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SO337-15 Racism and Xenophobia

Undergraduate Level 3
Module leader
Hannah Jones
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This is not a module which is about deciding whether something-or-other is ‘racist’ or ‘not-racist’. It is about helping you think through social and historical processes that have created structures of racialised inequality, and to think about how these inequalities are manifested today in our everyday lives.

With increasing numbers of people crossing international borders, and increasing hostility to migrants and migration around the world, the module relates understandings of racism and racialised power relations to new and emerging forms of xenophobia in individual lives, institutions, and government policy and practice.

The module is designed to help you to think through the connections between racism and xenophobia, and their links to other social divisions – such as those of class, gender and sexuality.

The module will help you to question and test traditional forms of academic knowledge – but this doesn’t mean rejecting ‘difficult’ theory; in the Racism and Xenophobia module, we will engage with social theory but relate this directly to empirical, real-life examples, and we will read the work of women and people of colour who are not always included in the traditional sociological cannon.

We will work with a unique collection of original documents about Britain’s colonial histories, and the treatment of migrants to Britain in the mid-twentieth century, using our access to the resources of Warwick’s Modern Records Centre archives.

By the end of the module, we will come right up to the present day, looking at the convenors' recent research on UK government campaigns about immigration control and how this relates to new and old processes of racialisation and racism, and on how migrants from Central-Eastern Europe experience ‘race’ in Britain, including in the context of Brexit.

Throughout the module, there will be an emphasis on thinking intersectionally about how different kinds of social inequality interact – including, for example, case studies of how patriarchy interacts with white supremacy to produce and reproduce oppressions. We will read authors such as Stuart Hall, Audre Lorde, Ann Laura Stoler, Sara Ahmed, Bridget Anderson, Les Back, and Paul Gilroy.

You will be encouraged to think each week about how experiences in your everyday life, and in current affairs and the news, relate to the concepts and examples we are discussing.

This module will help you to develop a conceptual understanding of racism and xenophobia as grounded in empirical, historical and social processes. The module will encourage you to trace the connections and disjunctures between historical instances of empire and colonialism, and twenty-first century experiences of racism and xenophobia.

What this module is not: This module is not about deciding whether particular people, things, or attitudes are “racist” or “not-racist”. It is about understanding the structures of power and their relationships to individual experiences and attitudes, which constitute racism and xenophobia.

Being respectful: The module focuses on socio-historical ideas and analysis, and relates these to present-day examples. Some discussions may bring up strong feelings or experiences from students’ own lives. We encourage open and critical discussion in seminars and lectures, but please be respectful of one another. If you feel particularly disturbed by anything in the module, you are welcome to talk to the module convenor or seminar tutor about this.

Module web page

Module aims

To develop a critical understanding of racism and xenophobia as sociological and historical processes.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

  1. Racism and xenophobia, 'race' and migration
  2. The structural and the personal
  3. Race, class, gender: thinking intersectionally
  4. Colonial histories: forgotten memories?
  5. Working with the archives: Part 1
  6. Working with the archives: Part 2
  7. Belonging and backlash
  8. Convivial multiculture, superdiversity, and inequality
  9. 'Eastern European migrants' and race: new solidarities, new hostilities?
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of concepts, theories arm processes of racism and xenophobia
  • Demonstrate a critical analysis of relationships between racism and xenophobia and other relations of power (e.g. class, gender, sexuality)
  • Demonstrate an ability to relate current social divisions to longer histories of power, domination and struggle
  • Demonstrate an ability to identify relationships between social divisions at local, national and transnational scales
Indicative reading list

Anderson, B (2013) Us and Them? The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Control, Oxford: OUP. [or at least the Introduction pp1-11].
Anderson, D (2005) “Prologue: The Hanged” in Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire, New York: Norton, pp. 1-8.
Back, L (2002) “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? The Political Morality of Investigating Whiteness in the Gray Zone” in V Ware and L Back, Out of Whiteness: Color, Politics and Culture, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp.33-59.
Back, Les. 2011. Trust Your Senses? War, Memory, and the Racist Nervous System. The Senses and Society, 6(3), pp. 306-324
Back, L and S Sinha with C Bryan (2012) “New hierarchies of belonging”, European Journal of Cultural Studies, 15(2): 139-154.
Back, L and J Solomos (2009) “Introduction: Theories of Race and Racism: Genesis, Development and Contemporary Trends”, in L Back and J Solomos (eds) Theories of Race And Racism: A Reader, Routledge: London and New York, pp 1-30.
De Noronha, L (2019) 'Deportation, racism and multi-status Britain: immigration control and the production of race in the present, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 42:14, 2413-2430.
Drnovšek Zorko, Š. (2019) “Articulations of race and genealogies of encounter among former Yugoslav migrants in Britain,” Ethnic and Racial Studies 42(9):1574-1591.
Evans, S (2013) “'…the irreducible things that happened': sociology in the archives”, Social Science Blog, British Library
Goldberg, D T (2009) The Threat of Race, Oxford: Blackwell. [Chapter 1: ‘Buried, Alive’]
Hall, S (2000) “Conclusion: The Multi-cultural Question”, in Hesse, B (ed) Un/settled Multiculturalisms: Diasporas, Entanglements, Transruptions. London and New York: Zed Books, pp. 209-241.
Khan, O and F Shaheen (eds) (2017) “Minority Report: Race and Class in Post-Brexit Britain”, London: Runnymede Trust. Introduction (pp. 4-6)
Lentin, A (2018) “Beyond denial: ‘not racism’ as racist violence”, Continuum, 32(4):400-414.
Lorde, A (1984) “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference”, in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde, New York: Ten Speed Press, pp.114-123.
Miles, R (1984) “Marxism Versus the ‘Sociology of Race Relations’?”, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 7(2):217-37.
Nash, J (2008) ‘re-thinking intersectionality’, Feminist Review, 89(1):1-15.
Nowicka, M. (2018) “‘I don’t mean to sound racist but …’ Transforming racism in transnational Europe”, Ethnic and Racial Studies 41(5):824-841.
Trouillot, M-R (1995) Silencing the Past: power and the production of history, Boston: Beacon Press. [or at least Chapter 1: “The Power in the Story” pp1-30]
Virdee, S, “Some Thoughts on the Theory, History and Politics of Race and Class, or Why Class Analysis Must Take Race Seriously” (pp. 14-16). (available at:

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Research element

Training in and use of archival materials.

Subject specific skills
  • a systematic understanding of sociological understanding of racism and xenophobia, including acquisition of coherent and detailed knowledge, at least some of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of the sociology of 'race' and migration
  • conceptual understanding that enables the student:
    *to devise and sustain arguments, and/or to solve problems, using ideas and techniques, some of which are
    at the forefront of sociology
    *to describe and comment upon particular aspects of current research in sociology
  • the ability to manage their own learning, and to make use of scholarly reviews and primary sources including refereed research articles, other scholarly works, and archival materials
Transferable skills
  • an ability to deploy accurately established techniques of analysis and enquiry within a discipline
  • an appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge
  • an ability to apply the methods and techniques that they have learned to review, consolidate, extend and apply their knowledge and understanding, and to initiate and carry out projects
  • an ability to critically evaluate arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data (that may be incomplete), to make judgements, and to frame appropriate questions to achieve a solution - or identify a range of solutions - to a problem
  • an ability to communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:
    *the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility
    *decision-making in complex and unpredictable contexts
    *the learning ability needed to undertake appropriate further training of a professional or equivalent nature.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 9 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Seminars 9 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Private study 132 hours (88%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

Reading and preparation for lectures and seminars
Group work on archival materials outside of class, in preparation for group presentation
Reading, preparing and writing formative work
Reading, preparing and writing summative work


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group A1
Weighting Study time
Assessed Essay 100%

A 3,000-word assessed essay.

Feedback on assessment

Written feedback will be provided on all assessments.


This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 3 of ULAA-ML33 Undergraduate Law and Sociology

This module is Optional for:

  • USOA-L301 BA in Sociology
    • Year 3 of L301 Sociology
    • Year 3 of L301 Sociology
    • Year 3 of L301 Sociology
    • Year 3 of L303 Sociology with Specialism in Gender Studies
  • Year 4 of USOA-L306 BA in Sociology (with Intercalated Year)
  • UHIA-VL16 Undergraduate History and Sociology (with Year Abroad and a term in Venice)
    • Year 3 of VL16 History and Sociology (with Year Abroad and a term in Venice)
    • Year 4 of VL16 History and Sociology (with Year Abroad and a term in Venice)
  • Year 3 of UHIA-VL15 Undergraduate History and Sociology (with a term in Venice)
  • Year 3 of USOA-L314 Undergraduate Sociology and Criminology

This module is Unusual option for:

  • UPHA-V7ML Undergraduate Philosophy, Politics and Economics
    • Year 3 of V7ML Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Tripartite)
    • Year 3 of V7ML Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Tripartite)
    • Year 3 of V7ML Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Tripartite)

This module is Option list A for:

  • ULAA-ML34 BA in Law and Sociology (Qualifying Degree)
    • Year 3 of ML34 Law and Sociology (Qualifying Degree)
    • Year 4 of ML34 Law and Sociology (Qualifying Degree)
  • Year 5 of ULAA-ML35 BA in Law and Sociology (Qualifying Degree) (with Intercalated year)
  • Year 3 of USOA-L301 BA in Sociology
  • Year 4 of ULAA-ML33 Undergraduate Law and Sociology

This module is Option list B for:

  • USOA-L301 BA in Sociology
    • Year 3 of L304 Sociology with Specialism in Research Methods
    • Year 3 of L302 Sociology with Specialism in Social Policy
  • Year 3 of UPOA-ML13 Undergraduate Politics and Sociology
  • Year 4 of UPOA-ML14 Undergraduate Politics and Sociology (with Intercalated year)

This module is Option list C for:

  • Year 3 of UHIA-VL13 Undergraduate History and Sociology
  • Year 4 of UHIA-VL14 Undergraduate History and Sociology (with Year Abroad)