Identity in International Relations

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

This module explores the analytical and normative value of taking an ‘identity perspective’ in the study of world politics. It looks at the emergence and development of the concept of identity in the academic field of International Relations (IR) and how key aspects, such as collective identity, Self and Other, difference and multiplicity, are dealt with from a variety of perspectives and levels of analysis.

Students will be introduced to liberal, realist, postmodern and postcolonial readings of subject formation and political identity 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. Prior knowledge of core debates in the field of International Relations is required.

Please note that student numbers on this module are capped.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

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

  • Understand the academic and policy debates on ‘identity’ in international politics
  • Gain a familiarity with different theoretical angles on processes of identity formation, their occurrence in international relations and their impact on politics.
  • Recognize and discuss the role played by norms, ideas, discourses and practices within phenomena of socialization and boundary drawing.
  • Grasp the ethical dimension of identity politics, and to integrate an ‘identity perspective’ in an analytical framework applied to a specific empirical case.
  • Improve their discussion, presentation and research skills


This module will be taught over 10 weeks with:

  • 2 hour lecture/seminar per week

Method of assessment

Assignment 1: Essay 40%
Unseen written examination: 60%


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules