HI5047 - Migration, Diaspora and the Making of Modern Britain

What will I learn on this module?

This module introduces students to a longue durée overview of migration, diaspora, and British history. It explores how mobility, transnationalism, and ethnic diversity have played an intrinsic and transformative role in shaping British society, culture, economics, and politics. The module considers diversity and difference from the early modern period, but primarily focuses on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the significance of the colonial and postcolonial context. Students will examine patterns of mobility and circulation within the British Empire and how conceptions of subjecthood and citizenship shifted over the twentieth century with the advent of the Commonwealth.

The course will also explore the political dimensions of migration: forms of transnational activism and dissent, issues around political marginalisation and representation, refugees and asylum, and racist and anti-immigrant movements. We will consider the ways in which diaspora communities have transformed the social and cultural fabric of areas to, and from, which they have moved. The module explores the evolution of British multiculturalism, ‘race relations’, and the era of interfaith relations.

The module also introduces students to some of the key concepts and debates in the study of migration, such as diaspora, transnationalism, circulation, mobility, and hybridity. Students will be encouraged to engage with a wide range of primary and secondary material, foregrounding the voices and struggles of immigrants, interrogating the prevailing historiography, and reflecting on the extent to which official archives and versions of British history reflect the stories of minority communities.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn on this module through lectures and seminars, in addition to regular student-led engagement with primary and secondary source material. The lectures explore the core themes of the module, and are organised both chronologically and thematically. You will also learn a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of migration and diaspora. This will include different historical approaches but also explore a variety of other disciplines (especially political studies, sociology, and anthropology). You will prepare for the seminars by undertaking essential and recommended reading, and will at times be asked to prepare and present a short, informal presentations to the class on this material. The seminars will also include small group work and larger class discussions, and will involve engaging and analysing a wide range of primary source material. All learning materials, tasks, and readings will be posting on the eLearning Portal (Blackboard) to enable participation in the seminar programme. In addition to the reading list, the module is accompanied by a film series that explores a range of the periods and themes that come up in the module. Discussion on the films will take place via threads on the module’s Blackboard Discussion Board.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be supported through your module tutor, engagement with your peers, and through the programme leader. The module tutor will be accessible within publicised Feedback and Consultation hours and via email. Support is also provided through group and individual tutorials, providing the opportunity for addressing specific issues and keeping track of progress. Your peers will provide you with a collaborative learning environment, and your programme leader will guide you through the requirements and expectations of your degree programme more broadly. Support will also be provided via threads on the module’s Blackboard Discussion Board. You will also be supported through individual engagement with the academic literature, lectures, and resources available on the eLP. Formative feedback will be on-going through seminar activities and assessment tasks.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Knowledge and understanding of how migration and diaspora have impacted modern Britain, and an awareness of key scholarly interventions and the types of historical sources that help us to understand histories of migration.
2. A critical understanding of conceptual and theoretical categories that relate to these themes.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. A range of transferable skills, including the ability to make independent critical judgements, to critically evaluate sources, to summarise the research of others, to present arguments in a cogent and persuasive way, and to understand contemporary debates around migration in their historical context.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
4. Awareness of and sensitivity towards the diversity of British history and the long history of pluralism, and an ability to understand and illuminate histories of marginalised communities, and foreground voices which have often been silenced by prevailing narratives.
5. Engagement with ethical questions around migration, including topics relating to empire and postcolonialism, the politics of immigration, racism, refugees and asylum seekers, and an understanding of intersectional approaches to migration, and its relationship with gender, race, sexuality, class, caste, and more.

How will I be assessed?

1 x 1,000-word article on the historical impact of migration on a particular town/city/region in Britain.


1 x 1,000-word article on one of the films curated for the module, and its connection with the themes covered in the module.


2 x 2,000-word essays

The essays will provide an opportunity for the students to demonstrate their understanding of migration and diaspora in the history of Britain, using a range of secondary and primary material, and showing skills in reading, analysis, source interpretation, criticism, and citation. These essays will be written in response to questions chosen from two thematic lists provided by the module tutor. One of the two essays will require a comparative component.

Formative assessment will be based around short student presentations in class.





Module abstract

Migration has played a formative and transformative role in the history of Britain for many centuries. This module introduces students to the significant and varied impact that immigrants have made on the society, culture, politics and economics of Britain, with a focus on the last two hundred years. Students will explore what it means to call a community ‘a diaspora’, reflect on how multiculturalism has evolved and been resisted, and analyse the ways in which the British Empire and postcolonialism has affected patterns of mobility and circulation. The module will cover a wide range of time periods, concepts, and themes, with topics covering: anti-colonial struggles, Windrush and its legacy, refugees, national identity, music, food, and literature. Students will be introduced to and interpret a wide range of scholarship and diverse primary sources, as well as a series of films that relate to histories of migration and diaspora.

Course info

UCAS Code QV31

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2023 or September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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