Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module COMB1041: Decolonising Knowledge and Power

Department: Combined Honours in Social Sciences

COMB1041: Decolonising Knowledge and Power

Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap 30 Location Durham


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Excluded Combination of Modules

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  • To introduce students to concepts and case studies related to colonisation and decolonisation, with specific focus on the themes of knowledge and power.
  • To introduce students to research methods and design from a decolonisation perspective.
  • To promote the value of a multidisciplinary and intersectional perspective.
  • To evaluate and explore the intellectual underpinnings of decolonisation.
  • To give an insight into how decolonising knowledge and power pertains to justice and freedoms.


  • An introduction to colonialism, postcolonialism and decolonisation
  • Other concepts explored may include power, knowledge, race, justice, gender, class, religion/faith, and intersectionality.
  • What it means to decolonise knowledge and research.
  • Topics/case studies may change from year to year, but indicative content is likely to include some of the following: empire, health, wellness and wellbeing, violence, environment, climate change, literature, indigeneity, food, and music.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the main concepts in decolonisation.
  • Demonstrate awareness of how a decolonising perspective can help in the understanding of one or more topics/case studies.
  • Show a knowledge of how decolonising knowledge and power can influence research design and methods.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Show evidence of reading and understanding of key texts that address practical and theoretical issues relating to decolonisation.
  • Show the ability to evaluate the intellectual underpinnings of decolonisation and how different concepts may interact.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the connection between decolonisation and research design.
Key Skills:
  • Show the ability to retrieve resources and use them confidently and competently.
  • Show the ability to evaluate and synthesise information from a variety of sources (e.g. written and verbal).
  • Show the ability to synthesise knowledge and perspectives from different disciplines.
  • Show effective communication of knowledge and research.
  • Show the ability to construct and present reasoned arguments.
  • Show the ability to present complex ideas in multiple forms.
  • Show independent thought in analysing and critiquing existing scholarship on the subject area and in evaluating its contribution informed by academic debate.
  • Show flexibility in applying knowledge to new areas and problems.
  • Show the ability to work independently and reflect critically on their own work.
  • Show the ability to work to a deadline.

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

  • Workshops will explore introductory material on the main concepts and specified topics.
  • Formative assessment will be via comments on submitted materials and feedback in workshops.
  • Summative assessment will comprise a portfolio of materials exploring concepts and topics relating to the module:
  • (1) For the first summative assessment component (40%), each student will be expected to submit a total of 5 portfolio entries at regular intervals across the duration of the module. If all are submitted according to the guidelines provided in the handbook the student will gain 100% for this component and pass the module. Students will receive structured written feedback on all portfolio entries submitted.
  • (2) For the second summative assessment component (60%), each student will be asked to write a reflection essay commenting on the 5 portfolio entries.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops 20 Weekly 2 hours 40
Preparation and Reading (including any flipped activities) 160

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Portfolio entries 5 entries 100% Yes
Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Reflective Account 1,500 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

A 500 word reflective account commenting on at least two of the portfolio entries will be due at the end of Michaelmas. Written formative feedback on the portfolio items will be provided at the beginning of Epiphany term.

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