Understanding European Identities

First year module

The module will start from a brief consideration of typical European issues.  It will then consider how contemporary understandings of what does and does not constitute 'European-ness' have been formed by their cultural historical trajectories, looking at themes such as Empire and the rise of the nation state, religion, the Enlightenment, colonialism, authoritarianism/democracy, post-colonialism, transnationalism, globalisation and localisation, and the processes of 'othering'. 

The module will then proceed to substantial consideration of how competing markers of European-ness and non-European-ness are played out in current European debates, with particular reference to the construction of a 'shared European past' and a 'common European identity'.

A deeper understanding of such identity debates will be achieved by drawing on relevant cultural theorists such as Stuart Hall, Michel Foucault, Homi Bhabha, and Julie Kristeva in a manner appropriate to a Level C course.

Learning outcomes  

By the end of the module the student should be able to:

  • Outline some historical and contemporary understandings of 'Europe' and 'European identity' in relation to current European issues and debates;
  • Problematise 'Europe' and 'European identity' as constructed concepts, which are in constant process and negotiation;
  • Draw on relevant Cultural Studies theory and analytical techniques to analyse the contemporary construction of a 'shared European past' and a 'common European identity'.


  • Term One: 2000 word essay/project 50%
  • Term Three: 3 hour examination 50%