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Politics of Migration - POL00087M

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Simon Parker
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

The module aims to provide an advanced understanding of the history and development of migration as an object of policy and as a site of political contestation, drawing predominantly on the experience of the United Kingdom and the European Union, but including international migration within and between the Global North and Global South.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

The module will examine the role of state actors in the establishment of borders, border management, immigration control and the suppression of irregular migration. Students will develop skills in critical analysis and research, and will become familiar with the key literature in the field of migration policy and human rights. Students will also develop the ability to transfer knowledge gained from theoretical enquiry to more policy and practice-oriented research and employment.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

In the first part of the term lectures and seminars will concentrate on the experience of and political reaction to the presence of regular and irregular migrants in the United Kingdom. Topics will include the following: (i) the political causes and consequences of ‘alien’ migration into the UK (1880-1945);(ii) Generation Windrush and ‘managed migration’ from the New Commonwealth in post-war Britain; (iii) ‘Rivers of Blood’ - political opposition to migration, the 1971 immigration act and the limits of nationality. In the second part we explore the international context of forced and regular migration (iv) The 1951 Refugee Convention and the evolution of humanitarian protection in international relations and international law; (v) Post-colonialism and race in immigration policy – the European, US and Australian experience (vi) ‘Economic migrants’ versus ‘refugees’ – examining the role of conflict, violence and poverty in the context of global forced displacement (vii) A Sea of Humanity? The European Union, the Mediterranean Migration Crisis and the Building of Fortress Europe.

Academic and graduate skills

Module participants will be required to research and analyse original historical documents and legislation, treaties, case law and political speeches as well as relevant press and media primary sources. Students will be expected to develop an advanced knowledge of the key current literature in migration politics/border studies. There will also be group work activities that will require the use and sharing of digital resources for the purpose of presentations and collaboration supported by the tutor via the VLE platform. Students will thereby develop key research skills in the social sciences and humanities and valuable policy analysis skills and expertise for a range of graduate level careers.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Daniel Trilling, Lights in the distance: exile and refuge at the borders of Europe, Picador, London, 2018.

Alexander Betts and Paul Collier, Refuge: transforming a broken refugee system, Allen Lane, London, 2017.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.