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Investigating the Colonial Past of King’s College London

Key information

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Module description

Investigating King's Colonial Past is an innovation module aimed at students who want to explore and open up conversations around the historic association between universities and empire and racial injustice, using King’s College London as a case study. It is open to students of different disciplinary backgrounds. You do not need to have studied history before; over the course of the module, you will learn the skills to become a historian (or, at least, a historian-in-training).

Recent years have seen increasing recognition of the roles played by universities in creating and perpetuating racism and other forms of inequality. This recognition has inspired various initiatives, from attempts to remove the material legacies of empire from university campuses, to investigations into the legacies of slavery and colonialism, to efforts at decolonising the curriculum. History is a powerful weapon in these campaigns. It reveals how particular individuals won the power to marginalise others, and to shape knowledge, politics, society and the economy. It also shows the complex ways people resisted and reframed dominant forms of power.

This module offers students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds the opportunity to participate in historical research aimed at exploring and exposing associations between King’s College London, empire, race and other forms of power. No background knowledge of history is required. Possible areas of investigation include the colonial connections and racial perspectives of powerful individuals who shaped the history of King’s; the histories and experiences of diverse members of the King’s community; and the institutional acquisition and use of certain museum objects and documents. Students will communicate their findings to diverse audiences within King’s, and will be able to contribute to discussions and reflections on the institution’s past, present and potential future.

Assessment details

Poster (30%)

1 x 2,500 word essay (70%)

Teaching pattern

10 x 2-hour seminars (weekly)

Subject areas


Module description disclaimer

King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to-date, innovative and relevant programmes of study. Therefore, modules offered may change. We suggest you keep an eye on the course finder on our website for updates.

Please note that modules with a practical component will be capped due to educational requirements, which may mean that we cannot guarantee a place to all students who elect to study this module.

Please note that the module descriptions above are related to the current academic year and are subject to change.