BASS Sociology and Criminology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Postcolonial Politics

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI32062
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Focusing on the fascinating and intriguing study of postcolonial politics this module will  explore both classics in the field and a range of cutting edge postcolonial scholarship in  international politics, development studies, race and gender. This course introduces students to an approach to politics which emphasizes a global perspective. Postcolonial studies moves beyond both 'International Relations', which tends to discuss relations between states or great powers, and 'Third World Studies', which isolates certain parts of  the world and discusses them separately. In contrast to a view of the world as split into the industrialised, developed West and the underdeveloped or developing South, what this  module will explore is the relationships between these two areas, seeing them as mutually  constitutive: they produce each other. It examines how they have come to be produced as  distinct, and how these differences are perpetuated as well as resisted through practices of development, race, gender and neocolonialism. It explores critical analysis which points to ongoing, (often obscured) neocolonial attitudes and  practices, as well as possibilities for resistance; and it explores these topics by looking at real people in real places and through literature, film, art and music as well as the written word.  


The course unit aims to:  

• Consider the origin and aims of postcolonial studies and reflect on many of its key concepts such as 'power', 'identity' 'resistance' 'discourse', 'discipline', 'subjectivity', and 'orientalism'.  

• Introduce the prevailing political context of globalisation as trans-historic and foreground the legacy of imperialism/ colonialism.  

• Engage and discuss the chosen concepts through key thinkers including but not limited to Akala, Gloria Anzaldúa, Franz Fanon, Michel Foucault, Stuart Hall, bell hooks, Walter Mignolo, Edward Said and Minna Salami. 

• Enable students to employ the aforementioned key concepts and key thinkers to reflect on contemporary issues.  

• Develop students' oral skills (through general discussion), team-work skills (through group work), written skills (through the assessed essay and a group assignment), research skills (from the use and assessment of material from an array of sources), and critical and analytical skills.  


Learning outcomes

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

• An understanding of the place of Postcolonial Politics in international politics - its aims and objectives - and the meaning of important concepts such as ‘discourse’, ‘power’, ‘discipline’, ‘subjectivity’, ‘orientalism’, and ‘resistance’.

• An ability to understand and express a variety of key ideas and arguments linked to postcolonial concerns (such as subjectivity, resistance, discourse, discipline, decolonisation) and be able to argue about postcolonial issues (such as race, gender and development) with a deeper understanding of their intellectual background and legacy.

• An ability to understand and critically examine historical and ideational structures on which the discipline of international politics is founded which are indebted to colonialism

•  An ability to engage with key postcolonial thinkers

• An ability to apply the arguments and approaches studied to real and hypothetical cases.

• Oral, teamwork, written, and research skills.


Assessment methods

The course will be assessed in three ways:

  1. Assignment 1: Group presentation (20%),
  2. Assignment 2: Portfolio Assignment – Personal Reflection Piece: 700 words (15%)
  3. Assignment 3: A 2,600 word essay (65%).


Feedback methods

- Feedback will be provided on written work within 15 working days of submission via Blackboard (if submitted through Turnitin).

- Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.

- You will receive feedback in a standard format. This will rate your work in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation. If you have any queries about the feedback that receive you should make an appointment to see the module convenor during their designated office hours (of which there will be 2 every week of term).

- 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. 

Recommended reading


Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin (1989) The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-colonial Literatures  (London: Routledge) [A volume often credited with beginning Postcolonialism as a branch of literary studies.]

Loomba, A. (1998) Colonialism/Postcolonialism (Routledge) [Though based in literary studies again, this is a useful introduction to the scope of the field and the debates within it. Very introductory.]

Sanjay S. (ed.) (2012) Postcolonial Theory & International Relations: A Comprehensive Introduction (Routledge)  

Williams, Patrick, and Laura Chrisman. Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993

More Advanced:

Sankaran Krishna, Globalization & Postcolonialism: Hegemony and Resistance in the Twenty-first Century. Rowman & Littlefield, 2009. [Not a reader or edited volume, but a very useful survey of the field.]

Nalini Persram, ed. Postcolonialism and Political Theory, (Lexington Books, 2007) [Examines how postcolonialism can speak back to political theory.]

Robin L Riley and Naeem Inayatullah, eds. Interrogating Imperialism: Conversations on Gender, race and War. (Palgrave, 2006) [Focuses on US imperialism in the ‘war on terror’, particularly feminist scholarship]

Robbie Shilliam, ed. International Relations and Non-Western Thought: Imperialism, Colonialism and Investigations of Global Modernity. (Routledge, 2011). [Chapters explore the global imperial and colonial context within which knowledge of modernity has been developed.]

Edkins, Jenny, and Nick Vaughan-Williams, ed. Critical Theorists in International Relations. (London: Routledge, 2009) [An edited volume that contains chapters introducing a wide range of theorists, including Said, Fanon, and Spivak]

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Aoileann Ni Mhurchu Unit coordinator

Return to course details