Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

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Unit Overview


Social movements play a central role in defining the form and function of political institutions, and why and how they change. From nationalist movements in Latin America, Asia and Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries to the movements of the 1960s, where people organised in support of civil rights, gay rights, feminism, peace, and the environment, social movements have played a fundamental role in shaping the architecture of political institutions. More recently, new technologies have furthered cross-border organisation and intensified the global context of extra-institutional politics. This unit examines how and why people participate in politics through social movements, and the complex relationship between rulemaking and rulebreaking. Covering a range of movements from the Tea Party to Extinction Rebellion, the unit enables students to develop a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of social movements and their actions; the drivers of their formation and methods of organisation; movements' relationships with states, institutions and markets; and their impacts

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 core unit in the Social and Environmental Sustainability major sequence
  • Level 3 option in the Political Science and International Relations; Gender Studies; Philosophy, Politics and Economics; International Cybersecurity; Human Rights major sequences
  • Level 3 elective

Students are able to (1) demonstrate a detailed understanding of the characteristics of social movements, their actions, and their impacts; (2) critically evaluate key ideas, theories and concepts used in understanding social movements; (3) independently and collaboratively appraise key debates regarding the form and function of social movements and their role in global politics; (4) competently apply basic Political Science and International Relations methods and skills to design and execute research on social movements; and (5) effectively communicate knowledge, ideas, analyses and arguments about social movements in different formats.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) analytical assignment and (2) research essay. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Kelly Gerard
Unit rules
12 points of Social Sciences and/or Humanities study at level 2
Advisable prior study
students should ideally have studied level 1
and level 2 units of the Major
Contact hours
up to 3 hours per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.