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Undergraduate Module Descriptor

LAW3204: Migrants, Refugees and Citizens in the UK

This module descriptor refers to the 2023/4 academic year.


NQF Level 6
Credits 15 ECTS Value 7.5
Term(s) and duration

This module will run during term 1 (12 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Helena Wray (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


Legal distinctions between citizens and immigrants, and controls over the entry and stay of migrants are seen as critical to modern societies but, in practice, they are complex, contested and difficult to apply. In the UK, law and policy remain entwined with the UK’s history as a colonial poweralthough the recent past, particularly Brexit, has created new dynamics. Reflecting concerns about the entry of refugees, , irregular migration, and criminal acts by non-citizens, the state has accumulated an extraordinary range of powers over non-citizens, including of arrest, detention and deportation, while internal border controls (the immigration ‘hostile environment’) have made questions of citizenship or immigration status part of everyday life in the UK with potentially catastrophic consequences for some, as demonstrated by the Windrush scandal. Many people have lived precariously in the UK for years, while Brexit has created a new group of residents living with uncertainty.


This module will introduce you to the UK’s citizenship and immigration laws in their social, political and historical context. It is suitable for all law students and no pre-requisite modules are required. Knowledge of this area of law will be useful for students wishing to pursue a career in social-welfare law, NGOs (e.g. human rights organisations), government and the public sector, as well as for those interested in British history, politics and society or seeking to improve their understanding of a critical area of law and policy.


This module will also be useful for students who wish to or who have already worked in the Law School Immigration Law Clinic.

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