Theories and Problems of Nationalism

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof John Breuilly CON3.04 and Dr Douglas Hutchinson CON 3.21


This course is available on the BSc in Government, BSc in Government and Economics, BSc in Government and History, BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and History, BSc in Politics and Philosophy, BSc in Social Policy and Sociology, BSc in Social Policy with Government and BSc in Sociology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


Students should have completed a suitable course in Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science, International Relations or History. Government students should have completed GV101 Introduction to Political Science.

Course content

This course considers debates concerning the increasing importance of nationalism and ethnic identity in modern history, their impact on political movements, states and international relations.

There are three principal concerns:

1. Theories of nationalism and ethnicity, including  primordialist, ethno-symbolic, modernist and post-modernist approaches.  These will be compared and critiqued.

2. The development of various kinds of nations, nation-states and nationalisms from pre-modern Europe to the global present, and a consideration of various concepts (e.g. civic/ethnic, political/cultural, Asian and African forms of nationalism) frequently used to understand as well as evaluate these historical and contemporary phenomena.

3. Nationalism and transnational politics, including problems of state sovereignty, secession and national self-determination; the European union, globalisation and religious fundamentalism.


10 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 2 hours of classes in the ST.

Indicative reading

E Kedourie, Nationalism, Hutchinson, 1960; E Gellner, Nations and Nationalism, Blackwell, 2006; H Kohn The Idea of Nationalism, Transaction, 2005; H Seton-Watson, Nations and States, Methuen, 1977; B Anderson, Imagined Communities, Verso Books, 1983/1991; J Mayall, Nationalism and International Society, Cambridge University Press, 1990; E Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism since 1780, Cambridge University Press, 1990; A D Smith, Nationalism, Polity 2010; J Breuilly, Nationalism and the State, Manchester University Press, 2nd edn, 1993; J Hutchinson, Nations as Zones of Conflict, Sage, 2004; W Connor, Ethno-Nationalism: The Quest for Understanding, Princeton University Press, 1994; J Hutchinson & A D Smith (Eds) Ethnicity, Oxford University Press, 1996; A Hastings, The Construction of Nationhood, Cambridge University Press, 1997; A D Smith, Nationalism and Modernism, Routledge, 1998, M Hechter, Containing Nationalism, Oxford University Press, 2000; Jonathan Hearn, Rethinking Nationalism: a critical introduction, Palgrave, 2006.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills