Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2023 to 2024.


The aim of the module is offer an understanding of nationalism as a political phenomenon, approached from different perspectives and appreciated in its manifestations across time and space. The module first introduces and discusses the concepts of nations and nationalism and their distinctions from related concepts such as state, ethnic group, region etc. It then charts the emergence of nationalism, its success in becoming the dominant principle of political organisation, and its diffusion around the world. Subsequently, it engages with the main theories seeking to account for this process, discussing their respective strengths and weaknesses. It then explores the tensions between state and regional nationalism and some of the theories put forward to explain the latter. In a further step, it discusses some of the key aspects of nationalism, such as nation-building, national identity, nationalism and state structures, nationalism and secession, and the challenge of supra-national integration. It concludes by discussing some of the key normative questions raised by nationalism and assessing the likely trajectory of nationalism in the foreseeable future. By so doing, the module offers an analysis of the past, present, and future of nationalism and its significance in contemporary politics.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Total private study hours: 128
Total module study hours: 150


All BA programmes in Politics and IR

Method of assessment

Weekly quizzes – 50%
Examination (2 hrs) – 50%

Reassessment methods: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Reading list (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)

Anderson, Benedict. 1991. Imagined Communities – Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism. 2nd ed. London: Verso

Coakley, John. 2012. Nationalism, Ethnicity, and the State – Making and Breaking Nations. London: Sage

Greenfeld, Liah. 1992. Nationalism – Five Roads to Modernity. Cambridge, Ma, USA: Harvard University Press

Smith, Anthony. 2010. Nationalism. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Polity

Wimmer, Andreas. 2018. Nation Building – Why Some Countries Come Together While Others Fall Apart. Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Understand the nature of nationalism as a political phenomenon

8.2 Understand how nationalism has been studied in comparative politics, international relations, and political thought

8.3 Assess the competing theories that seek to account for the emergence and endurance of nationalism

8.4 Understand the process of emergence and diffusion of the nation-state

8.5 Understand the interaction between state and regional nationalism

8.6 Identify some of the main consequences of nationalism for politics

8.7 Appreciate some of the normative questions raised by nationalism


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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