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2016/17 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3697 Colonising Animals: More-than-Human Histories of Empire in Asia

40 creditsClass Size: 16

Module manager: Dr Jonathan Saha
Email: TBC

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2016/17

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

European colonisation had a profound impact upon wildlife in Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Americas. It brought about the migration of animal populations into new ecological systems. It contributed to the extinction and endangerment of entire species, directly through hunting and indirectly through environmental change. At the same time, animals were used to maintain colonial rule. Working elephants, war horses, pack mules and many other beasts of burden were essential to colonial rule and its allied commercial activities. As well as being threatened and used by humans in colonial contexts, animals were themselves a danger to life, and to colonial interests. Rats and mosquitoes were vectors of disease. Tigers and other predatory animals came into conflict with human settlements, particularly as agriculture began to encroach into their habitats. In this module we will study the impact and legacies of modern imperialism by focusing on the histories of animals, from the mosquito to the elephant. The module traces the emergence of global environmental problems and assesses the role that colonisation has had in bringing them about. We will read articles that draw on examples from across the colonial world, but we will be grounded in the particular case of colonial Burma through a range of primary sources, including novels, natural histories and government records. Through this, students will be able to see how global processes worked out in a local context.


This module examines the history of modern empires through a focus on human-animal relations. It aims to:
- provide a thorough grounding in the emerging field of animal history, and familiarity with the historiographical debates within it;
- teach about the impact of colonial rule in transforming local cultures, societies, economies and ecologies, encouraging critical thinking about post-colonial legacies;
- inform knowledge of the history of British imperialism in Burma;
- introduce the wider methods and debates within environmental history;
- enable use of the critical methodological tools of post-colonial theory;
- facilitate engagement with the interdisciplinary debates within animal studies.

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module, students will be able to:
- engage critically with the history of human-animal relationships in colonial contexts;
- assess the impact that colonial rule had on animal populations, and wider environment;
- select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general issues and arguments;
- identify particular academic interpretations, evaluate them critically, and form an individual viewpoint.


Week 1 - Introduction
Week 2 - Why Study Animals?
Week 3 - The Lords of the White Elephant
Week 4 - Histories of Natural History
Week 5 - The ‘Hairy’ Family of Burma
Week 6 - 'Jungle Wallahs' and Imperial Masculinity
Week 7 - Hunting for Sport
Week 8 - Extermination
Week 9 - Experimentation
Week 10 - Cruelty and Empathy
Week 11 - Breeding and Improving the 'Stock'
Week 12 - Eating Animals
Week 13 - Preservation and Protection
Week 14 - Trading and Transporting Animals
Week 15 - Going to the Zoo
Week 16 - Beasts of Burden
Week 17 - Mosquitos and Malaria, Rats and Plague
Week 18 - Dogs as 'Pariahs' and Pets
Week 19 - Political Animals
Week 20 - Animals at War
Week 21 - Histories of the Anthropocene
Week 22 - Revision Class

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
Private study hours352.00
Total Contact hours48.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)400.00

Private study

To prepare for seminars, students will be expected to read articles, books and documents. These will be set out on the VLE.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be monitored on class contributions, participation in VLE activities, and the quality of their non-assessed work prior to and during the seminars.

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 4,000-word essay, due by 12 noon Monday of exam week 2, semester 140.00
PresentationVerbal presentation10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

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)3 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

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: 16/04/2015


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