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Level 4

4AAH1007 The Worlds of the British Empire, c. 1700-1960

Credit value: 30 credits
Module convenor/tutor: Professor Richard Drayton
Assessment: 1 x 3 hour examination (100%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: 20 x 1-hour lectures (weekly); 20 x 1-hour seminars (weekly)

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

Single semester version for Study Abroad students
  • 4AAH1107 Worlds of The British Empire I: The Making and Contesting of The British Empire 1700 to 1900 - semester 1 
  • 4AAH1207 Worlds of the British Empire II: Empire and After, 1880 to 1960 - semester 2

Single semester versions of the module, making the empire (semester 1) and empire and after (semester 2), are available to study abroad students only.

Assessment: 4AAH1107 & 4AAH1207: Coursework (100%), comprising: 2 x 2,500 word essays (50% each).

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

This Group I covers the history of the British empire from the early eighteenth century to the period of decolonization after the Second World War. The course examines the causes and consequences of British imperial expansion and decline, and the relationship between the ruling power and the African, American, Asian and Australasian subjects it ruled. It looks at the history of empire from a global point of view, examining the connection between the British power and the worldwide exchange of commodities, cultures and ideas in the early modern and modern periods. But students will examine the specific local worlds in which Britons and others encountered one another, investigating the extent to which the British empire was a force that accentuated cultural and economic differences as well as linking different parts of the globe. Consequently, as well as offering students a survey of the history of the British empire, the course introduces first year students to aspects of the history of the four continents not studied in other Group I modules, but which might be studied in second and third year courses – America, Africa, Australasia and Asia.

Introductory reading list

These books are ‘core textbooks’ for this module, therefore purchasing them rather than borrowing them will be of benefit to you throughout your course.

  • Phillipa Levine, The British Empire: Sunrise to Sunset (1997)
  • Sarah Stockwell, The British Empire. Themes and Perspectives (2008)
  • John Darwin, The Empire Project. The Rise and Fall of the British World System (2009)


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