The University of Southampton

HIST3163 The Long life of the Indian Mutiny 1 (1857-58): Event, Metaphor, Memory

Module Overview

This module will introduce students to the causes, events and long term consequences of the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Seen as a watershed moment in the history of the British colonialism in India, the mutiny was the consequence of long held local grievances and continued to feature in political and popular memory long after its end.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aims of this module are to: - introduce students to the history of the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58 - explore the cause and consequences of the revolt. - introduce students to the nature of the early colonial state. - trace the various scholarly interpretations of the causes, scope, local variations and short term as well as long term consequences of the events of 1857

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • the Indian Mutiny and the various scholarly interpretations of the same.
  • the nature of the East India Company state in early nineteenth century India
  • the deeply contentious place of the Indian Mutiny in British as well as Indian historical memory.
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • identify and describe the key characteristics of the Indian Mutiny
  • analyse the political, social and cultural impact of East India Company State on Indian Society
  • explain the immediate and long term consequences of the Mutiny
  • identify and assess selected approaches and methods that historians have used to study the Indian Mutiny.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • engage in a programme of independent reading guided by the module tutor
  • interpret and contextualize primary sources
  • think analytically about the material you have located and read
  • share your thoughts about your reading verbally and in writing, constructing arguments based on evidence
  • manage your own learning and your time effectively, meeting deadlines


This two semester course will be divided into three main thematic sections which will be explored in both semesters. First, through a study of the causes of the revolt, we will explore the nature and reception of the early Company state in India. The second section of the course will treat the actual events of the revolt. We will pay special attention to the local variations and sheer geographical reach of the Mutiny. The third section of the course will cover the consequences of the events of 1857. We will look at the colonial government’s response to the Mutiny, the subsequent treatment of the events of 1857 in the British press, in later nationalist rhetoric in India and the global Marxist revolutionary narratives. In this way we will explore the long life of the mutiny as a catastrophic/heroic event, a metaphor for anti-colonial popular protest or as a commonly held nationalist memory. We will look at a variety of primary sources ranging from memoirs, court documents, missionary sermons, photographs, cinema, literature and folk poetry. In the first semester, we will explore the causes of the revolt and the various scholarly interpretations of the events of 1857. We will also explore the immediate consequences of the insurrections in 1857 on British colonial policy in India and abroad. We will also traces the local history of the revolts through specific case studies that may include the events in Awadh, Jhansi, Meerut, Delhi or the Maratha principalities.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include - Tutor- and student-led seminar discussions - One-to-one essay tutorials Learning activities include - Independent reading using resources available in the library - Note-taking in seminars - Active participation in seminars Students will use reading lists provided by the module convener to guide their reading and preparation for weekly seminars. They will be expected to make contributions to seminar discussions based on their preparatory reading. Independent study and research will equip you with the subject knowledge and understanding to participate actively in the module. Presentation of findings and participation in seminar discussion will enable you to sharpen your ideas and receive constructive feedback from tutors and other students whilst developing your oral presentational skills. Preparing and writing the essay will enable you to further focus your ideas and understanding whilst developing your written communication skills. Preparation for the exam will consolidate your subject knowledge and understanding and encourage the development of good note-taking practice. The exam will also enhance your time-management skills and improve your ability to work under pressure.

Independent Study260
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Christopher Herbert (2008). War or No Pity: The Indian Mutiny and Victorian Trauma. 

Chaudhuri, Sashi Bhusan (1965). Theories of the Indian mutiny (1857-59): A study of the views of an eminent historian on the subject. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 40%
Essay  (3000 words) 40%
Take-away task 20%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

A module created by CQA

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