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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3734 Missionaries, Abolitionists and Colonial Philanthropists: Evangelical Attitudes to Empire, 1765-1865

20 creditsClass Size: 14

Module manager: Professor Andrea Major

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is mutually exclusive with

HIST3392Eastern Subjects: British Attitudes to India, 1757-1857

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module explores the impact of emerging evangelicalism on British ideas about race and empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It looks at the role of the anti-slavery and missionary movements in shaping metropolitan British attitudes toward their colonial subjects overseas and explores Britain’s changing sense of its role and responsibilities as an imperial power. Focussing on Britain, India and the West Indies, it highlights the ideological and political interaction between different sites of empire, as well as the impact that these debates had on British understandings of gender, race and identity.


The objectives of this module are:
1. To explore the relationship between evangelicalism and empire in India and the West Indies the late C18 and C19.
2. To examine the evangelical attitudes to race, religion and the non-white/non-Christian subjects of the empire.
3. To assess the nature, extent and limitations of colonial philanthropy, the so-called ‘civilising mission’, abolitionism and missionary enterprise within the wider discourse of Britain’s imperial responsibilities.
4. To critically analyse a range of primary sources, both written and visual, relating to these issues.
5. To formulate sophisticated and nuanced arguments in relation to these issues, in written and verbal form.
To further develop generic, transferable and subject specific skills.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will demonstrate:
1. A solid understanding of the context of emerging evangelicalism and its impact on colonial social reform movements (especially abolitionism and missionary enterprise).
2. A nuanced appreciation of evangelical attitudes towards and ideas about other races, religions and cultures and their development across the period.
3. A close critical familiarity with key primary texts relating to these issues.
4. A sophisticated knowledge of the relevant historiography, including the most recent developments in the field.


The module will introduce students to the wider context of empire in India and the West Indies, and to debates about them in metropolitan Britain. It focuses primarily on examples drawn from the anti-slavery and missionary movements, and will cover the following themes:
1. Evolving attitudes to race and identity
2. Colonial philanthropy, empire and the British public sphere
3. Anti-slavery rhetoric, imagery and strategies
4. Missionary Societies and their publications
5. Key campaigns for colonial reform (e.g. abolition of sati).
6. Metropolitan British response to key events (e.g. the Indian Uprising and Morant Bay)
Through these themes we will explore evangelical attitudes to issues of race, class and gender, as well as any emerging sense of British imperial identity. These themes will also provide opportunity for close study and critical reading of key primary sources, including texts, images, and material culture.

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 hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Preparatory reading for lectures and seminars; Preparing presentations; Essay Research and Writing; Exam revision

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Preparation for and participation in a range of activities during seminars, unassessed presentations

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
Essay1x 4000 word essay due by 12 noon Monday of Exam Week 160.00
Presentation20 minute presentation to include a PowerPoint, handout and script (2000 words max) - to be delivered as instructed by tutor40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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: 30/04/2019


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