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Unit information: Modern Slavery: Issues and Debates in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Modern Slavery: Issues and Debates
Unit code SOCI30097
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Okyere
Open unit status Not open
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School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Unit Information

This module considers two different sets of arguments about slavery in the contemporary world: first, the case made by anti-slavery campaigners who claim that there are 35 million ‘slaves’ in the world today; and second, the argument that transatlantic slavery lives on as a system of racial domination, in particular, through the American prison industrial complex. These arguments are examined against longer-standing philosophical, sociological and anthropological debates about the defining features of slavery. The module aims to:
• Introduce students to definitional and philosophical debates on slavery, and to the literatures on ‘modern slavery’ and on the afterlife of transatlantic slavery
• Encourage students to think critically about the concept of ‘modern slavery’
• Develop students’ understanding of what the study of transatlantic slavery can teach us about contemporary restraints on freedom structured along lines of race, gender, class and nationality

Your learning on this unit

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  • demonstrate familiarity with two different sets of arguments about slavery in the contemporary world (‘modern slavery’; ‘afterlife of slavery’);
  • analyse, assess, and communicate empirical sociological information on at least one phenomena deemed to be either ‘modern slavery’ or constitutive of transatlantic slavery’s ‘afterlife’;
  • Critically evaluate some of the definitional, theoretical and political problems posed by the concept of slavery;
  • demonstrate understanding of how these definitional, theoretical and political problems are manifest in arguments about slavery in the contemporary world

How you will learn

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

How you will be assessed

Individual poster design submission with 500-word commentary (50%)

Peer assessed group oral presentation with 500 word individual written submissions (50%)

Both assessments assess all learning outcomes


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. SOCI30097).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.