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Assessment Topics


Due: Term 2, Week 4

Second Years: 2,000 words

Finalists: 2,500 words










Any other keyword of your choice

Using any one of the keywords listed above, conduct research on an aspect from any one or more texts read on the module. It should be something that will deepen our knowledge of Indian Ocean worlds and also shed light on connections and relations that are otherwise submerged.

You can present your research in the form of an essay, or a powerpoint presentation. If you are using the latter, make sure you include a 500 word commentary if a second year student, and a 750 word commentary if a finalist. I would also expect you to have 12-15 slides for finalists, and 10-12 for second years.

Marks will be allocated on the following basis:

Originality of idea

Depth of research

Overall argumentative/theoretical frame


First Essay Questions

Second Years: 2,000 words

Finalists: 2,500 words

Due: Term 1, Week 11

Please check Tabula for exact submission deadlines. Late submissions will incur a penalty of 5 marks per day.

Note: Please consult the Department website and/or the Student Handbook for guidance on essay submission on Tabula and penalties for exceeding the word limit and for late submission.

Essays should be presented in accordance with departmental guidelines and will be marked according to the standard departmental marking criteria.

For all bibliographic citations, primary and secondary, use the MLA Guidelines, a link to which is provided on the Department webpage for Undergraduate Studies.

Please also make note of the Departmental regulations on Plagiarism.


In questions that are framed around a quotation, you are expected to engage with the quotation to set the frame of your discussion. However, you are not obliged to incorporate that specific work in your essay or engage in any extensive contextualisation of it. Where relevant you may use further secondary criticism, but it is not compulsory for this essay.

For this first assignment, write an essay focusing on any one of the following texts:

Joseph Conrad,Typhoon

Amitav Ghosh, In An Antique Land

Abdulrazak Gurnah, By the Sea

Romesh Gunesekhara, Reef

Choose any one of the following topics. You also have the option of devising your own essay title in consultation with the module tutor.


  1. In “Indian Ocean as Method”, Isabel Hofmeyer points to the “layered and contradictory forms of sovereignty and belonging that characterizes many Indian Ocean littoral zones, drawn outward by older networks of transnational trade and inward by the demands of the postcolonial nation-state”. Write an essay on the tensions between cosmopolitanism and nationalism in any one or two texts of your choosing.


  1. Write an essay exploring the relation between the formal aspects of any one or two texts and the forms of the Indian Ocean. Does your text enable you to begin to sketch what could be characterised as 'an Indian Ocean aesthetic'?


  1. How do we apprehend the histories of colonialism and imperialism differently when we consider the Indian Ocean as opposed to the lands that were colonised? Write an essay exploring this dimension with reference to any one or two texts.


  1. Discuss the representation of the Indian Ocean as an archive of texts, languages, histories.


  1. Explore the Indian Ocean as a site of both the physical and the imaginative destruction of our environments. What perspective does an Ocean-centred view provide us in terms of urgent questions of climate catastrophe and our survival itself.