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Study information

Anarchism and World Ordering

Module titleAnarchism and World Ordering
Module codePOL3124
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Dr Alex Prichard (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

With the end of the Cold War and the collapsing hegemony of Marxist-Leninism on the left, many on the right claim that the neo-liberal world order constitutes the ‘end of history’ (Fukuyama 1989). And yet capitalism is in crisis and protest erupts everywhere. In the aftermath of the so-called ‘battle for Seattle’ in 1999, Occupy Wall Street and the anti-G8 demonstrations, this liberal triumphalism is once again contested. Today it is the anarchists and anarchism that provides the intellectual and practical framework for thinking about alternatives to capitalism across large swaths of the left. Once consigned to Trotsky’s ‘dustbin of history’, the development of ideas of horizontalism, general assemblies, anti-hierarchical organising and a DIY philosophy, has caught many by surprise. Few if any have more than a superficial understanding of this infamous tradition in the history of political thought.  Moreover, and ironically from the perspective of a discipline that has anarchy at its heart, IR has failed routinely to engage with anarchist thought. This research-led module will provide you with a unique account of this resurgence by locating anarchism as a social practice in the historical development of ‘the international’.

Module aims - intentions of the module

By approaching the development of 'the international' from the perspective of anarchist international political theory, you will come to see the world through a unique set of lenses. This will help clarify your own views on a range of topics form global capitalism to international law, climate change and US empire.  This research-led module will provide a deep and broad understanding of anarchist approaches to world ordering and explore how anarchist practices themselves shape the contemporary world order. The module follows a broadly chronological structure, showing how anarchists have responded to the world ordering projects of their opponents, and how contemporary anarchist theory might help us think about world ordering more generally. The aim is to use historical experiences of anarchist theory and practice to shed light on the origins and trajectory of the contemporary neo-liberal world order and to evaluate these sets of critiques in the light of wider debates in International Relations and political theory.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. contrast historic and contemporary world orders;
  • 2. identify the contrasts and similarities in anarchist thought as it evolved over time;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 3. demonstrate understanding of anarchist approaches to international relations;
  • 4. critically engage mainstream accounts of international relations from an anarchist perspective;

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 5. present complex arguments with clarity and concision;
  • 6. identify spurious conclusions and distinguish rigorous from merely persuasive argument; and
  • 7. express complex ideas clearly in both written and oral form.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Capitalism, slavery and private property
  • Democracy and power
  • Syndicalism and the global spread of anarchism
  • Anarchism and terrorism
  • Anarchism, war and revolution
  • Chomsky, US Empire and moral truisms
  • Postanarchism
  • Social Ecology  
  • Anarchafeminism
  • Anarchism and global constitutionalism 

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 & Teaching activities 442 hours per week for 22 weeks. Small group work, presentations, discussion, reflection
Guided Independent Study100Preparation for class and further reading
Guided Independent Study16Summative class presentation
Guided Independent Study70First summative essay
Guided Independent Study70Second summative essay

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
2 x Essay plans250 words1-7Written

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
One group presentation1015 minutes1-7Written
First summative essay453,000 words1-7Written
Second summative essay453,000 words1-7Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group presentationEssay (500 words)1-7August/September re-assessment period
First summative essayEssay (3,000 words)1-7August/September re-assessment period
Second summative essayEssay (3,000 words)1-7August/September re-assessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Uri Gordon, Anarchy Alive!: Anti-Authoritarian Politics from Practice to Theory (London: Pluto Press, 2008).

Alex Prichard, Anarchism. A very short introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2022).

Ruth Kinna, The Government of No One (London: Penguin, 2019)

Key words search

Anarchism, World Ordering, International Political Theory, International Relations, Political Theory

Credit value30
Module ECTS


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