Contemporary Migration in Global Perspective SOCIO4107

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

Migration is among the most contentious and emotive subject in contemporary British society, and in Europe as a whole. While global migration rates have remained relatively stable over the past half a century, migration has become increasingly politicised. States are increasingly seeking to control borders and regulate international migration, conceived as a matter of national and regional security. At the same time, international human rights conventions set obligations to protect and assist refugees, and the free movement of labour within the EU has been seen as central to the creation of a more integrated Europe.


The course takes an international approach to borders and (im)mobilities, as large-scale movements of people arise from processes of regional, European and global integration. Drawing from sociological, social-anthropological and policy debates, we will primarily focus on migration to and from the UK and Scotland, but frame this within the broader context of 'fortress Europe' as a migration system. We will also try to understand how the UK compares with other European states in terms of the geography and history of its migration flows and its migration policies.


Central to the course is the exploration of key debates around migration, borders and (im)mobilities: Why do people migrate? What factors facilitate migration across international borders, and shape the direction and size of migration flows? How does the settlement of migrant groups shape host societies? What are the desired outcomes of policies designed to deal with migration? What are borders and how they punctuate everyday life? What do we understand by (im)mobility? How do borders and (im)mobilities come to be used to manage migration and diversity?


20 contact hours over the course of a single semester. This will normally consist of 2 hours per week and may be a combination of lectures and seminars/workshops.

Requirements of Entry

In order to take this course you need to have met the requirements for entry into our Honours Programme. Basically, this means achieving a grade of 'D' or better in Sociology 1A and 1B and a 'C' or better in Sociology 2A and 2B. You also have to comply with the College of Social Science regulations for progression to Honours.

Excluded Courses



This course is being developed in conjunction with the course 'Multiculturalism, Migration and Belonging', offered in semester 2. While each course can be taken separately, students planning to take Multiculturalism, Migration and Belonging are strongly encouraged to take this course.


1. a 2,250 word essay (50% of overall mark)

2. a 2,250 project (50% of the overall mark)

The project/report will be based on a critical analysis of a specific policy issue and the conflicting responses to that issue. This could be either considering how a certain policy provision may have negative outcomes or how policy construction excludes certain elements of migration. Migration and migration policy-making is a fast moving area for analysis which means that a very specific migration policy issue will be selected ensuring that it is also an issue that reflects broader theoretical arguments and debates about migration, globalisation and power and will encompass a critical analysis of the way in which the issue was framed, the way it has been interpreted and whether this interpretation fits the reality.

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

To enable students to understand the nature of transnational migration and its role as an intrinsic part of global and national processes of socio-cultural change and political mobilisation, in order to gain a more theoretical and comprehensive understanding of human mobility.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. Review contemporary migration flows and related political and socio-cultural debates on migration

2. Identify relevant theoretical frameworks and conceptual models from sociology and related disciplines to explain the migration processes

3. Apply sociological approaches to evaluating policy reports on migration-related matters

4. Recognise political and ethical issues related to conducting research on migration

5. Critically evaluate different state approaches to migration

6. Effectively present knowledge acquired during the course both orally and in a variety of written forms, and work effectively both individually and as part of a group.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.