HI7015 - Britain's Empires: Imperialism and Resistance in the Modern World

What will I learn on this module?

You will consider the British imperial experience from colonial expansion of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to anti-imperialism and decolonisation in the twentieth century. You will also explore the British Empire’s relationship with the other modern European empires. The approach is largely thematic. After an introductory week that explores the ways in which scholars have studied and theorised empire, you will move on to consider the British Empire’s changing character through an exploration of several broad themes. In addition to examining the British Empire’s relationship with racial, religious, and cultural difference; you will also consider how peoples and places were settled and subjugated, how the empire was organised politically and economically, and how the empire legitimated itself. You will also explore how the British Empire had a transformative impact on the movement of people across the world. Each theme connects to a common set of questions: What motors drove imperial expansion? How was the empire organised politically, and how did the British Empire deal with ethnic minorities, religious diversity, and cultural difference? How peoples and places were subjugated? Was every conquered group deemed capable of assimilation? How did people resist colonial rule? The second half of the module compares the British imperial experience with those of the Ottomans and America. You will consider how these different empires interacted, whether the British imperial experience was distinct, and whether these other empires dealt with religion, race and cultural difference in the same way as the British.

How will I learn on this module?

The module will be delivered through weekly seminars that last two hours or online activities and discussion boards which provide the equivalent experience for distance learning. These seminars/online activities will act as a discussion forum for assigned readings and subject analysis. Given the emphasis on student-centred learning in postgraduate education, the sessions will be organized by the tutor to stimulate student interaction, but the expectations are that tutors will be the moderators of the discussions, not the facilitator. The seminars will feature contributions from other academics at Northumbria University who work on themes connected to modern empire. The seminar programme will feature clearly identified and focused essential reading to be undertaken by students in preparation for seminars (based around recommended historiographical readings). Student discussion will also be focused around a set of primary documents that will be provided for each week. You will be expected to prepare for the weekly seminars by undertaking essential and recommended reading, and 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 eLP (Blackboard) to enable participation within the module. You will participate in formative assessment activities and receive feedback, and will be responsible for your own guided and independent learning. Summative assessment matches your learning against the learning outcomes for the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be supported through engagement with your peers, academic tutors, and programme leaders. Academic support is provided through group/individual tutorials which allow specific issues to be addressed and to promote progress in academic development. The module tutor will be accessible within publicised office hours and 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 and resources available on the eLearning Portal. Formative feedback will be on-going 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. Have an understanding of the concepts and theories that have guided the study of the development of British overseas expansion and modern empire more generally.

2. Demonstrate knowledge of the key themes in British imperial history.

3. To have an understanding of how the British imperial experience compared, and diverged, from the imperial history of other modern states.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
4. Ability to read and analyse primary and secondary sources and to place them within their wider historical and historiographical context.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Demonstrate an awareness of how empire has persisted into the post-colonial present, and show a nuanced understanding of how imperial attitudes have continued to shape attitudes to race, foreign relations, and topics such as migration.

How will I be assessed?

The assessment strategy for the module corresponds with the learning outcomes and learning and teaching strategy. The module has two summative assessments:

1. Portfolio of primary source commentaries (40%, 3,000 words)

The portfolio of reviews will include two primary source commentaries (of 1,500 words each) which are designed to establish the student’s knowledge of the key themes and concepts as well as the methodological issues at stake when we make use of primary sources. The assessment is based on the primary source documents provided in the seminars. [MLOs 1-4]

2. Essay (60%, 4,000 words)

Students will be asked to complete one essay from a selection of essay questions provided in the module guide. The essay is designed to assess the student’s written communications skills and their ability to incorporate historiographical and theoretical concepts into their writing. Students will also be encouraged to make critical use of the primary sources provided in class, as well as sources found by themselves.[MLOs 1-5]

b. Formative assessment

1. Essay Plan (Up to 1,000 words)

Students will be encouraged to produce an essay plan that will demonstrate their reading and the lines along which they intend to approach the chosen question. This is a formative piece of work that will feed into the assessed summative 4,000 word essay. The plan should include the essay’s argument, scope, and content along with key secondary works and the likely primary documents addressed within the essay.





Module abstract

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

Course info

Credits 30

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 2 years part-time
3 other options available

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

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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