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Elective: Nations and Nationalism


Admission requirements

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


This course provides an overview of theories and approaches to the study of nationalism. Before outlining the historical development of thought on the nation, it questions whether national identities are based on primordial concepts of collective solidarity or whether national identities are constructed. It explores the connections between nationalism, militarism and war, and discusses the significance of neo-nationalist and anti-immigrant groups in Europe and beyond. It also focuses, however, on forms of nationalism that more subtlety structure mainstream thinking on the nation. The course finishes with an assessment of latent nationalisms in modern developed states.

In addition to their readings on nationalism, 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 are trained 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 agreement 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. adhere to 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 oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using relevant illustration 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

Students determine the amount of time they spend on assignments and reading themselves. There are 2 lessons per week for 12 weeks for a total of 24 hours.

Assessment method

Assessment and weighing

  • In class tests and participation 20%

  • Presentation 20%

  • Review of relevant literature and determination of research question, 1000 (+/- 100) words excluding footnotes and bibliography, 20%

  • Essay, 5000 (+/- 250) words excluding footnotes and bibliography, 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

The required texts for this course are as follows. You are strongly encouraged to buy both.

  • Spencer, Philip, and Howard Wollman. Nationalism: a critical introduction. London: Sage Publishers, 2002.

  • Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2008.
    There will also be reading, some required, some optional, from the following texts. You will have access to these texts at the Library Learning Center on the campus in The Hague.

  • Özkirimli, Umut. Theories of Nationalism: a critical introduction. 2nd edition. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010.

  • Hutchinson, John, and Anthony D. Smith. Nationalism: a reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.
    There are also journal articles included in the required and optional readings. These will be available through the university library database system. For example, the required reading for the first lesson is:

  • Pillar, Paul R. “The Age of Nationalism.” National Interest, no. 127 (September/October 2013): 9-19.
    This article for the first lecture will be placed on blackboard. Students must download all subsequent electronic article readings for themselves from the university library databases.


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. B.A. Wakefield


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

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

Dr. Wakefield will be available for consultation throughout the semester, but only in his office in Leiden, and only by appointment.