Identity and the Politics of Difference

Course content

It is difficult to avoid talk of identity in politics today. Whether called upon in the spirit of emancipation, national unity, or criticized as politically redundant, the concept of identity has a huge impact on the way we all operate as political beings. This course offers a window into key discussions of identity in political thought over the last three decades. The course will pay special attention to how the various conceptions of identity offer justifications for particular forms of political action. For instance, how Butler’s theory of gender performativity encourages the subversion of identity, how Taylor’s conception calls for authenticity and self-fulfillment, and how Parekh’s dialectic of identity underpins an entire theory of political dialogue.




!! The structure of this course will be 100% online !! 


Bachelor student (2017 programme curriculum): 7.5 ECTS

Master student: 7.5 ECTS


Notice: It is only possible to enroll for one course having a 3-day compulsory written take-home assignment exam due to coincident exam periods.

Learning outcome


By the end of the course, students will be able to demonstrate a deeper knowledge of:

  • The different approaches to the concept of identity as discussed in the selected literature.
  • The core contributors to this field of study, and how they relate to one another.
  • The strengths and weaknesses found within each approach.
  • A greater understanding and respect for conceptions of identity as they appear in contemporary political theory.



Students will develop their skills in:

  • Comparing and analysing different theoretical perspectives within the selected literature.
  • Applying key theoretical concepts to new and unexpected political developments relating to the field of study.
  • Understanding the historical and theoretical relationships between seemingly discrete positions and approaches.



In addition, students will be able to:

  • Elucidate and critically assess the concepts and theories studied in this elective, making reference to real-world events, issues, and political developments.
  • Communicate complex ideas and concepts to their peers through presentations and group discussions.

The teaching and learning methods for this elective will take the form of lectures, class discussions, student presentations and written assignments.

In order of study:


Pateman, C. (1988) The Sexual Contract, Polity Press: Cambridge


Butler, J. (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, Routledge: Abingdon


Moi, T. (1999) What is a Woman? And Other Essays, Oxford University Press: Oxford


Taylor, C. (1992) The Ethics of Authenticity, Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA.


Parekh, B. (2008) A New Politics of Identity: Political Principles for an Independent World, Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke


Sen, A. (2006) Identity & Violence: The Illusion of Destiny, Penguin Books: London

No specific and non-standard competences are required for attending this course, however, previous experience in political theory or related fields is strongly recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
3-day compulsory written take-home assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28