Race and Racism - SO537

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 3)
Autumn 6 15 (7.5) PROF M Song checkmark-circle


What is meant by ‘racism’? Charges of racism are seemingly everywhere – in the workplace, in the streets, in everyday interactions. But what exactly is racism? Is it beliefs about racial inferiority or superiority? Is it found in actions and consequences whether people intended to be racist or not? We will first review various theories of racism, and critically assess how changing conceptualisations of racism arise in specific, socio-political contexts. We will also consider whether a colour-blind future is desirable and/or possible.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

22 hours: 1 hr lecture and 1 hr seminar per week.

Method of assessment

35% coursework (one 3000 word essay), 15% seminar participation and 50% 2-hour examination (summer term)

Indicative reading

Eds. Martin Bulmer & John Solomos, Racism (1999)
George Fredrickson, Racism: a Short history (2002)
Andrew Pilkington, Racial Disadvantage and Ethnic Diversity (2003)
John Solomos & Les Back, Racism and Society (1996)
Mairtin Mac an Ghaill, Contemporary Racisms and Ethnicities (1999)
Ali Rattansi, Racism: an Introduction (2008)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

- Clarify and debate the meanings surrounding the term 'racism'. 'Racism' has come to be used so broadly, so that it is in danger of becoming an inflated term. Students taking this module should be able to demonstrate their understanding of the historical evolution of this term, and the contemporary debates surrounding this term.
- Rethink and refine the traditional emphasis upon racism, as something which predominantly affects 'Black' people. Much recent work in this area has addressed the need to explore the potentially disparate experiences of racisms by various ethnic minority groups.
- Explore the comparative experiences of ethnic minorities, for example the ways in which they experience and respond to forms of racial discrimination and abuse in Western advanced capitalist societies.
- Assess the effectiveness of state policies to combat racism, for instance through ‘positive discrimination’ and EO policies.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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