The World on the Move 1650-1800: Globalisation before the Steamship - HY31040

Quick Facts

  • Level 3
  • 30 Credits
  • Semester 2
  • 24 places
  • History - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 50% Examination 50%

Module Details

We all know that we live in a globalised world: we get our Italian coffee from an American chain, wear Japanese-designed clothing that was made in India, keep pets that once only lived in South America or Australia, travel half across the world for holidays or meetings, and keep in touch via communications equipment that was probably made in China.  We know dances from Korea and Argentina, football stars from Brazil, and mourn when an iconic South African leader dies.  What happens in one corner of the world immediately affects us all, be that linked to investment, industrial production, and trade, or to diseases, wars, and natural disasters.

We often think of that as a purely modern phenomenon, or at least as something that only rose in the age of empire, steamboats and railways, but the exciting new discipline of global history has been uncovering global connections much longer standing than that.

What would it have been like to consume truly global goods such as Chinese tea, American cocoa and tobacco, and Oriental coffee when they arrived in Europe for the first time?  When did Indian and Thai curries start to include the newly-discovered South American ingredients of chilli peppers and peanuts?  How did people find out about exciting new foods, fashions, animals, and medicines from the other side of the globe?  What was it like to be forced to travel huge distances across the Ocean to end up a slave in the Caribbean or a prisoner in Australia?  How did religions or ideas such as equality, liberty, and justice spread across the world?  How did the global connections of the early modern world shape our world today?  This module will help you find out for yourself.

Key Themes:

  • things (sugar, tea, coffee, chocolate, spices, clothes, porcelain)
  • people (slaves, captives, travellers, migrants, and refugees)
  • technology (new knowledge, new foodstuffs, and new industries)
  • ideas (religion and revolution)


Dr Felicia Gottmann


This module will consist of a series of 11 weekly lectures and 11 weekly two-hour student-led seminars.


This module is assessed as follows:

  • Coursework (50%) [Source Analysis (20%) and Essay of 3,000 words due end of the Semester (30%)]
  • Two hour Examination (50%)


Please see module convenor.

Access the online reading list system

Module Aims

The aims of this module will give students the confidence to engage in global history themselves by focussing on different approaches to the study of early modern global connections, including economic history, biography, material culture, and intellectual history.  It will provide students with the practical tools to tackle global history as a discipline.  Students will study the functioning and impact of early modern globalisation from both macro and micro-historical perspectives.

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

  • What is global history and how can we study it?
  • What is 'globalisation' and is this a purely modern phenomenon?  How connected was the early modern world?
  • What was the role of infrastructure, communication, empire, trade, consumption, religion, ideology, and science in forging and maintaining global connections?
  • How did such connections impact on everyday lives around the globe?


  • Information management skills (dealing with large amounts of factual information, sorting it, and being able to use it to construct and argument)
  • Critical thinking skills (understanding and contrasting different points of view and historiographical traditions)
  • Written presentation
  • Oral presentation