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Nation and Nationalism in World Politics


Admission requirements

The prerequisite is a 100-level course in World Politics or Human Interaction (history course). This course grants access to 300-level courses in World Politics and Human Interaction.


Nation and Nationalism builds on the introductory courses offered in the first year. Students who have background in Political Science and History might be able to benefit from some of their past knowledge initially, but there is no formal prerequisite for the course.

Nation and Nationalism starts with systems of political organisation before the advent of nationalism. This is followed by the emergence of the idea of popular legitimacy empowering the ‘people’ that was put into political practice with the French Revolution, and the subsequent impact this has had on world politics as the ‘people’ became the ‘nation’. The ideology that the ‘nation’ and ‘state’ should be congruent, i.e. nationalism, has since changed the political landscape of the world. During the 19th century, nationalism and popular democracy were inseparable in opposing the old order of royal and religious legitomacy (i.e. ‘let the people decide’), but the idea of nationalism later spawned violence and wars as well.

When the nation has been smaller than the state (the Habsburg and Ottoman multination empires), nationalism has led to new smaller nation-states, when the nation has been bigger than the state (German and Italian nations divided into various states), nationalism has created new bigger nation-states. Many current conflicts around the world reflect the enduring impact of nationalism.

The course examines deviations from the Westphalian nation-state ideal including multination states (e.g. Belgium, Canada), nations that span across various states (e.g. Albanians across Albania proper, Kosova, and Macedonia), stateless nations (e.g. Kurds spread across Turkey, Iran and Iraq), minority nations (Quebec, Catalonia), and the accompanying potential lines of conflict.

Course objectives

Nation and Nationalism aims to provide a general introduction to these twin concepts. Students will be given an overall survey of the origins of these ideas, the political consequences on world politics, and their continuing relevance. Such historical and theoretical knowledge will culminate in a deeper and nuanced understanding of the idea of nation and the ideology of nationalism. In due course, students will acquire the skills to unpack and decode some of the current pressing issues in the world ranging from Flemish nationalism to the Arab spring. In parallel, class discussions and written assignments will contribute to oral and written expression skills.


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Mode of instruction

Following two weeks of lectures providing general introduction, the course will be divided into lectures and class discussions on the topics and reading assignments. There will be an in-class examination at the end of the 7th week, and a final paper due the end of the 8th week.

Assessment method

  1. Interactive engagement with course material: assessed through In-class participation (30% of final grade): Ongoing Weeks 1 – 7
  2. Understanding of course content: assessed through in-class 2 hour exam (30% of final grade): week 7 (23 March)
  3. Expression of holistic understanding of the course: assessed in final research essay
    (3,000 words; 40% of final grade): Week 8 (30 March, 17:00)


This course is supported by a blackboard site.

Reading list

Required readings will be made available electronically.


This course is only open for LUC The Hague students.

Contact information

Weekly Overview

Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Empire, State, City
Week 3: Popular Sovereignty: People and the Nation
Week 4: Nationalism
Week 5: Multination Empires and the Nation
Week 6: Nations Divided Between States
Week 7: Stateless Nations, Minority Nations
Week 8: Reading Week