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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST1510 Global Empires

20 creditsClass Size: 150

Module manager: Professor Andrea Major

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

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
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following learning outcomes relevant to the subject:
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.

Skills Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following skills learning outcomes:
5. Construct a structured and coherent argument based on appropriate selection and use of evidence.
6. Communicate your ideas in ways that are appropriate to the discipline, and apply fundamental standards and practices in terms of academic rigour.


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:
- Empires in Asia (e.g. Mughal Empire)
- Empires of South and Central America (e.g. Aztec Empire)
- The Spanish Empire
- The British Empire in the Atlantic
- The British Empire in South Asia and Africa
- The French Empire in Southeast Asia and North Africa
- The Russian, American and/or Japanese Empires

Teaching methods

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

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

This module will include one formative assignment, which takes the form of a 500-word 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. This exercise will require students to develop skills necessary for both the primary source analysis and the essay, including: for the source analysis, how other scholars handle primary sources, how to read content carefully and critically, and how to contextualise this content; for the essay, how to engage with and reflect upon different historical arguments; for both, how to develop their own analysis and writing skills (subject specific LO 2 and 4; skills learning outcomes 5 and 6). Students will also receive written feedback on the 2 x 750-word primary source primary source commentaries, which will feed into the 2,500-word essay (in which the critical use of primary sources as evidence plays a part).

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
EssayEssay- 1,500 words60.00
Assignment2 x 500-word primary source commentary40.00
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: 27/03/2024


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