The Sociology of Race and Empire

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sarah Salem STC S218


This course is available on the BSc in Language, Culture and Society, BSc in Social Policy and Sociology 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.

Course content

The course provides an introduction to theoretical, historical and contemporary debates around race, racism and empire. It firstly explores the main theoretical perspectives which have been used to analyse the production of race, racism and colonialism in a historical and contemporary framework, and the role of historical events in creating difference, including the “discovery” of the Americas, the transatlantic slave trade, the expansion of European empires, and the Renaissance and Enlightenment among others. It then examines in more detail the areas both theoretical and lived within our contemporary social and political climate where analyses of ‘race’, racism, belonging and identity are urgently needed; as well as the ways in which various categories such as class, gender, sexuality, among others, intersect with race. The course adopts a global lens, focusing on theory and cases from across the world. Topics include: race and empire in historical perspective; race and empire in social theory; colonialism, settler colonialism and post-colonialism; biopolitics and difference; capitalism and race; intersectionality; whiteness, diaspora and hybridity; race, genetics, disease and contamination; race and popular culture; global migration and multiculturalism; the Far Right and the white working class; and the role of race and racism in technology and the future.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures/seminars, online materials and classes totalling a minimum of 40 hours across MT and LT.

Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in MT Week 6 and LT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

One reading reflection (MT) and one formative essay (LT).

Indicative reading

• L Back & J Solomos (Eds), Theories of Race and Racism (2nd Edition, Routledge 2009);

• DF Da Silva, Toward a Global Idea of Race (U Minnesota Press 2007);

• Y Gunaratnam, Researching ‘Race’ and Ethnicity: Methods, knowledge and power (Sage 2003);

• J Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Duke UP 2017);

• C Mohanty, Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity (Duke UP 2003);

• H Mirza (Ed), Black British Feminism (Routledge 1997);

• P Gilroy, There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack (Hutchinson 1987);

• E Baptist, The half has never been told: Slavery and the making of American capitalism (Hachette 2016);

• P Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought (Routledge 1991);

• F Fanon, Black skin, White Masks (Grove press 2008);

• P.H. Collins & J. Solomos (eds) Sage Handbook of Race and Ethnic Studies (Sage 2010);


Essay (30%) in the LT.
Essay (50%, 3000 words) in the ST.
Class participation (20%) in the MT and LT.

An electronic copy of the assessed essays, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the submission day.

The first assessed essay, a book/film review, is due on the first Thursday of Lent Term and the second assessed essay is due by the third Thursday of Summer Term. 

Attendance at all classes and submission of all set coursework is required.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
First 18.3
2:1 59.2
2:2 18.3
Third 0
Fail 4.2

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: Sociology

Total students 2019/20: 41

Average class size 2019/20: 14

Capped 2019/20: Yes (41)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information