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SOCI3082 Race and Ethnicity in Society

Module Overview

This module will explore the issues of race, racism, racial conflict, and race relations in contemporary Britain and worldwide. Although we will mainly refer to Britain, global examples from Europe, the US, the Caribbean, Africa, and South America will be frequently used. Beginning with colonial discourses of the “racial other”, and focusing on the start of mass colonial mass immigration to Britain in the aftermath of World War Two, this module will examine the various historical, social, cultural, and political forces and processes through which the concept and reality of race have been constructed, shaped, and changed over time. The intellectual rationale of this module is to introduce race and ethnicity both as arbitrary labels that are pinned on people who are “different” from “us”, while also being experienced as “lived” social divisions that impact on and limit people’s welfare, opportunities, and horizons through prejudice, and direct or indirect discrimination. Some key questions and issues that we will be thinking and talking about during this module include: What is race and racism? How/When does race emerge as a concept and a lived reality? Has racism always existed? (Why) is “the other” such a threat? (How) can race be understood as a social division? How does race relate to gender, ethnicity, politics and culture? Is nationalism a bad thing? Are some civilisations/cultures better than others? Is “difference” a good or a bad thing? Do we/can we ever live in a post-racial world? (Why) has multiculturalism failed? Is cosmopolitanism a utopia?

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The purpose of this module is to introduce you to the current and historical significance of race and ethnicity, not as abstractions but as “lived” realities that engender social divisions within as well as between societies. To achieve its designed aims, the module will explore a number of key themes, perspectives, and concerns that dominate the theory, research, and public debate on issues of race and ethnicity in Britain and worldwide. The entire module is therefore designed to broaden our acquaintance with race and ethnicity by bringing together our intellectual, visual, and sensual faculties through a variety of textual and audiovisual material and resources, as befits a 21st century curriculum.

Learning Outcomes

Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Present evidence and argument, question, and debate
  • Conduct research, collect, and analyse data
  • Use a range of software (e.g. word processing, presentation software, and Virtual Learning Environments such as Blackboard)
  • Administer projects, plan work, manage time, write and edit, give oral presentations
Disciplinary Specific Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of sociological perspectives on race, ethnicity, and difference
  • Appreciate and treat race and ethnicity as historically variable and contextually-situated social constructs
  • Understand and conceptualise race and ethnicity at the intersection of both institutional/social structure(s) and individual agency through social interaction
  • Reflect on own experiences, as well as public discussion and media reports, to evaluate race, ethnicity, and difference in a theoretically and empirically-informed manner.
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Think critically, analytically, and comparatively
  • Logically synthesise information across different perspectives
  • Challenge conventional/common-sense thinking about social phenomena and social divisions such as race and ethnicity
  • Understand the possibility and impact of social change in an increasingly global world


The curricular content of this module focuses on sociological interpretations of concepts, themes, issues, and debates around Race and Ethnicity, Colonialism and Postcolonialism, Citizenship and Multiculturalism, and Post-raciality and Racelessness. Each of those terms has a long, complicated and often contested history and development both as theoretical ideas, as well as social, cultural and political practices. Lectures will therefore be organised thematically around those broad themes to familiarise students with what such terms mean, how they have been used and how useful and meaningful they are and/or can be as potential resources for social justice in a global world.

Special Features

Introduction of the #Everyday Racism mobile phone app as a learning resource/activity. This is a a game/education app, which challenges players to live a week in the life of an Aboriginal man, a Muslim woman, an Indian student or just yourself. The app has been developed for educational purposes by the University of Western Sydney, Deakin University and Melbourne University, and will be free to use/download.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The proposed teaching methodology for this module consists primarily of lectures and seminars. While lectures and seminars will occupy a central part as a teaching and learning activity, the use of an mobile phone app (#Everyday Racism) will also be introduced as a teaching innovation. This is intended to help students ‘develop’, ‘appreciate’, ‘understand’, and ‘reflect’ on the specific module content and orient them towards achieving the learning outcomes described above. This mix of teaching and learning activities will be directly linked to assessments by asking students to produce a portfolio that will draw directly on their experience of using that app. Details about the app will be provided in the Module Handbook and during lectures.

Completion of assessment task76
Wider reading or practice44
Preparation for scheduled sessions7.5
Follow-up work7.5
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Back, L. and Solomos, J. (1999). Theories of Race and Racism. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Critical essay 40%
Group presentation  (20 minutes) 40%
Narrative non-fiction assignment 20%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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