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The University of Southampton

HIST3237 Ethiopia: From Empire, through Socialism to the Federal Democratic Republic, 1755-1987, Part 2

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • The significant changes that Ethiopia experienced as an Empire from the mid-eighteenth century.
  • Ethiopia's demise as a communist state in the 20th century.
  • The emergence of the nation of Ethiopia.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Reflecting on how the history of Ethiopia up until the late eighteenth century helped to shape the modern nation.
  • Examining sources created outside of Ethiopia in English to explore external perceptions of the nation.
  • Utilise ethnographic and anthropological research methods.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analysing a range of visual and written sources.
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Consider Ethiopia's abilities to retain its indigenous cultures and beliefs alongside global structures of statecraft and technological advancement.
  • Explore and understand indigenous practices and beliefs.


Ethiopia’s long imperial history and its impenetrable terrain contributed to its isolation and the formation of a rich indigenous culture. Yet, it was this seclusion that left the great technological developments that started with the enlightenment and peaked in the 19th and 20th centuries beyond its borders. A proud people that was, due to its ancient literacy, well aware of its long history was not as well equipped to join the rapid advancement of global realities: of the advancing western empires and eventually the emergence of the nation-state.   A slow history of contact through travellers and mission did not prepare Ethiopia for what was to come. The British Magdala campaign in 1865 easily toppled Teodros II, who is still considered the great unifier of the modern Ethiopian Empire, in a matter of weeks with 12,000 well-armed troops, for which swords, spears and daggers were of no use. In 1895 when the Italians invaded the Ethiopians were better prepared. The battle of Adwa saw the Italians defeated. They returned in 1935 to occupy Ethiopia for a long cruel year, in which they employed chemical warfare and the full impact of a fascist military regime. They too were eventually rebuffed, but a heavy price was paid.   What emerged was the nation of Ethiopia that was ruled by the Emperor Haile Selassie. Its history of being un-colonised, or as some might suggest un-colonisable, made it the ideal home for the African Nations. Starting as a moderniser the emperor eventually lost his control and ceded his throne to a military socialist revolutionary regime. Ethiopia was turned upside down and inside out. Over the semester we will examine all these developments in the fascinating modern history of Ethiopia through the prisms of religion, international relations and internal politics.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Student-led seminars Individual essay tutorials

Independent Study56
Completion of assessment task100
Completion of assessment task96
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Østebø, T., Muslim Ethiopia: The Christian Legacy, Identity Politics, and Islamic Reformism, (2013). 

Keller, E., Revolutionary Ethiopia: From Empire to People's Republic, (1991). 

Henze, P., Layers of Time: A History of Ethiopia, (2000). 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Exam  (3 hours) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Exam  (3 hours) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules


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