SSST Subjects

PS432 Multi-Ethnic States


Programme(s) where module is offered

  • BA Political Science and International Relations with Business
  • BA Political Science and International Relations with International Law (TBC)
  • BA Political Science and International Relations with Diplomacy

Status (core, option, free choice)



FHEQ Level



Unit Value



Semester taught



Pre-Requisite Modules or Qualifications

PS 390 Nations and Nationalism


Module Code



Module coordinator

Maja Savic-Bojanic


Applicable From



Educational Aims of the Module

  • Most, if not all, of the world´s states are multi-ethnic states, where multi-ethnicity implies that no group comprises more than 95% of the population. This includes states as different as China, where the Han Chinese comprise approximately 92% of the population, and Tanzania, with over 100 different ethnic groups of which the largest comprises just over 14% of the population.
  • Yet the desire to “live in a territory of one's own” has, since the advent of modern nationalism, been a powerful force challenging the state system and re-making the borders of the world political map. In many cases, such ethno-territorialism involves the political use of ethnic identities, linking an imagined collective identity with a territorial region, and arguing that each group should have its own space.
  • And as scholars like Mazower (1998) show, ethno-territorialism is often presented as a 'solution' by some political forces to the anxieties, insecurities and fears that accompany change, where the seductive simplicity of ethno-territorial visions is contrasted with the “unnaturalness” of cultural heterogeneity.
  • Nonetheless, some multi-ethnic states function effectively and successfully. The question this module seeks to answer is ‘why that should be’, and whether we can find some way of understanding when a multi-ethnic state will be successful or not, that has both a sound theoretical base and some general application.
  • The module will look at what factors may also lead to ethnic conflict and what factors make a state more viable. This will be accomplished through case studies of various multi-ethnic states from different regions in the world, building on the theoretical and conceptual frameworks discussed in previous classes.
  • The case-study approach requires analysis of real-world data, and so the module is designed as a research-based student- led seminar series, with students researching one country and presenting that to the group. Themodule will also have a variety of readings, discussions and films or presentations on these topics.
  • Readings are interdisciplinary, drawing from political science, history and anthropology, as well as current statistical analyses from organizations such as the United Nations. In addition the students are expected to research their assigned countries independently, but will be led through the research process. The module is intended to prepare students for their thesis research in the fourth year of study as well as engage them critically in the study of ethnicity.

Module Outline/Syllabus

  • Ethnicity and Nationalism 
  • Ethnicity, Democracy and Statehood 
  • Case studies: Lebanon and Afghanistan 
  • Secession Movements 
  • Case studies: Northern Epirus/Transnistria 
  • Ethnicity and Violence 
  • Ethnicity and Self-Determination 
  • Case studies: Sri Lanka, China and Laos 
  • Minority Cultures and Self-Determination 
  • Case studies: Ivory Coast/Ghana 
  • Migrations and Diaspora 
  • Minority Profiles in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Student Engagement Hours

Type Number per Term Duration Total Time
Lectures 30 1 hour 30 hours
Tutorials 30 1 hour 90 hours
Total Guided/Independent Learning Hours 90
Total Contact Hours 60
Total Engagement Hours 150

Assessment Method Summary

Type Number Required Duration / Length Weighting Timing / Submission Deadline
Exam 1 3 hours 50% End of semester
Mid-semester test 1 2 hours 20% Mid-semester
Presentation 1 10 minutes 10% Mid-semester and end of semester
Short Papers 2 500 words each 10% Beginning of semester and mid-semester
Term Paper 1 1000 words 10% End of semester

Module Outcomes

Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Critically evaluate key concepts and issues in the study of ethnicity, including the relationship between ethnicity, nationalism and state
  • Critical analysis of the various data and factors or indicators of state success and failure
  • Ability to develop a theoretically sound and empirically substantiated analysis of the ethnic relations within a specific state, supported by historical and current data, and to organise the results of this analysis into a clear, logical presentation, both verbal and written to specialist and non-specialist audiences

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Interactive Lectures on module material will provide core learning (ILO: 1-2)
  • Research and analysis of country case studies for paper and presentation (1-3)
  • Student-led seminars with individual presentations and discussions (ILO: 1-3)
  • Two written assignments in addition to main term paper (ILO: 1-3)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Midterm exam and Final exam (ILO: 1-3)
  • Course project (paper and presentation) (ILO:1,2)
  • Short papers (ILO: 1-3)

Practical Skills:

  • Recognise and effectively interpret data relating to ethnicity and state success or failure
  • Ability to locate, identify, and label different countries, ethnic groups and secessionist movements on maps
  • Interpret social science theory and how it applies to the real world/cases
  • Specialised research skills in the field of multiethnic states

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Short papers focused on research and finding the right data (PS: 1,3,4)
  • Individual project assignment (PS: 1,2)
  • Use of quizzes to test student subject knowledge (PS: 1-3)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Written Exam (PS: 1,3)
  • Term Papers (PS: 1,3,4)

Transferable Skills:

  • Ability to evaluate ideas
  • Presentation skills
  • Ability to independently research
  • Communication skills: written and oral
  • Ability to critically reflect upon data

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Lectures (TS: 1-5)
  • Discussion of readings(TS: 1,4,5)
  • Group Discussion (1,4,5)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Written Exam (TS: 1,3,4,5)
  • Presentation (TS: 1-5)
  • Papers (TS: 1,3,4,5)

Key Texts and/or other learning materials

Set text

  • Guibernau, M., Rex, J., (Eds), (2010), 2nd Edition, The Ethnicity Reader: Nationalism, Multiculturalism and Migration. Polity Press

Supplementary Materials

  • Annan, K., Stewart, F., (Eds), (2014), Horizontal Inequalities and Conflict: Understanding Group Violence in Multiethnic Societies, Palgrave. 
  • Bakke, K., Wibbels, E.,(2006) Diversity, Disparity, and Civil Conflict in Federal States, World Politics, Vol. 59, No. 1, pp 1-50. 
  • Calzonetti, C., (2005), Robert Kaplan Interview, [online], (Accessed 11 July 2016). 
  • Nagel, (1994), Constructing Ethnicity: Creating and Recreating Ethnic Identity and Culture, Social Problems, Vol. 41, No. 1. 
  • Shatzmiller, M., (2002), Islam & Bosnia: Conflict Resolution and Foreign Policy in Multiethnic States, McGillQueens University Press. 
  • Sillitoe , White, (1992), Ethnic Group and the British Census: The Search for a Question, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A, 155, Part 1, pp 141-163. 
  • Stepan, A., (1999), Federalism and Democracy: Beyond the U.S. Model, Journal of Democracy, Vol 10, No.4, pp 19-34.  Steven Fish, M., Brooks, R., Does Diversity Hurt Democracy? [online],
  • (Accessed 11 July 2016) 
  • Typecast Pictures, (2007), Iraq in Fragments. Dr. James Longley. Daylight Factory, DVD.

Please note

This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the module and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if he/she takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided.

More detailed information on the learning outcomes, content and teaching, learning and assessment methods of each module and programme can be found in the departmental or programme handbook.

The accuracy of the information contained in this document is reviewed annually by the University of Buckingham and may be checked by the Quality Assurance Agency.

Date of Production : June 2016

Date approved by School Learning and Teaching Committee: 19th April 2017

Date approved by School Board of Study : 26th April 2017

Date approved by University Learning and Teaching Committee: 10th May 2017

Date of Annual Review: 31st December 2018


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