Anarchism: Theory, Practice, History (HIH2034A)

StaffDr Mike Finn - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module aims to:

  • Furnish you with a comprehensive critical understanding of anarchist and post-anarchist theory and practice as these have developed historically
  • Critically evaluate anarchism’s success and failures in practice
  • Enable you to critique anarchism’s relationship with history as written and practised
  • Engage substantively with anarchist tropes in popular culture

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate an understanding of the key developments in the history of anarchism
  • 2. Summarise and evaluate different historical perspectives relating to the history of anarchism as a social movement and a body of political thought
  • 3. Critically evaluate the key social, political, cultural and economic themes relating to the history of anarchism

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate an ability to analyse the key developments in a defined historical subject.
  • 5. Demonstrate an ability to understand and deploy complex historical terminology correctly.
  • 6. Demonstrate an ability to handle different approaches to history in a contested area of historical study

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Select, organise and analyse material for written work and oral presentations of different prescribed lengths and formats.
  • 8. Present complex arguments orally.
  • 9. Present an argument in a written form in a clear and organised manner, with appropriate use of correct English
  • 10. Through essay development process, demonstrate ability to reflect critically on your own work, to respond constructively to feedback, and to implement suggestions and improve work on this basis

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Anarchy is order – An introduction to anarchist thought
  • Historicising anarchism
  • The anarchist canon 1: Theory or practice?
  • The anarchist canon 2: Postanarchism
  • Against the grain: Anarchism in the longue dureé
  • Anarchy in action 1: France and Russia
  • Anarchy in action 2: Spain
  • Seeds beneath the snow: ‘practical’ anarchisms in ‘non-revolutionary times’
  • Anarchism and social ecology
  • Occupy This: Anarchy and the politics of popular culture
  • Anarchism and the practice of history

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 2222 x 1 hour lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2211 x 2 hour seminars
Guided Independent Study22Web-based activities located on ELE – preparation for seminars and presentations
Guided Independent Study234Reading and preparation for seminars and presentations

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay (term time)402500 words1-7, 9-10Oral and Written
Group Presentation2025 minutes per presentation + 5 minutes Q&A1-8Oral and Written
Essay (exam period)402500 words1-7, 9-10Oral and Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay (term time)Essay (2500 words)1-7, 9-10Referral/Deferral period
Presentation750-word script for presentation1-8Referral/Deferral period
Essay (exam period)Essay (2500 words)1-7, 9-10Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment consists of a 2500 word essay, as in the original assessment, but replaces participation in the presentation with a 750 word written script that could be delivered in such a presentation.

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Adams, M. S., Kropotkin, Read and the Intellectual History of British Anarchism: Between Reason and Romanticism (London: Palgrave, 2015).
  • Bourg, J., From Revolution to Ethics: May 1968 and Contemporary French Thought (Montreal: MQUP, 2007).
  • Bakunin, M., God and the State (New York: Mother Earth, 1882).
  • Bookchin, M., The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy (Oakland CA: AK Press, 2005).
  • Chomsky, N., On Anarchism (London: Penguin, 2014).
  • Goldman, E., Living My Life (London: Penguin, 2006).
  • Goodway, D., Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow (Oakland CA: PM Press, 2011).
  • Herman, E. S. and Chomsky, N., Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. (London: Vintage, 1995).
  • Jun, N., Anarchism and Political Modernity (London: Bloomsbury, 2011).
  • Kinna, R., The Continuum Companion to Anarchism (London: Continuum, 2012).
  • Kinna, R., Anarchism: A Beginner’s Guide (London: OneWorld, 2004).
  • Kropotkin, P., Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (London: Freedom Press, 2009).
  • Marshall, P., Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism (London: 1992).
  • Purkis, J., and Bowen, J. (eds.), Changing Anarchisms: Anarchist Theory and Practice in a Global Age. (Manchester: MUP, 2004).
  • Rousselle D., and Evren, S. (eds)., Post-Anarchism: A Reader (London: Pluto, 2011).
  • Scott, J. C., Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012).
  • Scott, J. C., Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States (New Haven CT: Yale University Press, 2017).
  • Ward, C., Anarchy in Action (London: Freedom Press, 1973).
  • Ward, C., Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: OUP, 2000).
  • Wilson, C. M., Anarchist Essays (ed. N. Walter) (London: Freedom Press, 2000).

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • Hopscotch Films, Accidental Anarchist (2017).
  • Battle in Seattle (2008).
  • Pacific Street Films, The Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists (1980).
  • Pacific Street Films, Anarchy in America (1983).

Available as distance learning?


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Key words search

Anarchism, Libertarian socialism