Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module ANTH30F7: Power and Governance

Department: Anthropology

ANTH30F7: Power and Governance

Type Open Level 3 Credits 10 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • ANTH2051 Politics and Economics OR ANTH2161 Kinship and Religion


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide students with an advanced understanding of the history and development of anthropological studies of politics.
  • To provide students with the space to critically review and understand theories of power and governance.
  • To provide students with an anthropological understanding of the social and political mechanisms which generate and sustain nations and ethnicities.
  • To introduce students to critical approaches to political phenomena such as colonialism, globalisation and terrorism, the global asymmetrical power relations between nations, issues related to migration, biopolitics and states of exception.


  • Political anthropology, history and the study of political systems.
  • The influence of the Enlightenment on the discipline and on the formation of modern political concepts. State and ‘stateless societies’, nationalism and ethnicity.
  • Power, Governance, Hegemony, Violence and Legitimacy.
  • Colonialism, Orientalism and neo-colonial relations.
  • Terrorism and security
  • Migration

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Demonstrate an advanced anthropological understanding of concepts such as power, governance, biopolitics, hegemony, modernity.
  • Demonstrate an advanced anthropological understanding of political systems per se, of the foundations of researching and classifying political systems and of the relationship between historical phenomena in Europe and political developments around the world.
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of a broad range of social science research that contributes to the understanding of politics.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with relevant ethnographic research from one or more regions of the world that provides useful illustrative material to apply to the understanding of more general theory.
  • Demonstrate advanced levels of current knowledge and intensive understanding of political anthropology, and to deploy relevant analytical skills.
  • Be competent in accessing and assimilating specialised research literature of an advanced nature.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Critically and comparatively analyse and evaluate anthropological literature on politics through the selection and application of appropriate explanatory theory.
  • Apply subject related knowledge from the course to the evaluation of current local and world affairs
  • Develop the ability to pursue independent research in anthropology and related fields
Key Skills:
  • Communicate complex abstract ideas through written work.
  • Show initiative to independently find resources on their chosen assessment topics to independently apply to the evaluation of theory.
  • Preparation and effective communication of research methods, data, interpretation and arguments in written form.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures will provide students with an outline of key knowledge and debates in the topic area, discuss the literature that students should explore, and provide relevant examples and cases studies.
  • Seminars will develop topics introduced in lectures and required reading to analyse aspects or case studies in greater depth and to prepare students for their summative assignment.
  • Student preparation and reading time will allow engagement with specific references in advance of seminars and general and particular reading related to the assessment, which will be a written assignment (such as an essay or report).

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 Weekly 1 10
Seminars 5 Specified in module handbook 1 5
Preparation and Reading 85
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assignment 2500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Extended essay plan or 500 word written assignment to prepare for the essay.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University