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POLS315 Nationalism and Identity

Major debates and themes in the study of nations and nationalism. Applies theory to a variety of cases around the world.

Exploring how nationalism has shaped and continues to shape the contemporary world, this paper provides a valuable foundation for understanding key features of politics within and between states. The first half of the paper examines the notion of identity, the concepts of nation and ethnicity, the origins of nations and nationalism, and the historical development of nationalism from the nineteenth century to the post-Cold War period.

The second half examines contemporary debates about nationalism, including the basis of national identity, national identity in an international context, poly-ethnic and multinational states, and self-determination and secession. A variety of examples from around the world are used to illustrate.

Paper title Nationalism and Identity
Paper code POLS315
Subject Politics
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $886.35
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,766.35

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18 200-level POLS points
Schedule C
Arts and Music
May not be credited together with POLS 330 passed before 2005.
An interest in national and international affairs is an advantage.
Teaching staff
Dr James Headley
Paper Structure
The paper is divided into two halves:
  • Theories of nationalism and its historical development
  • Nations and nationalism today
Teaching Arrangements

Two lectures and one tutorial each week. The lectures give an introduction to the main themes and issues of the paper. They combine theoretical and empirical analysis of nationalism and associated issues, using a range of examples.

The tutorials are for student-centred discussion and debate of readings relating to topics covered in the lectures.

Recommended: course reader.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  • Understanding of the key concepts and theories of nationalism;
  • Knowledge of nationalism in the past and in the contemporary world;
  • Awareness of the ways in which national identity is constructed and contested;
  • Ability to Identify and critically evaluate relevant theoretical and empirical literature on nationalism.

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 10:00-10:50 28-34, 36-41
Thursday 10:00-10:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Tuesday 14:00-14:50 29-33, 36-38, 40-41
A2 Wednesday 09:00-09:50 29-33, 36-38, 40-41
A3 Tuesday 15:00-15:50 29-33, 36-38, 40-41
A4 Wednesday 11:00-11:50 29-33, 36-38, 40-41