HI4009 - Cultures, Empires and Ideas: Global Histories of Power and Ideology

What will I learn on this module?

This module deals with major historical concepts and questions, and it allows you to study how these took (or changed) shape in different periods and parts of the world. In Semester 1, the emphasis is on the themes of empire and civilisation. You will investigate features that may have been shared by different empires and you will consider how these sought to rule over diverse populations. Empires often claimed to be acting as ‘civilising’ forces and the module allows you to question imperial ideologies of this kind. Moreover, you consider cultural interactions, from coexistence and mutual exchange to violence and oppression.

In Semester 2, you will analyse and discuss a range of primary texts that will introduce you to particular ideas, their historical contexts and significance. You will encounter key works in the history of political thought and will thus get to analyse arguments about the meaning of the state, the nature of government and the necessity for political change. In this context, you will consider challenges to existing hierarchies and power relations, including those linked to empire, as well as the assumptions that underpinned such inequalities.

The module enables you to study historical phenomena and ideas from the ancient world to the present day. Its overall approach is global, with a geographical scope that encompasses Europe, the USA, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, the Arab World and China.

How will I learn on this module?

The module breaks down into two major parts, each of which lasts for 12 weeks: ‘Empire and Civilisation’ in Semester 1 and ‘Ideas in Context’ in Semester 2. You will attend a lecture each week, offering an introduction to the given subject.

Throughout the year, you will attend seminars (usually on a fortnightly basis). The seminar sessions are based on the discussion of core readings, with a focus on the analysis of extracts from primary sources. You will build on your independent reading by presenting your ideas and arguments in seminar discussions with your peers. All learning materials, tasks and readings will be posted on the eLearning Portal (Blackboard). You will be responsible for your own guided and independent learning but will receive feedback and further support from your seminar tutor and the module convenor. Your assessment tasks will match your learning against the defined learning outcomes of this module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be supported through your seminar tutor, the module convenor, engagement with your peers and through your programme leader. Your module tutor will offer tutorials, both for the preparation of your assignments and for feedback. In addition, you will also be able to see the seminar tutor and module convenor (for instance in the publicised feedback and consultation hours) and to raise questions via email. Your peers will provide you with a collaborative learning environment, and your programme leader will guide you through the requirements and expectations of your course. You will also be supported through individual engagement with the academic literature, lectures and resources available on the eLearning Portal. Feedback will be ongoing throughout seminar activities and through assessment tasks.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Demonstrate your conceptual skills, including your ability to locate concepts and ideas within their specific historical context.
2. Display your ability to carry out the close reading of a text, summarise its main points and evaluate its wider significance.
3. Show an ability to work on different time periods and regions.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
4. Demonstrate a capacity for close textual analysis and for communicating your thoughts via different forms of academic writing (concepts-based essay, source commentary, gobbet discussion).

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Show an engagement with themes such as cultural exchange and global encounters and other issues that are still relevant to society today.

How will I be assessed?

The assessment for this assignment
1. an essay of 1,250 words (MLO 1, 4, 5), weighted 15% of your overall grade;
2. a 1,250-word commentary on a primary source, weighted 35% of your overall grade (MLOs 1–5);
3. a 24-hour ‘open book’ gobbet exam, weighted 50% of your overall grade (MLOs 1–5).

You will have the opportunity to present your work in the seminars and will receive formative feedback from your lecturer in classroom discussions, debates, and tutorial sessions. Formative assessment through your lecturer will be written and verbal, and you will also receive feedback through engagement with your peers who will enable you to test your ideas. Feedback on your first summative assessment will allow you to improve on later ones.





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code T720

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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