Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PIED1212 Making of the Modern World

20 creditsClass Size: 320

Module manager: Dr Jorg Wiegratz

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Module replaces

PIED 1211 Making of the Global South

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The module examines the socio-economic and political effects of colonialism, the slave trade and capitalist industrialisation on the making of the contemporary world, including the current divide between the Global North and Global South. It analyses the history of colonial expansion, domination and exploitation, resistance to colonial rule, the attraction of socialism to post-independent governments, and explores the legacies of colonial rule across the Americas, Africa and Asia as well as recent efforts to address some of these legacies. The module explores key features of the process of the making the modern world and its corresponding global political economy, and explores similarities and differences between past and present regarding some of these features. Students will be introduced to some of the relevant key concepts in social sciences to further the analysis.


To examine the political, economic and socio-cultural dynamics of colonialism and to explore the role that colonialism in the Americas, Africa and Asia played in the making of the modern world. A particular link will be made between the expansion of colonialism, the dynamics of the transatlantic slave trade and the development of industrialisation in Europe.
The module also pays attention to the responses to colonialism from peoples in the global south, explores the continuing legacies of colonialism and scrutinises some of the recent efforts to address the North-South gap (e.g. via Fair Trade or Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives). The module introduces key features of the making of today’s world, including the role of domination, subordination and violence in the processes of economic surplus production and appropriation and the resultant demand for political-economic and social change, justice, and emancipation throughout the modern period. Students are introduced to similarities and differences regarding some of these key features of the global political economy during the colonial and the contemporary period, e.g. the issue of forced labour. The module is based on the premise that colonialism, slavery and the expansion of capitalism had profound effects on the formation of the modern world and that this historical knowledge is necessary for an understanding of its contemporary condition.

Learning outcomes
- to have an appreciation of the historical factors underlying differences in levels of social and economic development between countries in the industrialised 'North' and those in the newly industrialised/developing 'South';
- be familiar with the processes of subordination and domination which facilitated both the expansion of European industrialisation and the incorporation of colonised regions into the emerging world capitalist economy;
- understand the relationship between colonialism and the development of capitalism;
- understand the various legacies of colonialism;
- understand the role of power asymmetries, theft, and violence in the making of wealth and poverty;
- understand key political-economic structures, dynamics and tensions of the modern world.


- Intro: Colonialism, capitalism, development
- The Americas before and after European arrival
- The Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery in the Americas
- India - from the British East India Company to the Raj
- The Scramble for Africa
- Colonialism and Gender Relations
- Impact of Colonialism on Land
- Anti-colonialism and Independence
- Post-independence and Socialism in the South
- Colonial legacies and the contemporary South
- Latest developments in the North-South relationship

The module briefly reviews the pre-colonial social formations and then analyses the impact of the slave trade and of processes of colonialism upon them in the Americas, India and Africa. Especially, it examines the impact of colonialism on land, labour, gender relationships and political-economic structures, and investigates processes of resistance to colonialism, the struggles for independence and emergence of neo-colonialism. Persistent features of colonialism will be examined that will include links between racism and colonialism; the role of the state in development and the patterns of resource and surplus extraction from the South in the making and reproduction of the modern world. Recent shifts and trends in the global political economy that to some extent address certain legacies of the colonial era will be analysed towards the end of the module.

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 hours167.00
Total Contact hours33.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

The extra lecture each week will be used to extend the analysis; teach; introduce and discuss suitable concepts; and have student pair and group discussions in the lecture theatre. Short video material will also be analysed regularly. Students will read and research in preparation for their seminars and assessments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Seminar discussions and presentations will be centred around student participation, ensuring they have grasped the week’s issues and clarifying any misunderstandings. This will also be a space for students to practice the presentation of ideas and arguments to their fellow students and feeding back to class the literature they have covered. They will write a mid-term comparative essay, comparing historical and current phenomena (e.g. forced labour) and an end of term exam. They will also be introduced to the use of alternative communication and presentation formats, such as the use of posters, for example, which will be peer assessed which serves as a way to practice such methods in a non-assessed context. Students will also have the opportunity to submit a 1500 word formative version of the end of term essay

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 2000 word essay- end of term100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Students will also have the opportunity to submit a shorter 1500 word formative version of the essay (non assessed)

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 11:55:10


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019