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Thematic Seminar: Race in World Politics


Admission requirements

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


In 1900, the African American Scholar WEB Du Bois stated that the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the colour line.’ In other words, Du Bois argued that ‘race’ was the dominant ordering mechanism of world politics. This course will explore how ‘race’ and empire have constituted – and continue to make – the world we live in. We will consider how racial thinking has developed in the past two centuries, and investigate the blunt and subtle ways in which it continues to inform the discourses and policies on issues ranging from Nuclear Weapons to Brexit. Through the writings of key thinkers such as Du Bois, Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Angela Davis, and bell hooks, we will examine the debates on intersectionality between race, gender and class.

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 Thematic Seminars 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 multidisciplinary 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 and 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:

  • in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;

  • in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;

  • using up-to-date presentation techniques;

  • using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;

  • 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 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.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction


Seminars are held every week, with the exception of the Midterm Exam week. This includes supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 10 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), which equals 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Attending seminars (2 hours per week x 12): 24 hours

  • Studying the compulsory literature and class preparation: 120 hours

  • Preparing for presentations: 16 hours

  • Researching and writing the Final Research Essay, and all other writing: 120 hours

Assessment method

Assessment and Weighing

Partial grade Weighing
Individual Presentation 10%
Critical Review 15%
Weekly Summaries 25%
Final Research Essay (5,000 words) 50%

End Grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note that the End Grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of all assessment components.


Students who have been active participants in class and submitted the Final Essay on time, but scored an overall insufficient mark, are entitled to a resit. For the resit, students are given a chance to hand in a new version of the Final Essay.
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 working days after receiving the grade for the Final Essay.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2018 – 2019.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.


Blackboard will be used for the seminars. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

  • Achebe, C. Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays (New York: Anchor Books, 1988)

  • Ambedkar, B.R. The Annhiliation of Caste: The Annonated Critical Edition (New Delhi: Navayana, 2015)

  • Césaire, A., Discourse on Colonialism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1955).

  • Davis, A., Women, Race and Class (New York: Vintage, 1983).

  • Du Bois, WEB, The Souls of Black Folk (New York: Bentham, 1903)

  • Fanon, F., Black Skins White Masks (New York: Grove Press, 2008).

  • Frantz, F., The Wretched of the Earth, (New York: Grove Press, 2004).

  • Hall, S. Familiar Stranger: A Life Between two Islands (Duke University Press, 2017)

  • Hochschild, A., King Leopold’s Ghost (New York: First Mariner Books, 1999).

  • hooks, bell. Ain’t I a woman? Black Women and Feminism (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1981).

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.


  • Enrolment through uSis for Thematic Seminars is mandatory.

  • The Thematic Seminars make use of a waiting list for the enrolment in uSis. If you are on the waiting list for a Thematic Seminar, this does not guarantee you a spot in this Seminar.

  • Enrolment in only one Seminar is allowed. Students are more than welcome to remain on one or more waiting lists, as well as an actual enrolment.

  • If a Thematic Seminar and its corresponding waiting list is no longer available for enrolment in uSis, this means it is full. Do not try to obtain a spot through other means.

  • If you are unsure of your enrolment status for a Thematic Seminar, please contact the BAIS Administration Department.

  • General information about uSis is available here.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. V. Thakur

When contacting your lecturer, please include your full name, student number, and course title.


The deadline for submission of the Final Essay is Friday 7 June 2019.