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Elective: Social struggles: global histories of capital, labour and society


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.
The number of participants is limited to 25.


This course addresses the complex historical relationship between labour and capital within societies in different parts of the world. Case studies will not be confined to any particular geographical area. In adopting a “global” approach, the aim is to focus equal attention on the rich part of the world (the so-called “global North”) and the rest of the world (the so-called “global-South”).
A range of topics will be covered in seeking to better appreciate modern-day global capitalism as part of a historical process. These topics will include: the different modes of pre-capitalist production, the capitalist “revolution”, the historical development of the free market, the various ways in which human labour is exploited and optimized/rewarded, social movements and repressions, precarisation of labour and life in the modern world, etc.
The work and perspectives of prominent philosophers, economists, and historians will be examined, such as: Karl Marx’s materialist view of history, Fernand Braudel’s rupture with traditional historiography and the new vision of economic history that arose from this rift; Immanuel Wallerstein’s world-theory historical approach; Samir Amin’s historical global materialism; to mention but a few.
Students will be required to write their papers on issues such as: labour struggles; anti-imperialism; revolutions; nationalism and internationalism; racism and liberal multiculturalism; feminism; youth rebellions; family and LGBT; fundamentalisms; policing and criminalization; human rights; environmentalism; anarchism; technology; armed/guerrillas/terrorism; neoliberalism and neo-conservativism. Students will be asked to place case studies related to these issues into broader debates between historical, economic and political theories.

Additionally, the students will work through W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.
Academic skills that the course aims to enhance include:
Oral presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course:
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in accordance with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using up-to-date presentation techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience;
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.
Collaboration skills:
1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. to respect agreed schedules and priorities.
Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.
Written presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured written presentation;
b. in accordance with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using relevant illustrations or multimedia techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

Seminar and supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 24 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 96 hours

  • Completion of short assignments: 48 hours

  • Researching and writing final paper: 112 hours

Assessment method

Assessment and weighing

Attendance 20%
Active participation in class 20%
Oral presentation 20%
Final paper 40%

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following: the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.

To pass the course, the weighted average has to be 5.5 at least.


In case of resubmission of the final essay (insufficient grade only) the final grade for the essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion. The deadline for resubmission is 10 days after receiving the grade for the final essay.


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

A reader will be made available in PDF and students will be able to download it from Blackboard.
W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, and J.M. Williams, The Craft of Research, The University of Chicago Press, London & Chicago, 2008.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Dr. S. Bellucci


The deadline for submission of the final essay is 9 June 2017.

Bar exceptional circumstances to be discussed with the tutors, 80% attendance is required to complete the course.

Passing this course is an entry requirement for the thesis and thesis seminar, elective year 3, and Practising Internatonal Studies.