skills.
  • Using library and electronic resources.
  • Presentation and speaking skills.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Engage critically with concepts, theories and practices.
  • Articulate ideas and present/discuss them in groups.

Assessment methods

Non-assesed written coursework (400 words).

Written end-of-semester coursework (2500 words, 100%)

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

  • Bhambra, Gurminder K. (2014) Connected Sociologies. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Connell, Raewyn (2007) Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in Social Science. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Dabashi, Hamid (2015) Can Non-Europeans Think? London and New York: Zed Books.
  • De Sousa Santos, B. (2007) (ed) Another Knowledge is Possible: Beyond Northern Epistemologies. London: Verso.
  • Alatas, Syed Farid and Vineeta Sinha (2017) Sociological Theory Beyond the Canon. London: Palgrave.
  • Comaroff, Jean and John L Comaroff (2011) Theory from the South: Or, How EuroAmerica is Evolving toward Africa. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Simin Fadaee Unit coordinator

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