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Study information

Empire and Globalisation

Module titleEmpire and Globalisation
Module codeHISM482
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Marc Palen (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The relationship between the history of imperialism and modern globalisation has been a key dynamic in shaping the modern world, and an important topic for today’s historians. This module analyses the globalising forces of empire, and the extent to which the patterns and flows of globalisation today bear the trace of historical imperial dynamics. It highlights the political, economic, social and culture dynamics of imperialism and globalisation in the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries. It also investigates the darker side of globalisation’s narratives of progress and development, analysing the new geographies of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ it has informed, and the often violent resistance it has engendered.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module is designed to enhance your understanding of recurring themes in the history of empires and globalisation from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries. It will be taught by two or three different tutors, and exact thematic focus will depend on staff expertise and student choice. Through studying topics including political ideology, law, migration, violence, resistance, cultural imperialism and decolonisation, you will trace key developments in the subject, and think about these comparatively across time and space. The module will also introduce you to the approaches of different disciplines, such as economics, law, anthropology, geography and political theory. In this way you will learn to draw thematic comparisons between material from different sources, show awareness of contrasting approaches to research, and demonstrate an enhanced understanding of some of the philosophical and methodological questions arising from research into empire and globalisation.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Demonstrate a detailed understanding of key themes and issues in the history of empires and globalisation.
  • 2. Demonstrate an awareness of historiographical and theoretical debates around empires and globalisation and their role in shaping the modern world.
  • 3. Demonstrate an understanding of the nature and significance of imperialism and globalisation.
  • 4. Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of a wide selection of primary source materials and be able to evaluate their historical value critically.
  • 5. Evaluate different disciplinary perspectives on themes related to imperialism and globalisation.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 6. Synthesise and analyse widely different types of historical material and evidence.
  • 7. Identify and understand the nature of original sources.
  • 8. Demonstrate a critical understanding of key historical concepts and debates.
  • 9. Research independently and present interpretations of different historical issues.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 10. Demonstrate a capacity for independent critical study and thought.
  • 11. Apply key bibliographical skills to independent study.
  • 12. Construct and defend a sustained argument, both in written form and orally, using primary and secondary materials.
  • 13. Work as an individual and with the tutor and their peers in an independent, constructive and responsive way (e.g. lead a group discussion or task).
  • 14. Analyse, summarise and organise material to produce a coherent and cogent argument within specific deadlines

Syllabus plan

Potential seminar topics include (these will vary depending on staff expertise and student choice):

  • Introductions: Empires and Globalisation
  • Political Authority, Governance and Ideology: The Rise of Democracy?
  • The Political Economy of Empires and Globalisation
  • Migration, Labour and Diasporas
  • Cultural Imperialism and the Spread of Western Civilisation
  • Law, Development and Human Rights: Becoming ‘Human’
  • Conflict, Resistance and Violence: Globalising Warfare
  • Decolonisation and ‘Neo-Imperialism’
  • A ‘Clash of Civilisations’? Restructuring Post-Cold War Global Relations
  • Critics of Empire, Challenges to Globalisation
  • Review and Conclusions

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 teaching activities2011 x 2 hour workshops
Guided independent study280Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay Plan x 22 sides A4 maximum1-14Oral feedback in seminar and tutorial
Presentation15-20 minutes1-14Oral feedback in seminar and tutorial

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
Essay383000 word1-14Mark, written comments and oral feedback
Essay373000 word1-14Mark, written comments and oral feedback
Presentation2525 minutes1-14Mark, written comments and oral feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-14Referral/Deferral period
PresentationScript as for 25 minute presentation1-14Referral/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

  • C. A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914: Global Connections and Comparisons (Oxford, 2003).
  • J. Burbank and F. Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (Princeton, 2010).
  • P. J. Cain and A. G. Hopkins, British Imperialism 1688-2000 2nd ed. (Harlow, 2001)
  • P. Collier, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It (Oxford, 2007).
  • G. Hopkins, Globalisation in World History (London, 2002).
  • J. Darwin, After Tamarlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires (London, 2008).
  • F. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York, 1968).  
  • E. Hobsbawm, Globalisation, Democracy and Terrorism (London, 2008).
  • McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest (New York, 1995).
  • G. B. Magee and A. S. Thompson, Empire and Globalisation: Networks of People, Goods and Capital in the British World, c. 1850-1914 (Cambridge, 2010).
  • E. Said, Orientalism (London, 1978)
  • —, Culture and Imperialism (London, 1993)
  • J. Stiglitz, Globalization and its Discontents (London, 2003).  
  • L. Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (New York, 2002).
  • M. Thomas, B. Moore and L. J. Butler, Crises of Empire: Decolonization and Europe’s Imperial States, 1918-75 (London, 2008).
  • M. Thomas, Violence and Colonial Order: Police, Workers and Protest in European Colonial Empires 1918-40 (Cambridge, 2012).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources


Africa Through a Lens

British Library Images Online

British Museum Online Collection

Centre for Imperial and Global History Exeter Podcasts

Colonial Film Database

Foreign Broadcast Information Service

Global Commodities

Library of Congress Digital Collection

National Archives Online

National Library of Australia Digital Collections

Pitt Rivers Museum

Sudan Archive at Durham

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database

Visualising China

Wellcome Images

World Digital Library

Key words search

Empire, globalisation, imperialism, colonialism

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

Those of entry to the MA programme

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date