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Unit information: Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict in South Asia in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict in South Asia
Unit code POLI20009
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Wyatt
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will introduce students to the politics of modern South Asia. The unit will focus on the politics of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The unit will provide a broad overview of politics in this region beginning with a survey of the colonial period of state formation, early nation building and the uneven consolidation of political institutions. The unit will examine a number of conflicts that have complicated the process of national building. These include the 1947 partition of India, the divide between West and East Pakistan, the confilict over Kashmir and the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.


  • To introduce students to the political history of South Asia
  • To introduce students to key texts on South Asian politics
  • To demonstrate the challenge of post-colonial state formation
  • To develop a critical and comparative understanding of contemporary South Asian politics.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this unit students will:

  1. demonstrate familiarity with the political development of the states of South Asia
  2. be familiar with the broad sweep of literature on the politics of South Asia
  3. be able to integrate empirical evidence into persuasive arguments and articulate these in seminars and oral presentations
  4. be able to integrate empirical evidence into comparative arguments sustained in a substantial piece of written work
  5. be able to critically assess the place of nationalism in the politics of the region
  6. be able to explain the success and failure of ethnic conflict management among the states of South Asia

Teaching Information

2 hours of lectures and 1 hour seminar

Assessment Information

  • 2,000 word Essay 25%
  • Unseen exam 75%
  • Formative Presentation

All assessments test Learning Outcomes 1-6 listed above.

Reading and References

C. Bates (2007), Subalterns and Raj, Abingdon: Routledge.

  • N. DeVotta (2004), Blowback: linguistic nationalism, institutional decay, and ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Y. Malik, C.H. Kennedy, R.C. Oberst, A. Kapur, M. Lawoti, & S. Rahman (2008), Government and Politics in South Asia, Boulder: Westview, 6th Edition.
  • I. Talbot (2009), Pakistan: A Modern History, London: Hurst