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The University of Southampton

HIST1151 World Histories: Contact, Conflict and Culture from Ancient to Modern

Module Overview

The idea of historical periods—the division of the past into blocks such as ‘the middle ages’ or ‘the modern period’—is fundamental to how historians and the general public write and think about the past. The aim of this module is to introduce you to how different historical periods are defined, and how the idea of historical periods affects the way that history is written and understood due to these basic questions and assumptions. As well as introducing these ideas, the module will also provide you with the opportunity to discuss and debate some of the most important features of these periods, including the nature of cultural contact and conflict between world civilisations, the history of empires, and dynamics of change in world histories from ‘antiquity’ to ‘the modern period’. In this way, the module will provide you with background knowledge useful throughout the rest of your degree and beyond.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • How historical periods are defined and how they affect understanding of those periods
  • How politics, economy and culture interrelate in past and present societies
  • How different world regions have influenced and affected each other
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Think critically about the practice of history
  • Understand how major interpretations of past societies evolve
  • Identify and evaluate different historical interpretations of past events
  • Understand the interplay between historical sources and interpretations of them
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use a range of perspectives in problem-solving
  • Critically analyse a diverse range of source material
  • Organise and structure material to write and present confidently
  • Participate actively in group discussions and debate
  • Communicate a coherent and convincing argument in both oral and written formats


The aim of this module is to introduce you to the way in which the past is thought of as being divided into periods, and therefore will be based around a division into five blocks, each of which will address a particular period. Each block will cover two weeks, and will include two lectures and a seminar each week. The lectures will have two main aims; to introduce you to some of the most important and influential ideas that define each period, and which distinguish it from those before and after. As such, this module does not cover static structures or ideas, but emphasises models of change, and how society, culture and politics developed in particular ways in response to particular historical contexts. The lectures will also provide context for interpreting the set texts, which will be discussed and debated in detail in the accompanying seminars. A special feature of this module is that in week 4 of the semester normal teaching will be suspended in favour of a series of lectures designed to introduce and explain to you the skills needed in preparing written work of a style suitable for a university course. This will include lectures on themes such as how you can get the most out of reading, how to use argument in an essay, how to use evidence and how to locate your essay in relation to previous work in the field. These lectures will be supported by online tutorials available via BlackBoard (the university’s e- learning site). There will also be a seminar on how to use and interpret historical writing critically, which will provide a place for thinking about and practising this essential skill. This will also provide a basis for the assessed exercise, which is built around evaluation of an influential article, so that you have an opportunity to apply these skills and receive feedback soon after they are covered.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • One-hour lectures which will introduce a topic, key primary sources and the main features of the historiography in relation to it. • Seminars focusing on the detailed reading and analysis of primary sources, accompanied by discussion of the implications of these documents and how they connect with the principal historiography and wider perceptions of the period in question. • Opportunity for individual essay consultations with seminar tutors and feedback on essay plans Learning activities include: • Analysis of selected key readings in the historiography • Preparatory reading and individual study • Individual participation in seminars and group work on seminar themes • Group presentations at the end of the module Discussion in seminars will help you to develop your ideas on a topic, to analyse a range of source material and to articulate a critical argument. Such discussions will also allow you to reflect on the historiography and on broader attitudes towards the period in question.

Completion of assessment task64
Preparation for scheduled sessions200
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Odd Arne Westad (2000). The new international history of the Cold War: three (possible) paradigms. Diplomatic History. .

Johann Huizinga (1924). The Waning of the Middle Ages. 

Odd Arne Westad (2005). The Global Cold War: third world interventions and the making of our time. 

Samuel Huntington (1996). The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order. 

J.M. Brown (1995). Modern India: The Origins of an Asian Democracy. 

R. I. Moore (2007). The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Power and Deviance in Western Europe, 950- 1250. 

Richard Reid (2009). A History of Modern Africa. 

Robert Bartlett (1993). The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change, 950-1350. 

F. Braudel (1983). The Wheels of Commerce: Civilisation and Capitalism, 15th to 18th Century, trans. S. Reynolds, vol. 2. 

Q Skinner (2002). Visions of Politics: Volume 2 Renaissance Virtues. 

N Zemon-Davis (1983). The Return of Martin Guerre. 

C. Ginzburg (1980). The Cheese and the Worms: the Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller, trans. J. and A. Tedechi. 

M E. Wiesner-Hanks (2006). Early Modern Europe, 1450-1789. 

Karen Ordahl Kupperman. Indians and English: Facing Off in Early America. 

David Reynolds (2001). One World Divisible: A Global History since 1945. 

Fred Donner (2010). Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam. 

Francis Fukuyama (1992). The End of History and the Last Man. 

James VanderKam (2001). An introduction to early Judaism. 

Daniel K. Richter (2001). Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America. 

Philip Lawson (1993). The East India Company: A History. 

E. Duffy (2001). The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village. 

Margaret Mitchell (2006). The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 1: Origins to Constantine. 

R W. Southern (1953). The Making of the Middle Ages. 

R. N. Swanson (1999). The Twelfth-Century Renaissance. 

James Lehning (2013). European Colonialism since 1700. 

Martin Goodman (1997). The Roman world, 44 BC-AD 180. 

M. D. W. Jones (1995). The Counter Reformation: Religion and Society in Early Modern Europe. 

Tom McCaskie (1999). Cultural encounters: Britain and Africa in the nineteenth century. Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume III – The Nineteenth Century. , pp. 665-89.

Richard Stites (2009). Revolutionary Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution. 

P. J. Marshall (1998). Britain without America – A Second Empire?. Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume II – The Eighteenth Century. , pp. 576–95.

Julia Smith (2007). Europe after Rome. 


Assessment Strategy

The links between assessment methods and learning outcome are as follows: The essays will draw on the period blocks, and you will have a choice of titles relating to individual blocks. They will relate to one or more of the key texts discussed in the seminars, and will draw on the broader contextual background given in the lectures. The written evaluation of a journal article will draw on the discussions in the seminar during skills week, which will help you to follow the most effective strategies for critical reading. This will involve talking about themes such as how to find the argument in an article, how to work out how an author relates his or her work to previous historiography, or how to establish the original contribution of an article. The final assessment will comprise a group oral presentation, in which five or six students will offer a ten-minute presentation looking at a major theme across the periods (for example: ‘Are there patterns in how elites define themselves across periods?’, ‘Is the story of religious influence one of simple decline?’). By its nature, this will involve integrating material from across many of the lectures. This will allow you to practise your formal presentational skills (as opposed to your skills in discussion and debate exercised through the seminars), and to provide an opportunity to ask questions cutting across the period blocks. Groups for these presentations will be assigned by your seminar tutor.


MethodPercentage contribution
Critical review  (1000 words) 25%
Critical review  (1000 words) 25%
Critical review  (1000 words) 25%
Group presentation  (10 minutes) 25%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework %

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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