Module Catalogue 2019/20

SOC2085 : Refugees and Displacement: Borders, Camps, and Asylum

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Silvia Pasquetti
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



Population displacement is an increasingly salient feature of contemporary societies. This module is a social science exploration of how forced displacement is produced, regulated, and experienced. It focuses on displacement to interrogate issues of citizenship, belonging, and exclusion. It deals with the interaction between the policing of physical borders and the production of societal boundaries and inequalities. The first half of the lecture series focuses on refugee camps and international humanitarianism in the Global South, especially in Africa and the Middle East. The second half of the lecture series focuses on transit migration and asylum seekers in Europe with particular attention to public and policy debates about asylum, security, welfare, and belonging.

The key aims of this module are:

To provide a conceptual and theoretical overview of sociological and anthropological debates about refugees and displacement.

To identify key connections between the formation and management of refugee camps in Africa and the Middle East and European public and policy debates about asylum seekers and refugees.

To explore how forced displacement affects human beings, social relationships, nation-states, and international relations.

Outline Of Syllabus

Refugees, asylum seekers, undocumented migrants, and aliens—these are all categories that are excluded from “the national order of things,” which is defined by citizenship, borders, and state sovereignty. In this module, we study sociological and anthropological approaches to international population movement, especially forced displacement. We focus on how displacement interacts with issues of citizenship, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. We develop a transnational perspective on immobile refugees living in camps in Africa and the Middle East and mobile asylum seekers in Europe. We begin by discussing population displacement in historical and contemporary perspectives and by studying the salience of displacement for key societal issues such as belonging, access to resources, democracy, and human rights. Then, we focus on refugee camps and international humanitarianism in Africa and the Middle East, discussing works by social scientists such as Ilana Feldman, Lisa Malkki, Jennifer Hyndman, and Michel Agier. We then address the question of the policing of borders and the arrival of asylum seekers in Europe, paying attention to both the experiences of the asylum seekers and the public and policy debates within the receiving societies. We draw on Didier Fassin, Sandro Mezzadra, Nicholas De Genova and other social scientists to study the government of displaced people in Europe in all its tensions and contradictions.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

At the end of the module students will:

Be familiar with key debates in the scholarly literature on refugees and displacement.
Develop a perspective on refugees and displacement that is problem-oriented rather than group-oriented.
Understand forced displacement in connection with multiple axes of difference such as class, gender, and age and with broader transnational and global processes.

Intended Skill Outcomes

At the end of the module students will:

Be able to think critically about the government of displaced people in different parts of the world.
Evaluate critically public and policy debates about refugees and asylum seekers, especially in Europe.
Demonstrate capacity to conduct critical and analytical writing.
Develop organisational and planning skills.

Students on this module will also continue developing practical skills including time-management, group work and interpersonal communication skills.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1100:00100:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading88:0064:008 hours preparation for each seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops21:002:00Film showing
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops21:002:00Assessment preparation/feedback sessions
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures will introduce students to key theoretical approaches, policy concerns, public debates, and empirical studies. These will be explored and discussed in more detail in the student-led seminars. Seminars are designed to provide students with structured tasks and readings. Students will be encouraged to discuss their analysis of key texts with their peers. In the assignment workshops students can explore the key features of the assessment requirements and raise questions and concerns as appropriate. The lecture/feedback session will enable students to get detailed feedback on assignments.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A50Seen Exam
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M502,000 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay2MEssay Plan; optional
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay will enable students to explore in detail a topic of their choice, assembling and analysing information, organising material and putting forward a coherent and reasoned argument. The exam will allow students to develop a broader understanding of the module, develop their own revision strategies, and manage their time carefully in order to revise effectively. The exam tests students overall absorption of course material.

The first assignment (the essay) is preceded by formative assessment (an essay plan), which is optional for students.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.