SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Identity in International Relations

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Term 1

This module 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 IR and asks how scholars have engaged its key parameters – notions of individual and social identity, Self and Other, difference and similarity – from the systemic to the state level. Students will debate what it means for communities to seek an ‘identity’ and introduced to liberal/cosmopolitan, realist/communitarian and postcolonial/postmodern readings of identity formation in IR. They will discuss processes and features of identity politics such as bordering, bonding, discrimination and socialisation and examine how these play out in specific cases ranging from violent conflict to peaceful integration. Throughout, students will be asked to consider the ethical issues tied to an identity perspective and will be introduced to methodologies suitable for undertaking research in this area.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the module, students should be able to demonstrate:

  • Familiarity with the academic literature and debates on ‘identity’ in international politics; the ability to critically engage this literature and grasp the ethical dimension of identity politics
  • An understanding of processes of identity formation and their role in international politics by drawing on scholarship in Social Theory, Political Psychology, International Relations, Foreign Policy Analysis and Nationalism
  • The ability to present and critique competing scholarly arguments
  • The ability to undertake an independent research project applying an identity perspective to a specific case using suitable research techniques

Method of assessment

Assessment is 70% coursework (comprising one 6000 word essay), 10% seminar participation, and 20% seminar presentation.


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