Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

HIST6096 Imperialism and Decolonisation

Module Overview

Why did some indigenous populations resist Imperial Rule, while others collaborated with it? Can we talk of an imperial era of globalisation? How much did Empire impact on the forging of European identities? How can we account for the rapid winding up of European Empire in the two decades after the Second World War? How can nationalist struggle be understood in a global historical perspective? What has been the long term legacy of decolonisation? These are some of the questions which this module explores. It focuses primarily on the British imperial experience in its use of Indian case study material.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • The processes of British late Nineteenth Century Imperial expansion and of the end of the British Empire in the post 1945 era
  • The major historical explanations for the ‘New Imperialism’ and Decolonisation
  • The variety of strategies employed in both imperial control and nationalist resistance.
  • Selected texts produced in the course of anti-colonial resistance
  • The changing international context for Empire arising from the Second World War and its aftermath
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate advanced research skills in terms of the ability to engage with theoretical and historiographical debate
  • Critically engage with a wide range of secondary and especially primary source material
  • Reveal in both seminar presentations and the final assignment the level of interpretation, writing and communication skills appropriate to postgraduate study
  • Reveal elements of continuity and change in attitudes to Empire in Britain
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Work independently, drawing upon advanced research skills relating to the gathering of material, its analysis and synthesis.
  • Display effective time management in terms of research and writing tasks.
  • Organise and communicate ideas in both written and oral forms through seminar participation.
  • Engage in project solving in small group work activities.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Research and organise large amounts of historical material


The aim of the module is to examine both the processes of late Nineteenth-Century British colonial expansion and of decolonisation which followed the Second World War. Its first part focuses on the general features and causes of British imperial expansion. This is followed by an analysis of the variety of colonial administrations, policies and experiences. The examination is primarily centred on the British Empire, but comparative insights are drawn from the French, Belgian and Dutch Empires. Part two goes on to explore the rise of opposition to Imperial rule in the Indian subcontinent and Africa. Comparative insights are again provided from other imperial situations. Finally, the module looks at the processes of decolonisation by concentrating on a series of case studies. These are drawn up to encourage reflection on the variety of experiences and to address such themes as the impact of the Second World War on decolonisation, the circumstances in which decolonisation was accompanied by violence and the roles of nationalist, international and metropolitan pressures for decolonisation. Again comparative insights are drawn from episodes of European decolonisation, while the focus is primarily on the British experience. The historical narrative throughout the module is related to relevant theoretical debates. The unit also looks beyond purely political and diplomatic themes to discuss the cultural influences and responses arising from imperialism and decolonisation.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Seminars, workshops, presentations • Small group project activities • Individual tuition Learning activities include • Preparation for weekly seminars by reading and interpreting a variety of sources • Delivering class presentations and engaging with tutors and other postgraduates • Small scale project work involving group activities • Individual study for summative essay assignment

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

J.M. Brown (1994). Modern India: The Origins of an Asian Democracy. 

I. Talbot and G. Singh (2009). The Partition of India. 

J.A. Hobson (1938). Imperialism: A Study. 

A. Porter (1994). European Imperialism, 1860-1914. 

B.N. Porter (1996). Lion’s Share: A Short History of British Imperialism 1850-1970. 

I. Talbot (2005). Pakistan: A Modern History. 

J. Lawrence (1998). Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India. 

R.F. Holland (1992). European Decolonisation 1918-1991. 

I. Talbot (2000). India and Pakistan. 

W.D. McIntyre (1998). British Decolonisation 1946-1997. 

P.J. Cain, &A.G. Hopkins (1994). British Imperialism. Crisis and Destruction 1914-90. 

Niall Ferguson (2007). Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World. 

H.S. Wilson (1994). African Decolonisation. 

R.F. Betts (1998). Decolonisation. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback  Discussion of presentations in class  Discussion of essay preparations/plans • Knowledge of the subject will be developed by means both of independent study and group work in seminar situations. This will be formally tested in the assessed assignment. • Discussion in seminars will develop presentational and group working skills which will be informally assessed. • The acquisition of research skills will be developed through preparation for the essay. The assignment will test the research and writing ability to the standard appropriate for postgraduate study in terms of analysis, interpretation, critical thinking and careful referencing.


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings