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2016/17 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST2195 Britain and Decolonisation - from the Western Front to the Present Day

20 creditsClass Size: 24

Module manager: Dr Catherine Coombs

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2016/17

Module replaces

HIST2190: British Imperial Culture, 1914 to the Present Day

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This course engages students in one of the liveliest areas of historical debate in modern British history: what is the relationship between Britain and decolonisation?Whilst a great deal of historical study tends to locate decolonisation in the colonies (and post-colonies) themselves, this module seeks to 'bring the empire home' by looking at the various ways in which Britain has been transformed during its turbulent transition from global behemoth to postcolonial state. In doing so, students will look at a range of sources, including literature, film, print and television media, music and art. In so doing, and by tracking continuity in tandem with change, students will look to investigate critically the notion of decolonisation itself. Key authors under study will include Paul Gilroy, John Mackenzie, Bill Schwartz, Andrew Thompson and Wendy Webster.


The goals of this module are:
(1) To equip students with a sound historical knowledge of the history of Britain and decolonisation from the First World War to the present day.
(2) To encourage students to develop a sophisticated critical understanding of imperialism, decolonisation and postcolonialism.
(3) To encourage students to approach the question of decolonisation from a number of historical perspectives. This will be achieved by combining political, cultural and social approaches and by working with a variety of primary sources, including fiction, film, journalism, fashion, music and art.
(4) To help students to think critically about Britain's place within the world today in connection with its colonial and postcolonial past.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will have gained an understanding of the place of empire - and its loss - in twentieth and twenty-first century British history. By drawing on recent historiographical trends around postcolonial Britain, the 'new' imperial history, 'decolonisation studies' and globalisation, students will be comfortable combining empirical data with a range of theoretical approaches and will be able to incorporate insights from cultural studies, social science and politics into their historical understanding.


The module is thematic, chronological and interdisciplinary. Built around a core political framework, the module charts the decline of the British Empire through the twentieth century.

How British people experienced this decline, however, is the central investigative lens. Students will be encouraged to hold in the same analytical frame a history of Britain 'at home' with the decline of empire in the wider world. How attitudes to empire changed over time will be examined closely, as will the shifting ideologies that supported empire, the place of race, gender and class in the shaping of imperial (and post-imperial discourse), and the nature of imperial 'after-lives' in the post-colonial age.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Film Screenings62.0012.00
Private study hours168.00
Total Contact hours32.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Performance will be assessed through one 2,000-word essay and two online critical responses, each of 750-1000 words.

2 x critical responses (750-1000 words) addressing the 'core question' of pre-allocated seminars, together worth 10% of formal assessment. These will be submitted 48 hours in advance of the seminar and returned at the start of the seminar.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2,000 word assessed essay to be delivered by 12 noon Monday of Week 830.00
Report2 x critical responses (750-1,000 words each)10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 21/10/2016


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