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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST2315 Mughals, Merchants and Mercenaries: 'Company Raj' in India 1600-1857

20 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Prof. Andrea Major

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

In 1600 the East India Company was granted a royal charter to trade with the countries of the eastern hemisphere. In 1858, in the wake of the bloody Indian Uprising of 1857, it handed control of a subcontinent to the British crown. This course explores how a trading company was able to gain direct control of three fifths of the Indian subcontinent and indirect influence over the remainder. It will introduce students to precolonial Indian society and the Mughal Empire, before going on to look at the causes of the fragmentation and regionalisation in existing political authority that allowed the East India Company first to trade with and then to expand its administrative and political control over India.It will explore the nature and functioning of the early colonial state in India, shifting colonial ideologies and the processes by which British traders and administrators sought to understand, represent, control and reshape their new Indian possessions. Students will be encouraged to explore both British and Indian experiences of colonialism in this period and to apply subaltern and postcolonial theoretical perspectives to the study of India's pre-colonial and early colonial history.Content note: this module deals with themes relating to the expansion of and attitudes to empire in India and touches on a range of issues relating to race, gender, and colonial violence that you may find difficult. These include eighteenth and nineteenth-century ideas about race, including racist language and ideas, slavery, gendered and sexual violence, colonial violence, and mortality. This content will be flagged to you as the module progresses, and the tutor can provide more information if required.


The aim of this module is to enable students to gain
1. A detailed understanding of pre-colonial Indian society, including its people, institutions and politics.
2. Analytical knowledge of principal events, causes and consequences of the decline of Mughal power in India and the rise of British colonial rule.
3. The ability to assess the nature of colonial rule in India and its impact on Indian society.
4. Explanations of changing colonial ideologies, the place of India in the emerging British Empire and the impact of colonialism in Indian and Britain.
5. Analytical knowledge of British attitudes to and representations of Indian society and an appreciation of the theoretical and methodological issues related to using colonial sources.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will have:
1. Demonstrated a detailed knowledge of the history of Mughal decline and British expansion in India for the period 1600-1857.
2. Shown ability in applying subalternist, postcolonial and other relevant theoretical and methodological perspectives to the study of early colonial Indian history.
3. Analysed and interpreted primary evidence and analysed and critiqued historiography.
4. Presented well-supported historical arguments


The following topics are indicative.
1. The nature of pre-colonial Indian society and the Mughal state.
2. The causes of Mughal decline and East India Company expansion in India.
3. The nature of early Company rule and the problems of understanding, controlling and representing India.
4. The impact of changing imperial ideologies, evangelicalism and the 'civilising mission'
5. The causes and meanings of the Indian Uprising of 1857

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours179.00
Total Contact hours21.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Private study consists primarily in directed reading as set out in the module handbook. Students undertake this reading in order to: 1. To prepare for each seminar (50 hours); 2. To research their blog posts (64.5 hours); 3. To prepare their essays (64.5 hours)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be monitored throughout the course on class participation. They will have the opportunity to produce an unassessed blog post if they wish, in order to receive formative feedback on the content and format.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1x2500 word essay50.00
AssignmentA blog post exercise consisting of 3 x blog posts of 750 words each50.00
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: 29/04/2024 16:15:05


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