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Themes & Approaches to the Historical Study of Empire (HI995)

Convenor: Dr Guido van Meersbergen

Empires, as plural polities linking and incorporating a variety of peoples and territories in unequal relationships of power and subjection, have shaped much of human history across the globe from the ancient world to the present. This spring term module introduces students to the study of empire in the early modern and modern periods, following a thematic approach that highlights the different themes in the history of empire that scholars have focused on and the variety of methods and perspectives they have adopted. In weekly seminars, students will reflect on and engage with historiographical approaches to empire as a global and trans-historical phenomenon with profound historical effects and lasting consequences for contemporary politics, society, culture, and economics. It is open to all MA students and may particularly appeal to those focusing on global history.

Module Aims

To widen and deepen students’ understanding of themes in the study of empire in history across chronological periods and geographical areas; to help students develop a conceptual and practical understanding of the skills of an historian of empire; to help students hone their ability to formulate and achieve a piece of critical and reflective historiographical writing; to support students in developing the ability to undertake critical analysis; to help students develop the ability to formulate and test concepts and hypotheses.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be able to demonstrate a conceptual and practical understanding of the skills of an historian of empire; demonstrate the ability to formulate and achieve a piece of critical and reflective historiographical writing; demonstrate the ability to undertake critical analysis; demonstrate the ability to formulate and test concepts and hypotheses.

Assessment

One 6000-word assessed essay, to be submitted via Tabula. Deadline: Term 3, Week 1 (Wednesday 28 April, 12:00).

This essay can explore any aspect of the module. You are encouraged to formulate your own essay question, which may be based on one of the weekly seminar questions, in consultation with the module convenor and/or one of the seminar tutors. The purpose of the essay is for you to engage with the major concepts discussed in the module in a broad way. This means that we expect you to read beyond the required reading, and use these further secondary sources to expand on our class discussion. Primary research may be incorporated but is not required as part of this essay. Rather, what we are looking for are compelling arguments in answer to the question, which demonstrate sophisticated, thoughtful, and original reflections on the ways in which historians have written and continue to write on the history of empire. Please consult the marking criteria for further detail.

Outline Syllabus
Talis Aspire Reading List
Illustrative Bibliography
Tutors: Prof Maxine Berg, Prof Susan Carruthers, Dr Rebecca Crites, Dr Guillemette Crouzet, Dr Tom Lowman, Dr Guido van Meersbergen, Dr Simon Peplow, Dr Aditya Sarkar
Term: Spring Term
Day: Wednesday
Time: 09:00-11:00
Room: Online via Teams (weeks 1-5) and Panorama 2 (weeks 7-10), unless otherwise notified

Any reschedules will be noted in the Outline Syllabus