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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PIED3171 The Politics of national identity in the UK

20 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Dr Richard Hayton

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module explores the politics of national identity in the United Kingdom. In so doing it encourages students to think theoretically and critically about how questions of national identity interact with other issues of governance, party politics and public policy. In part the module does this through an interrogation of constitutional debates about the future of the United Kingdom, notably the relationship between the constituent nations within it but also important questions of regional identity and governance. The module then explores two vital aspects of national identity which are often overlooked by political scientists. These are firstly, the cultural dimension (for example in relation to sport, music and literature); and secondly the party political dimension, namely how the politics of national identity impacts upon political ideologies and party strategies, and also the politics of issues such as immigration. Finally the module asks whether, in the light of this rich investigation, the United Kingdom has a future and how the politics of identity will play out over the coming decade.


To introduce students to the politics of national identity debate in the context of contemporary developments in British politics.
To explore in depth key aspects of this debate, for example in relation to party politics.
To apply and critically engage with relevant theoretical perspectives
To enable students to develop an ability to critically engage with complex ideas through reading and analysing both primary texts and secondary sources.
To challenge students to develop a more critical view of both existing constitutional and governance arrangements and their alternatives.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the politics of identity in the United Kingdom;
- demonstrate a critical understanding of relevant theoretical literature, and relate theoretical work to empirical examples effectively;
- demonstrate an ability to critically analyse developments in contemporary British politics in relation to the national identity debate.
On completion of this module students should also have developed :
- The ability to produce a reasoned argument and synthesise relevant information and use communication and information technologies to retrieve and present information.
- Their ability to research, assess and organise relevant information.
- Exercise critical judgement, and manage and self-critically reflect on, their own learning and make use of constructive feedback.
- Be able to communicate effectively and fluently in spoken and written English.


1. Theory: the nation as an imagined community
2. Context: the evolution of the Union state
3. Celtic nationalism and the fracturing of the UK
4. The Politics of Englishness
5. Governance and identity in England: the case of ‘the North’
6. National identity and culture
7. Sport and the politics of national identity
8-10. The party politics of identity:
i) Labour, the Left and Britishness
ii) The Conservative Party and national identity
iii) The party politics of identity: the rise of UKIP
11. Identity and the future of the UK – the death of Britishness?

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students are asked to read key articles and chapters listed in the module reading list in preparation for seminar discussions and their essays.

Students will be provided with lecture notes in the form of power point slides in advance of lectures, and will also be provided with seminar preparation questions to guide their reading.
Students will have the opportunity to receive feedback on an essay plan and discuss this with their seminar tutor in preparation for written assessments

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

This module uses both formative and summative assessment.
Formative assessment (which is voluntary and does not count towards the final grade):
Student contributions to class discussion.
Tutor-led peer discussion in seminars.
Opportunities for individual discussions outside seminar times.
Opportunity to submit a short essay plan or sample and to receive written/verbal feedback and guidance.
Summative assessment:
A single 4000 word essay submitted at the end of the module.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 4000 End of Term Essay100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:29:44


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