POLS3335 Social Movements and the Politics of Change

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 option in the Political Science and International Relations; Philosophy, Politics and Economics; Gender Studies major sequences
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 3 elective
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, as seen in the Arab Spring, Indignados, and Occupy. 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 urban squatting, 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.
Students are able to (1) describe and evaluate the key theoretical and analytical frameworks used in studying social movements; (2) demonstrate a detailed understanding of the characteristics of social movements and their actions; (3) critically appraise key debates regarding the form and function of social movements and their role in global politics; and (4) formulate advanced arguments in written and oral assessments that employ conventions from Political Science and International Relations.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial preparation and participation; (2) review essay; and (3) research essay. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Charan Bal
Unit rules
any Level 2 POLS unit
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.
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  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.