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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST1510 Global Empires

20 creditsClass Size: 150

Module manager: Professor Stephen Alford

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Empires have profoundly shaped global history. They underpinned the political and economic power of imperial nations like Great Britain and France, and they also shaped social and political dynamics in colonies like India, Algeria, or Kenya. This module explores the rise of different empires during the early modern and modern periods. It examines how and why empires were formed and what their impacts were on societies that were colonized. Equally, it explores how local populations reacted to imperial expansion. Finally, the module considers how imperialism shaped different social, political, and economic categories, ideas of race and gender, and mobilized new forms of resistance.


This module explores how empires have shaped regional and global dynamics in early modern and modern history. It will introduce students to key themes in the history of imperial expansion and investigate these in the context of a number of case studies.
The module explores:
• How and why empires formed
• Empires’ political, economic, social, and cultural impacts on colonies and imperial centres of power
• Ways of thinking comparatively about different empires and colonies

Learning outcomes
1. Demonstrate an understanding of processes of imperial power and diverse impacts of empires on societies across the world.
2. Recognise different historical arguments about the nature of empires and how imperial historiography has developed over time.
3. Appreciate the range, value, and challenges of a selection of primary sources from individuals and groups involved in empire.
4. Demonstrate a familiarity with a critical vocabulary for analysing the history of empires and processes of change.
5. Present a structured and coherent analysis based on appropriate and relevant historical sources in assignments set by tutors.
6. Apply fundamental standards and practices of historical study for research, discussion and assessed work.


Lectures and seminars will be delivered around a thematic approach to the history of empires, with case studies providing the means for broad themes to be applied within a clearly defined chronological and geographical range.
Six to eight weeks of the module will be devoted to thematic sessions. Topics may include:
• Defining empires: what, who, when and where?
• Imperial power: conquest, violence and resistance
• The economics of empire: engines for modernity or the means of exploitation?
• Movement and migration: settlers, expats, migrants and refugees
• Cultures of empire: knowledge, discourse and the making of difference
• Intimate empires: gender, sexuality and the family
• Environment and empire: nature, climate, and animal histories
• Comparative insights and the legacies of empire for the contemporary world
Two or three weeks will be devoted to investigating key case studies. These will reflect staff expertise and may include:
• The Spanish Empire
• The British Empire in the Atlantic
• The Mughal Empire
• The Russian Empire
• The French Empire in Southeast Asia and North Africa
• The British Empire in South Asia and Africa
• The American Empire
• The Japanese Empire

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- Undertaking core reading and other activities in preparation for seminars: 55 hours
- Reviewing and consolidating notes on lectures: 22 hours
- Identifying gaps in their knowledge and self-directed reading to address these: 22 hours
- Researching, preparing, and writing assignments: 75 hours
- Reflecting on feedback and implementing suggestions in future assignments: 4 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

1 x 750-word book/article review, for which written feedback will be provided to help students prepare the primary source commentary and essay. Students will have the opportunity to discuss their feedback in a one-to-one meeting.
3 x 500-word primary source primary source commentaries, for which written feedback will be provided to help students prepare the essay.
1 x 2,500-word essay, for which written feedback will be provided.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,500 word essay due in Exam Week 160.00
Assignment3 x 500 word primary source commentary due in Week 940.00
Literature Review750-word book/article review due in Week 60.00
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: 14/12/2022


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