Nationalism: concepts, theories, values

Course Description: 

This course offers a very short introduction to the study of nationalism. In the first week we’ll analyse basic concepts of the nation and typologies of nationalism, placing them in historical context. In the second week we’ll discuss theories that seek to explain nationalism’s origins and its effects on human life. In third and final week, we’ll deploy these conceptual and theoretical tools to examine the nature and appeal of national values today, especially in democracies. The last session will discuss two of the main practical challenges posed by nationalist politics: how to address rival claims to self-determination, and how to deal with large-scale migration.  

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students will have acquired


  • Basic conceptual tools for approaching the study of nationalism 
  • A general knowledge of the main explanatory and normative theories of nationalism
  • An ability to critically discuss the academic literature 

Participation: 34%

Presentations: 33%

Paper: 33%


Participation: Active participation means:


(1)   Attendance. This is an intensive course, with only 6 sessions held in a 3-week period. It is therefore essential that students attend all classes. Except in cases where permission has been granted in advance, absences from any class or parts of a class will result in a lower final mark.

(2)    Discussion and presence. Thoughtful contributions to class discussions will be noted. Attentive listening and constructive engagement with other students’ points will also gain credit.


Forewarning/Achtung: In a course based on intensive, active discussion, laptops and other personal devices aren’t always strictly necessary. The instructor may sometimes ask students to put them away for the sake of improved (one hopes) social interaction.


Presentations. Apart from the first introductory session, classes will be based on student presentations and seminar-style discussions. Each student will be expected to give at least one short (10-15 min) presentation addressing one of the topics listed in the course schedule. Presentations should provide a summary and critical review of one or two of the listed readings. Presenters may also address one or more of the discussion questions on the schedule.


Paper. A final paper (minimum 2500 words, with full bibliography) will be due at 5 pm on 17 October. For their topic, students should choose one or two of the questions from the syllabus and address it/them, drawing on any of the course readings. Papers may critically discuss one or two readings in detail, OR develop a more wide-ranging answer to the chosen question with reference to a number of readings. Students should chose a different topic for the paper than their presentation topic, although some overlap is acceptable; if in doubt about the degree of overlap, please ask the instructor.

Assessment will be based on:

(1)   Clarity of expression and structure

(2)   Balance and strength of arguments

(3)   Independence of thought

(4)   Timely submission: late papers will receive lower marks

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