Search type

School of Social Sciences

Student in a lecture
BSocSc Sociology
Learn to critically analyse and interpret societies and gain skills for a variety of careers.

BSocSc Sociology

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Post-Colonial Theory & Methods

Unit code SOCY30112
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Sociology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Postcolonial Theory and Methods in the Social Sciences, is focused on developing students’ ability to engage with a range of exciting approaches that shaped postcolonial thinking and practice. This course is concerned with ‘a sociology of philosophy’ perspective that illustrates the key insights and contributions of postcolonial theory across the social sciences. The course explores the different concepts proposed by different fields of postcolonial theory in order to better understand both contemporary and historical social processes - ranging from a critical understanding of the broader historical sweep of capitalism to the particularities of contemporary migration and European nationalisms.  


More broadly, the course interrogates postcolonial theory’s sustained critique of established European social science concepts and dispositions. In fact, the course specifically examines the way various concepts and methods ordinarily employed in the social sciences were and are central to the structural exploitation and/or marginalization of non-white people.  


The unit aims to:

  • Examine the ways in which postcolonial thought shapes thinking and research in the social sciences
  • Provide a conceptual understanding of postcolonial theories
  • Prepare students with a set of methodological tools for ongoing/future research projects
  • Examine the way in which postcolonial thought is drawn upon in response to contemporary political, social, and cultural questions 

Learning outcomes

Students should be able to


Knowledge and Understanding:


·         Understand how different approaches to postcolonial inquiry orient the nature and scope of the social sciences

·         Develop conceptual understandings of key theoretical postcolonial perspectives and positions


Intellectual skills: 


  • Consider ontological and epistemological postcolonial questions
  • Understand the conditions under which knowledge claims are made and valued in the social sciences




Practical skills:


·         Develop postcolonial methodological tools for ongoing and future research projects

·         Critically assess their own presuppositions, be open to the perspectives of others, and investigate multiple analytical approaches


Transferable skills and personal qualities:  


·         Develop a conceptual and practical set of skills enabling intellectual growth

·         Develop strong interpersonal and communication skills through the exchange of ideas and concepts encouraged through informal presentations in the classroom forums


Postcolonial Theory and Methods in the Social Sciences, is focused on developing students’ ability to engage with a range of exciting and multifaceted approaches that have come to shape postcolonial thinking and practice. This course is concerned with ‘a sociology of philosophy’ perspective that illustrates the key insights and contributions of postcolonial theory and methods across the social sciences. The course is centred upon critical thinking and interdisciplinary scholarship as a means to interrogate the complex relationship between the social sciences and the experiences of racialised peoples. That is, it puts into serious question the ‘study’ of ethnic minority communities and the problems such ‘studying’ entails in conventional sociological analyses.


Through research-led teaching, students will explore different perspectives that seek to challenge reductive approaches in understandings of the ‘other’. By introducing students to postcolonial theory and contemporary political, social, and cultural questions, this course opens the space for alternative theoretical and practical tools to be drawn upon for their future research projects. The course will cover areas around the politics of inclusion/exclusion; power/knowledge; Global North/Global South, representation/meaning, essentialism/Anti-essentialism, and specifically will engage with topics including, racism and European colonialism; ‘Otherness’; Eurocentrism and critical race; postcolonial feminism; postcolonial methodology; Islamophobia and the war on terror; Diaspora and migration; inter-ethnic relations and difference; post-racial imaginaries; and decoloniality. Fundamentally this course will examine the various ways in which postcolonial thinking contributes to instituting radically different types of social horizons and histories.

Teaching and learning methods

The unit will be delivered through weekly 3-hour workshops, which will include: lectures, group work, watching films, workshop tasks, presentations, and set readings.


Students will be encouraged to use Blackboard as an integral tool to share relevant course materials, resources, and information. To enhance the exchange of ideas, students will be required to participate within individual presentations as well as group dialogue to develop interpersonal and communication skills. To represent concepts and ideas, as well as facilitate a collaborative learning environment in an exciting and innovative way, the unit will engage closely with a range of cultural materials including, media items, music, art, and documentaries. Additionally students will be required to write short pieces for online social media platforms (e.g. blogs, Twitter, Facebook) to exchange knowledge, circulate ideas, and develop important writing skills for a range of diverse audiences. 

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%

Feedback methods

Informal feedback will be given during lecture. In addition formal feedback will be given on the assessed essay.

Recommended reading

Said, E. (1978) Orientalism, London: Penguin Books (Introduction and Chapter 1)

Hall, S. (1992) ‘The West and the Rest: Discourse and Power’, in Hall, S and Gieben, B.

(eds) Formations of Modernity, London: Polity Press, pp. 275-320

Loomba, A. (1998) Colonialism/Postcolonialism, London: Routledge

Fanon, F. (1967) The Wrteched of the Earth, London: Penguin (Chapter 1)

Ali, N., Kalra, V., and Sayyid, S., eds. (2006) A Postcolonial People: South Asians in Britain,

London: Hurst and Company (Introduction and Chapter 1)

Sian, K. (2014) Conversations in Postcolonial Thought, London: Palgrave

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 30
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Katy Sian Unit coordinator

Additional notes

2015/16 timetable

Thursday 14:00 - 17:00

Return to course details