Uni of Leeds schools are axing modules on race, gender, and colonialism

POLIS and SSP schools amongst those cutting controversial modules

The University of Leeds has been criticised by students for axing modules concerned with race, gender, and colonialism. These actions appear to have been taken without consulting students.

Schools involved so far include the School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), the School of Sociology and Social Policy (SSP), and the School of Languages, Cultures, and Societies. However, it is expected other schools will also cut modules for next academic year. Students believe this is in line with the university’s Covid-19 management plan. The university has not confirmed this, and says modules routinely “fluctuate” and they are still working to decolonise the curriculum.

Freya Curtis, a POLIS student, told The Tab Leeds: “I study politics at Leeds and they’ve cut a load of modules for this upcoming academic year, mainly the ones that are about race/gender/colonialism which is completely not on and extremely tone deaf given the current political climate. As far as I’m aware this is indicative of a huge problem at Leeds concerning equality/diversity and I have heard from friends in other departments they have done similar things.”

On Facebook, Freya said: “Given the socio-political climate of this year, this decision is not only tone deaf but extremely disrespectful and shameful, contributing to further whitewashing of the curriculum.”

Freya says, in POLIS, a module on the Conservative Party is available to study, however the equivalent module on the Labour Party has been scrapped. Other modules on international development, race, gender, and colonialism have also been scrapped, whilst one examining British prime Ministers and British politics remains on the syllabus.

In an open letter featuring student signatures to Tom Ward, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and head of student education, Freya says: “It is clear that the modules and topics now offered to us as POLIS students is Eurocentric, westernised and whitewashed.”

Freya posted her open letter to Facebook

A spokesperson for the University of Leeds said: “We are committed to creating an environment that meets the needs and aspirations of students and staff from all backgrounds.

“This includes providing an inclusive, research-led curriculum while developing and retaining a talented workforce with increased diversity at all levels.

“While modules may fluctuate each year, an ongoing review of course content across the University includes a focus on decolonising the curriculum.

“Issues of race, gender and inequality are important module components and this is reflected in a number of changes that have already been embedded into relevant courses.”

Modules have also been cut from the School of Mathematics, the School of Sociology and Social Policy, and the School of Languages, Cultures, and Societies.

Get in touch with us on Facebook or Instagram if your modules have been cut. The open letter has already garnered hundreds of signatures. You can sign here.