GV498      Half Unit

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Paul Apostolidis


This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe (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 17:00 on Tuesday 29 September 2020. You will be informed of the outcome by 17:00 on Wednesday 30 September 2020.

Course content

This seminar explores political-theoretical questions associated with contemporary debates about multiculturalism. First, we confront normative issues concerning what it means for a state and its citizens to give “recognition” to particular cultures in societies with diverse cultural attachments and dominant cultural tendencies. On what principles of freedom, equality, or moral duty can group demands for cultural recognition be justified? What questionable assumptions about the meaning of “culture” might arguments regarding cultural recognition involve and what political implications follow from probing these assumptions? Next, we place these normative problems in a wider context by considering how cultural activities are entangled with systems of social domination. Texts in this phase combine political theory with empirical studies of indigenous, racial/ethnic minority, and religious politics. How might demands for social justice and pluralistic cultural expression mutually reinforce or conflict with one another? What confluences and tensions exist between liberal principles invoked in debates about multiculturalism and subaltern groups’ struggles for power through cultural action? How has imperial power shaped the composition of cultural identities, and how should frictions between multiculturalist projects and anti-imperial struggles be navigated?


This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Lent Term. Some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus lectures and seminars. There will be a reading week in Week 6 of the Lent Term.

Formative coursework

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

Indicative reading

Charles Taylor, “The Politics of Recognition”; Will Kymlicka, “Multicultural Citizenship”; Iris Marion Young, "Polity and Group Difference”; Cristina Beltrán, “The Trouble with Unity: Latino Politics and the Creation of Identity”; Saba Mahmood, “Religious Reason and Secular Affect”; Glenn Coulthard, “Red Skin, White Masks”; Charles W. Mills, “Multiculturalism as/and/or Anti-Racism?”


Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 22.6
Merit 66
Pass 11.3
Fail 0

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.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2019/20: 28

Average class size 2019/20: 13

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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