Anarchism: Theory, Practice, History (HIH2034A)

StaffDr Mike Finn - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 1: 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 a detailed knowledge of the main themes in the subject, together with a very close knowledge of the areas selected for essay and presentation work
  • 2. Trace the changing nature of, and approaches to, the history of anarchism as a social movement and a body of political thought

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Analyse the key developments in an under-investigated yet significant intellectual and political movement
  • 4. Handle profoundly different approaches to history in relation to social, political and intellectual history
  • 5. Show an understanding of and deploy, complex political and theoretical terminology in a comprehensible manner

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Carry out independent study and group work, including the presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning
  • 7. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment
  • 8. Present arguments orally, and work in a group

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 Activities2222 x 1 hour lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities2211 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

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan500 words1-7Oral and written

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
Essay303000 words1-6Oral and written
Group presentation2025 minutes1-7Peer-assessed and moderated by tutor
Exam502 hours1-6Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay3000 word essay1-6Referral/Deferral period
Group presentationScript as for individual presentation, equivalent to 10 minutes1-7Referral/Deferral period
Exam2 hours1-7Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment consists of a 3000 word essay and 2 hour exam, as in the original assessment, but replaces participation in the group presentation with a written script that could be delivered in such a presentation and which is the equivalent of 10 minutes of speech.

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?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Anarchism; Libertarian socialism