HI5055 - Migration Nation: Britain’s History of Immigration, Multiculturalism and Race

What will I learn on this module?

This module introduces students to a long overview of migration and British history. This stretches back around five centuries, but the main focus is on the last 200 years. It explores how mobility, transnationalism, and ethnic diversity have played a transformative role in shaping British society, culture, economics and politics. The module considers diversity and difference from the early modern period, however 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 a full range of historical sources, and reflecting on the extent to which official archives and versions of British history represent – or ignore – 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, in order to participate in discussions during the seminars . The seminars will also include small group work and exploring 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. The Blackboard site will also contain a wide range of supplementary material provided by the Module Leader, such as videos, articles, and relevant websites and articles. In addition to the reading list, the module is accompanied by a film series and a Spotify playlist that explore a range of the periods and themes that come up in the module.

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?

Summative Assessment

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

A short presentation (with slideshow) or video on either:

The historical impact of migration on a particular town/city/region in Britain.


One of the films on the module’s film list, and its connection with the themes covered in the module.





Module abstract

Britain can be described as an ‘immigrant nation’ – the movement of people has transformed the country’s history. This module explores the significant and diverse impact that immigrants have made on the society, culture, politics and economics of Britain. We will mainly focus on the last 150 years (although also go back a bit further during some weeks), and think about the huge influence of the British Empire and the postcolonial period. Through a wide and diverse range of sources – that includes music, film, poetry, and much more – we will learn about why people have moved to Britain, why many left, what their experiences were like, and how they made Britain what it is today. We will look at how people reacted to new migrant populations, the development of anti-immigrant and racist political movements, and the ways in which this has been resisted. We will explore the history of migrant politics and resistance, but also go right up to the Black Lives Matter movement and more.

Students will analyse the ways in which the British Empire and postcolonialism has affected patterns of mobility, explore what it means to call a community ‘a diaspora’, and reflect on how multiculturalism has evolved and been resisted. 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. We will also explore the environment around us and think about the ways in which migration has had an impact on Newcastle and the wider region.

Course info

UCAS Code T720

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 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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