National and Community Identity

Module titleNational and Community Identity
Module codePOC2018
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Joanie Willett (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Identity politics is a topic which infuses all levels of political debate, from big questions around ethnicity and race, to apparently smaller, and more subtle questions, such as what actually canI absorb into my identity?  However, this latter puzzle carries enormous implications that reverberate throughout both domestic and global politics.  In this module you will explore how identities function both within communities and groups, but also regarding individuals sense of self, and what problems and possibilities this opens up.

The first part of the module develops a range of theoretical tools, which later are applied to specific and topical case studies, encouraging students to think critically around some ‘taken for granted’ issues.

Whilst prior studies of politics would be an advantage (particularly around political analysis, international studies and policy), interdisciplinary students would also find this a satisfying topic within which to engage.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module explores the question of to what extent policy needs to consider the politics of identity, through the concepts of belonging and difference. It builds on themes introduced in British Politics, the State of Britain, and some elements of Modern Political Analysis and the Globalisation of World Politics, at points where politics and sociology meet.

In practical terms, it introduces students to the idea of communities as imagined narratives which have a function within society, which is extended to national identity where we consider questions relating to the extent to which identity is learned or an accident of birth. The module next takes in the idea that identity is not just about ‘belonging to’, but also about asserting ‘difference from’ other groups. This, and belonging has an impact not just on how groups see themselves, but also how they are perceived by others which affects the kinds of opportunities and courses for action that lie open to group members. The effects of this have impacts beyond public and international policy, extending to the terms of political discourse and social justice.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate a substantive understanding of the importance that identity plays for individuals and communities, and the impact that this has for UK and global policy.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 2. use primary and secondary sources to indentify and construct arguments on a policy and theoretical level. They will also be able to make informed judgements about the policy implications of abstract concepts, and assess possible outcomes.
  • 3. make informed judgements about the policy implications of abstract concepts, and assess possible

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. formulate complex arguments about theory and policy, with clarity and precision in written and oral presentations.
  • 5. formulate their own conclusions based on differing forms of evidence.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

1. Introduction to syllabus, imagining the community and narratives of identity.

2. The function of identity

3. National identity

4. Race or ethnicity? Social learning or accident of birth?

5. Identity as ‘difference’,

6. The construction of difference.

7. Structure vs Agency? What affects does identity have?

8. Case Study 1: Cornish Nationalism.

9. Case Study 2: The British Muslim.

10. Identity, policy and political discourse.

11. Revision session

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and teaching activity 1111 x 1 hour lectures
Scheduled Learning and teaching activity 77 x 1 hour seminars, some of which will be student led with formal presentations and student facilitation of discussion
Guided Independent study5Preparation for student led seminar
Guided Independent study40 Preparation for 1st Essay (summative)
Guided Independent study40 Preparation for 2nd Essay (summative)
Guided Independent study47 Private study


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
1 x student led seminar15 minutesAllVerbal feedback on review

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay 502,500 wordsAllWritten and verbal feedback on review
Essay 502,500 wordsAllWritten and verbal feedback on review


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay Essay (2,500 words)AllSeptember assessment period
EssayEssay (2,500 words)AllSeptember assessment period


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Anderson, B. Imagined Communities; Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1991, Revised Edition).

Durkheim, E. Suicide, A Study in Sociology (London: Routledge, 1987 [1897]).

Freud, S. Civilization And Its Discontents (London: Penguin Books, 2004 [1930]).

L, Hinchman., S, Hinchman (eds) Memory, Identity, Community; The Idea of Narrative in the Human

Sciences (New York: State University of New York Press, 2001).

Hutchinson, J. Nations as Zones of Conflict (London: Sage Publications, 2005).

Hutto, D. (ed) Narrative and Understanding Persons (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

Nietszche, F. On the Genealogy of Morality, K, Ansell-Pearson (ed) (Cambridge: Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought, (1994) [1887]).

Said, E. Orientalism (London: Penguin Books, 2003).

Smith, A. National Identity (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd, 1991).

Smith, A. Nationalism and Modernism (Oxon: Routledge, 1998).

Tonnies, F. Community and association : Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (Imprint London : Routledge & K.Paul, 1955).

Payton, P (ed) Cornish Studies Series 1-18, University of Exeter Press.

Hopkins, P. Muslims in Britain: Race, Place and Identities (Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh: 2008).

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

National Community, Identity, Politics, Ethnicity

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date