SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Identity in International Relations

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 3 of 3 or Year 4 of 4
Taught in:
Term 2

This course provides an option for advanced students which systematically explores the analytical and normative value of taking an ‘identity perspective’ in the study of international politics. It looks at the emergence of ‘identity’ in the discipline of International Relations (IR) and how key aspects of the concept, such as collective identity, Self and Other, difference and similarity, are dealt with from a variety of perspectives and levels of analysis.

Students will be introduced to liberal/cosmopolitan, realist/communitarian and postcolonial/postmodern readings of identity formation by drawing on scholarship ranging from Social Theory and Political Psychology to International Relations Theory, Foreign Policy Analysis and Nationalism. They will discuss parameters and processes of identity politics like bordering, bonding, discrimination and socialisation and assess their role in specific phenomena of conflict/violence and peace/integration in international relations. Throughout, students will be asked to debate the ethical issues tied to an identity perspective; they also will be introduced to methodologies suitable for undertaking research in this area.

This module is capped at 40 students. 

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of a course, students will be able to demonstrate... 

  • An understanding of the academic and policy debates on ‘identity’ in international politics
  • Familiarity with different theoretical angles on processes of identity formation, their occurrence in international relations and their impact on politics.
  • The ability to recognize and discuss the role played by norms, ideas, discourses and practices within phenomena of socialization and boundary drawing.
  • A grasp the ethical dimension of identity politics, and to integrate an ‘identity perspective’ in an analytical framework applied to a specific empirical case.
  • Improvement in their discussion, presentation and research skills


  • 2 hour lecture/seminar per week

Method of assessment

Assessment is 60% unseen exam, 40% coursework


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules