Imperialism and Decolonisation 1850-2000 module (HY21004)

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Module code



European imperialism and subsequently decolonisation of the empires has profoundly shaped the modern world and the legacies of imperialism are still clearly visible around the globe. This module will focus mainly on British imperialism and subsequent decolonisation in Asia and Africa. In addition it will explore the empires of continental European nations. It will assess some of the differences in the structures of colonial rule and the processes of decolonisation, focussing on a range of themes that will include ideologies of race, cultural imperialism and anti-colonial nationalism. Finally, it will assess the liberation movements in the colonies and the deep and enduring impacts of imperialism in the contemporary world.


This module is assessed as follows:

  • Essay (45%)
  • Historiography exercise (40%)
  • Presentation (15%) 

Module Aims

  • To introduce students broadly to the theories, historiographies and structures of modern imperialisms
  • To expand awareness of anti-imperial movements in the modern world
  • To enable the analysis of formal and informal networks of power in the modern world
  • To provide a spectrum of perspectives from which to analyse differing normative values and everyday praxis of imperial rule.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:

  • Critically analyse the concepts and historiography of imperialism.
  • Identify and distinguish between the structures and ideologies of different modern empires.
  • Research and formulate an argument from a critical perspective, by analysing differing historians’ texts and methodologies and providing their own opinions on the same.
  • Develop an ability to work creatively as well as analytically and produce outputs collectively as part of a group as well as individually.

Indicative Content

  • Types of Imperialisms/Historiographical debates
  • From Trade to Competition and Conquest: South and South-east Asia
  • British India
  • Scramble for Africa
  • Empire/s and the Great War
  • Decolonisation in Asia
  • Decolonisation in Africa
  • Informal Empires : USA in Latin America
  • USSR and its Imperialist Ambitions
  • Legacies of Imperialism