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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SLSP1211 Formations of Modernity/Coloniality

20 creditsClass Size: 210

Module manager: Dr Hizer Mir

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

This module is mutually exclusive with

SLSP1210Formations of Modernity

Module replaces

SLSP1210 Formations of Modernity

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

How did we get here? This is one of the most common questions that social sciences and humanities attempt to answer. How can we explain the emergence of this present rather than some other? Answers have tended to look at why Europe became modern, and how we should understand this modernity. The answers found in various ways throughout the discipline tended to treat the understanding of modernity in isolation from processes in the rest of the world. In 1946 when sociology was set-up at the University of Leeds ( the division between what was modern and what was not was clear. It overlapped with what was assumed to be characteristic of Europeaness or Whiteness or Western. It was contrasted with what was considered non-modern (traditional), which coincided with what was thought of as being non-European, non-White, or non-Western. Sociology, since its formal establishment as an academic discipline (1892 in the University of Chicago, 1895 in the University of Bordeaux, 1902 in the London School of Economics), has tended to see the role of colonialism in making both the West and the Rest as of being marginal interest and importance to its remit of understanding modern societies.


By exploring key themes and classic and contemporary debates in the history of sociology and of societies, on completing the module students will be better able to:
- Demonstrate their understanding of the main theoretical perspectives relating to the historical transition of societies
- Contribute to informed debate in relation to issues surrounding key transitions in the shape of societies over time;
- Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the various theories and perspectives on these issues

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module students should have provided evidence of being able to:

- demonstrate a familiarity with the basic concepts, historical information, and practical competencies and research techniques to develop a sociological understanding of modern societies;
- utilise expertise on the formations of modernity and coloniality to assess with cultural and ethical sensitivity the social implications of modernising societies;
- demonstrate an ability to evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches within the sociological study of modernity and coloniality, with specific regard to assessing the strengths and weaknesses of competing narratives concerning the formation of modernity and coloniality;
- be able to assess their own competencies as independent learners and to develop self-awareness about the legitimacy of their own views about the formation of modernising societies across history to the present day;
- be introduced to the potential of decolonial literature and approaches for theorising social phenomena;
- be introduced to the challenge of Eurocentrism for the sociological imagination.


This module critical engages with what hitherto may have been marginal to understanding modern societies by reflecting on the process of decolonisation as it has shaped contemporary social relations. Decolonial thinking sees the process of decolonisation not only in terms of economic, social and political changes but also involving a shift in the way we are thinking about our understanding of the world. Decoloniality is based on a series of arguments that modernity and coloniality are part of the same global process, and therefore need to be understood in conjunction. This module will think through some of how the couplet modernity/coloniality have intersected to create the contemporary world we all inhabit. It will look at the debates that sought to explain the West's rise and the relationship between knowledge production and the exercise of social power. It will examine the many ways by which modernity/coloniality have produced different societies. It will ask what intellectual tools we have and what tools we need to understand the social world. The module broadens the range of examples by which we can analyse contemporary social relations, and in the process make sociology less Eurocentric, by studying thinkers and situations not only from the Global North but also from the Global South.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours171.00
Total Contact hours29.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

109 hours preparation for lectures and tutorials
62 hours preparation for assessment

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Contribution at tutorials

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2,000 word 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: 13/09/2021


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