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Study information

Violence or Non-Violence? Gandhi and Popular Movements in India, 1915-1950: Context

Module titleViolence or Non-Violence? Gandhi and Popular Movements in India, 1915-1950: Context
Module codeHIH3168
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Gajendra Singh (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module will explore India's struggle for independence; the longest and most sustained anticolonial movement in history. It will examine the ideology and leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, and the equally important social, revolutionary and peasant-based movements of the period. You will be introduced to the influence of British constitutional initiatives, caste associations, political factions and prominent nationalist leaders in the independence movement. We will also discuss the part played by disparate, unorganised and, at times, violent popular and cultural movements in undermining colonial rule.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module will examine the role played by the ideology and leadership of Mahatma Gandhi in India's struggle for independence. It will, in addition, explore the neglected but equally important part played by social, revolutionary and peasant-based movements in this period. You will be introduced to new perspectives in historical writing which have contested the validity of 'official' accounts of recent Indian history – whether written from a colonialist or nationalist perspective. A study of the historiography will be combined with an analysis of various sources that can be used to produce neo-colonialist, neo-nationalist and postcolonial histories of the Indian independence movement.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Identify and analyse the complex themes in the cultural, social and political histories of the Indian independence movement
  • 2. Understand and explain the key developments within the period, developed through independent study and seminar work

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Analyse the key developments within a particular historical environment
  • 4. Comprehend and explain complex historical issues
  • 5. Understand and deploy relevant historical terminology in a comprehensible and sophisticated manner

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Select, organise and analyse material for written work and/or oral presentations of different prescribed lengths and formats.
  • 7. Present an argument in a written form in a clear and organised manner, with appropriate use of correct English
  • 8. Through essay development process, demonstrate ability to reflect critically on your own work, to respond constructively to feedback, and to implement suggestions and improve work on this basis

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:
• Gandhi in South Africa
• Gandhi on Film: Popular Representations of the Gandhi Myth
• The First World War in India: Collaboration and Revolution
• Colonial Violence and the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
• Gandhi and the Early Satyagrahas
• Khilafat and Pan-Islamism
• Non-Cooperation and Chauri Chaura
• Gandhi and Women
• Gandhi and the Untouchables
• The Impact of the Great Depression
• Civil Disobedience
• Adivasis
• Princely States
• Jawaharlal Nehru
• Subhas Chandra Bose
• Big Business and Trade Unions
• Revolutionary Nationalisms
• Communism
• Kisan Sabhas
• Regional Studies (UP, Punjab, Bengal, Gujarat, South India)
• Quit India
• Tebhaga and Telangana
• Communalism
• Partition
• Gandhi’s Legacy
• Historiography of the Subaltern
• The Freedom Struggle in Literature and Art

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching4422 x 2 hour seminars
Guided independent study256Reading and preparation for seminars, coursework and presentations

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Portfolio of two assignments70Combined total of 4000 words1-8Oral and written
Written assignment302500 words1-8Oral and written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Portfolio of 2 assignments (totalling 4000 words)Portfolio of 2 assignments (totalling 4000 words)1-8Referral/Deferral period
Written assignment (2500 words)Written assignment (2500 words)1-8Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Crispin Bates, Subalterns and Raj, A History of South Asia Since 1600, (London: Routledge, 2007).
  • Judith Brown, Modern India: The Origins of an Asian Democracy, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994 2nd edn.).
  • Judith Brown and Anthony Parel (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Gandhi, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
  • Rajnarayan Chandavarkar, Imperial Power and Popular Politics: Class, Resistance and the State in India, 1850-1950, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
  • Bipan Chandra, History of Modern India, (New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2009).
  • Ayesha Jalal and Sugata Bose, Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy, (London: Routledge, 1998).
  • William Gould, Religion and Conflict in Modern South Asia, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).
  • R.C. Mazumdar, History of the Freedom Movement in India, Vols. 1-3, (New Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 1961-1972).
  • Sumit Sarkar, Modern India, 1885-1947, (New Delhi: Macmillan, 1983).
  • Sumit Sarkar, Modern Times, 1880s-1950, (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2014).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

·      ELE –

·      South Asia Archive,

·      The 1947 Partition Archive,

·      Cinemas of India,

·      Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire,

·      The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Electronic Book), Vols. 1-98 , (New Delhi: Publications Division, Government of India, 1999),


Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • Films – Gandhi (1982); The Making of the Mahatma (1996); Lage Rao Munna Bhai (Carry on, Munna) (2006); Gandhi My Father (2007); Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar (2000); Hey Ram (2000).
  • Novels – Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children, (London: 1981); Rabindranath Tagore, The Home and the World, (1916); Rudyard Kipling, Plain Tales from the Hills, (1890); Premchand, Deliverance and Other Stories; Mulk Raj Anand, Untouchable (London: Penguin, 1st published 1935); R. K. Narayan, A Malgudi Omnibus (three novels: Swami and FriendsThe Bachelor of Arts and The English Teacher ), (London: Vintage, 1999); Saadat Hasan Manto, Mottled Dawn (Penguin, 1998).


Key words search

Violence, Non-violence, Gandhi, India

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

At least 90 credits of History at Level 1 (NQF Level Four) and/or Level 2 (NQF Level Five)

Module co-requisites

HIH3167: Violence or Non-Violence? Gandhi and Popular Movements in India, 1915-1950 (Sources)

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date