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Study information

Critical Approaches to Imperial and Global History

Module titleCritical Approaches to Imperial and Global History
Module codeHISM003
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Professor James Mark (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The interconnected fields of imperial and global history constitute a particularly vibrant area of academic research. This module introduces you to key methodological and analytical approaches scholars have taken to studying colonial, imperial and global history. Drawing on the expertise of the Exeter Centre for Imperial and Global History, the module will examine a range of important themes and debates within imperial and global history, including coercion and resistance in imperial rule, processes of globalisation, gender and sexuality, postcolonialism, theories of decolonisation, and neo-imperialism.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to introduce you to key themes, methods and analytical frameworks in the study of imperial and global history. It will enable you to think critically about key methods and techniques used by historians – and scholars in related disciplines – to analyse and interpret issues of imperialism and globalisation. It will give you the skills necessary to review scholarly books and articles in imperial and global history, and to produce critical writing assessing key themes, approaches and methods.

The module draws on, and introduces you to, the expertise of the Centre for Imperial and Global History (CIGH) at the University of Exeter. As such, the exact content of the module will vary each year to reflect the expertise of members of the CIGH. Geographical areas covered may include, but are not limited to: the British Empire; the American Empire; the Mughal Empire; the Chinese Empire; the French Empire; the Soviet Empire.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Understand and evaluate the main themes and approaches in the study of imperial and global history
  • 2. Possess detailed knowledge of the key historiographical and theoretical debates informing the study of imperial and global history
  • 3. Assess critically the role of primary sources in informing the study of imperial and global history

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Analyse and synthesise different types of historical material and evidence
  • 5. Demonstrate a critical understanding of key historical concepts and debates, and recognise the differences between different approaches and source types
  • 6. Develop practical research skills in the primary and secondary evidence

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 7. Demonstrate capacity for independent critical research, study and thought, including developing the ability to construct and defend a sustained argument, both in written form and orally, using primary and secondary materials
  • 8. Work as an individual and with a tutor and peers in an independent, constructive and responsive way
  • 9. Apply key bibliographical skills to independent study

Syllabus plan

The course will be taught primarily through weekly seminars, each of which will focus on key themes and approaches to imperial and global history. The precise topics and approaches examined in these seminars will vary each year, and will reflect expertise of the Centre for Imperial and Global History at Exeter.

Seminar topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Political Economies of Empire
  • Empire at Home
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Violence, Collaboration, and Resistance
  • Rhetoric and Colonial Discourses
  • Decolonisation and Neo-imperialisms
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Migration, Diaspora and Networks
  • Humanitarianism and Development
  • Orientalism
  • Subaltern Studies
  • Postcolonialism
  • Transnational and Global Histories
  • Dependency & World Systems Theories
  • Anthropology and Ethnography
  • Colonial Knowledge
  • Colonial Science, Technology and Medicine
  • Exhibition and Museum Culture
  • Theories of the Imperial/Colonial State

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 teaching20Seminars (10 x 2 hours)
Guided independent study280Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan2 sides A4 maximum1-9Oral and written

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
Book review332000 words1-9Oral and written
Essay674000 words1-9Oral and written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Book review (2000 words)331-9Referral/Deferral period.
Essay (4000 words)671-9Referral/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 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • John Darwin, After Tamarlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires (London, 2008).
  • Stephen Howe, Empire: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: OUP, 2002).
  • C. A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914: Global Connections and Comparisons (Oxford, 2003).
  • Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (Princeton, 2010).
  • Michael Doyle, Empires (Cornell UP, 1986).
  • Herfried Münkler, Empires: The Logic of World Domination from Ancient Rome to the United States (Cambridge: Polity, 2007).
  • Emily Rosenberg (ed.), A World Connecting, 1870-1945: A History of the World (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2012).
  • Antoinette Burton, Dwelling in the Archive: Women Writing House, Home, and History in Late Colonial India (Oxford: OUP, 2003).
  • Antoinette Burton, Empire in Question: Reading, Writing and Teaching British Imperialism, (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2011).
  • Ann Laura Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (Berkeley and Los Angeles: California University Press, 2002).
  • Jennifer Cole, Forget Colonialism: Sacrifice and the Art of Memory in Madagascar (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001).
  • Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 2004).
  • Edward Said, Orientalism (1978).
  • Frantz Fanon, Black Skins, White Masks (1952).
  • Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (Washington: Howard University Press, 1981).
  • Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony (Berkeley: University of California, 2001).
  • Frederick Cooper, 'What is the Concept of Globalization Good for? An African Historian's Perspective,' African Affairs, Vol. 100, No. 39 (2001), pp.189-213.
  • Frederick Cooper, Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History (Berkeley; University of Californai Press, 2005).
  • David Arnold, Colonizing the Body: State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in Nineteenth-Century India (Berkeley; LA; London: University of California Press, 1993).
  • Akhil Gupta, ‘Blurred Boundaries: The Discourse of Corruption, the Culture of Politics, and the Imagined State’, American Ethnologist, Vol. 22, No. 2 (May, 1995), pp. 375-402.
  • Michael Barnett, Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism (2011).
  • Tim Barringer and Tom Flynn, eds., Colonialism and the Object: Empire, Material Culture and the Museum (1998).
  • Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).
  • Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995).
  • R C Dutt, The Economic History of India (London: Routledge and Keegan Paul, 1906).
  • Ranajit Guha & Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (eds.), Selected Subaltern Studies (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1988).
  • James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Imperialism, globalisation, imperial history, global history, historiography

Credit value30
Module ECTS


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