SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Decolonising World Politics

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 3 of 3 or Year 4 of 4
Taught in:
Term 1

Decolonisation was a set of historical processes that radically transformed international politics in practice and thought. The emergence of a world of sovereign states - a core premise for International Relations - is founded on the assumed completion of such processes. Yet increasingly, research in the field points to a number of ongoing theoretical, methodological and practical issues that result from the colonial and post-colonial constitution of global order. This module asks what it means to 'decolonise International Relations' by engaging with the challenges posed by anti-colonial, post-colonial and de-colonial thinkers on such issues. We will do so by critically examining the complexity and diversity of anti-colonial movements and thinkers, mainly in Anglophone contexts. We will study colonialism and anti-colonialism as international and transnational in thought and practice by exploring how both the colonised and the coloniser were transformed by decolonisation. We will also consider the contemporary relevance of decolonisation by looking at the condition of postcolonialism. In addition we will examine the intersections between 'race', gender and class. In doing so we will critically examine the relationships between theory and practice, text and action, thought and history.


153400084 Introduction to Global History OR 153400085 Introduction to International Relations OR 153400001 Introduction to Political Theory 

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Understand the historical complexity of decolonisation as an international and transnational process
  • Understand, use and critique a range of different interpretations of colonialism and decolonisation
  • Critically deploy 'decolonial' methods in historical and theoretical analysis
  • Identify relationships between history, theory and practice


This module will be taught over 10 weeks with:

  • 1 hour lecture per week
  • 1 hour tutorial per week

Scope and syllabus

Issues covered in the module include, but are not limited to:

  • meanings of decolonisation
  • debates on empire and imperialism
  • anti-colonial debates on identity and culture
  • anti-colonial nationalisms and internationalisms
  • scholarly trends in postcolonial thought
  • historical and contemporary anti-racist thought and practice

The majority of the cases discussed in the module relate to Asia, Africa and the Anglophone metropole, with occasional reference to Latin America, and Spanish/French empires.

Method of assessment

Assignment 1: Reading Questions 30%
Assignment 2: Reading Questions 70%

Suggested reading

  • Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt. The souls of black folk. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1903.
  • Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press. 2004
  • Davis, Angela Y. Women, race, & class. London: Vintage, 2011.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules