GV498      Half Unit

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Chandran Kukathas


This course is available on the MSc in Global Europe: Culture and Conflict, MSc in Global Europe: Culture and Conflict (LSE & Sciences Po), MSc in International Migration and Public Policy and MSc in Political Theory. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


This course is capped at two groups. The deadline for applications is 12:00 noon on Friday 5 October 2018. You will be informed of the outcome by 12:00 noon on Monday 8 October.

Course content

This seminar explores the political and epistemological issues of multiculturalism, broadly understood, in contemporary political theory. After deciding on a tentative definition for “culture,” we will explore how and why the concept has become so integral to normative theories of contemporary political life. In particular, we will focus on how increasing recognition of plurality within liberal democratic regimes has led to new theories of both culture and community. Along the way, we will consider normative questions such as: Should we encourage “global citizenship,” or should we celebrate the local and the national? If cultures are dynamic and hybrid entities, how can they be identified and protected politically? Are there significant and legitimate differences between “the West” and “the rest”—and if so, how must our interpretive approach change as we include voices from culturally diverse groups into already-established political communities? Significant attention will be given to the question of immigration and its impact on modern societies, and in particular to the matter of whether concerns about cultural protection have a bearing on immigration control.


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students are invited to write one 1500 word formative essay, due no later than week 8.

Indicative reading

Will Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship; Brian Barry, Culture and Equality; Chandran Kukathas, The Liberal Archipelago; Iris Young, Justice and the Politics of Difference; Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture.


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 7.1
Merit 78.6
Pass 10.7
Fail 3.6

Teachers' comment

Student response to this seminar-style course has been very positive, though students frequently request the inclusion of lectures. Because this is a postgraduate political theory course, however, there are strong pedagogical reasons for conducting it as a seminar--which also conforms to best practice at top research universities in the US and elsewhere. I do not lecture because I hope to create an egalitarian environment for intense, fruitful discussion.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2017/18: Unavailable

Average class size 2017/18: Unavailable

Controlled access 2017/18: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills