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SO351 - Politics of Asylum

  • Module code: SO351
  • Module name: Politics of Asylum
  • Department: Sociology
  • Credit: 15

Content and teaching | Assessment | Availability

Module content and teaching

Principal aims

This module focuses on disentangling various aspects of the politics of asylum in the ‘West’. We will look at who asylum seekers are, where they come from, where they go to, and what their rights are in international law. We will discuss the origins of the right to asylum and the development of exclusionary regimes both nationally and at the regional level in the case of the EU. Key contemporary issues will be focussed on in depth including the welfare and work rights of asylum seekers, the detention of asylum seekers, and borderzones such as the Mediterranean and Calais.

Principal learning outcomes

The module will combine both theoretical discussion of the normative rights and principles which are of relevance to the right to asylum, such as the principle of universal humanity and recourse to cosmopolitan rights. At the same time, this is a subject which is rooted in the lived reality of the contested politics of mobility in the contemporary period and as such we will draw on empirical examples from around the world. This module will provide you with a clear understanding of the key concepts and debates on the politics of asylum. You will be encouraged to use the theories and examples discussed in class to analyse contexts and issues that interest them in the essay assignments.

Timetabled teaching activities

9 weekly two-hour seminars in weeks 1-5 and 7-10

Departmental link

Module assessment

Assessment group Assessment name Percentage
15 CATS (Module code: SO351-15)
A (Assessed work only) 3000 word essay 100%

Module availability

This module is available on the following courses:



Optional Core


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