BA Ancient History

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Responses to Globalisation, 1500-1700

Course unit fact file
Unit code HIST32022
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


Global trade is a defining feature of our world. It drives the worldwide economy, influences politics, restructures societies, and stimulates cultural contact. Yet, despite its great long-term importance, the ways individuals and communities helped to shape the early history of global trade in the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries remains poorly understood. How did people around the world react to the emergence of new forms of global exchange in the early modern period? How did individuals and communities comprehend their encounter with different cultures and economies? In what ways was global trade an opportunity or a threat in localities across the world? How did globalisation effect behaviour, society and politics?

In this course, we will examine questions like these and seek to understand just how individuals, communities, states and empires were affected by and responded to globalisation. To do so we will work with sources from Africa, America, Asia and Europe to undertake in-depth explorations of specific regions as well as coming to understand the connectedness of the world economy. Through this means we will explore the processes and economic impact of global trade and also uncover the social and cultural histories of the people whose lives were changed by it.



Restricted to History programmes, History joint honours programmes and Classics and Ancient History programmes (please check your programme structure for further details).


  • To provide a broad understanding of early modern global encounters in their historical context
  • To explore the connections between economy, culture, society and politics in early modern history
  • To consider the impact of global interaction on the transformation of regions in Africa, America, Asia and Europe
  • To explore and analyse the relationship between globalisation and the societies, cultures and economies it brought together
  • To challenge traditional understanding of globalisation as an economic process by approaching it through the lens of individuals and communities affected by it
  • To engage creatively and effectively from textual and material sources from different across the world

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand debates surrounding the causes and consequences of globalisation in the early modern period
  • Critically assess the parallels and contrasts evident in how people in different parts of the world responded to globalisation
  • Evaluate the relationship between local experiences of globalisation with wider trends and developments

Intellectual skills

  • Analyse a range of different types of textual and material primary evidence
  • Locate discussions of source material in a wider understanding of historiography
  • Critically engage with relevant debates

Practical skills

  • Essay writing
  • Seminar participation and communication of complex ideas to a larger group
  • Analysis of evidence to establish independent interpretation
  • Autonomous research

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Present nuanced interpretations via advanced written and oral communication 
  • Accomplish independent research projects
  • Work collaboratively as part of a team
  • Critical thinking and analysis

Employability skills

Students can expect to develop an important set of skills which will be highly valued in the workplace: · Critical thinking and analysis An awareness of how global connectivity effects society, politics and the economy · Locating, organising and interpreting large quantities of evidence · To convey complex ideas via written and verbal communication · The ability to collaborate effectively within a team Acting autonomously and taking leadership (through independent research, seminar preparation, and presentation

Assessment methods


Assessment task

Weighting within unit (if summative)

Oral assessment/presentation







Feedback methods


Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Students will receive feedback electronically and through verbal discussion. 



Recommended reading

Aslanian, Sebouh David, From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa (California, 2014).

Bentley, Jerry H., Subrahmanyam, Sanjay and Wiesner-Hanks, Merry E., eds.,The Cambridge World History, vol. 6:The Construction of a Global World, 1400-1800 CE (Cambridge, 2015).

Braudel, Fernand, The Perspective of the World: Vol. 3 of Civilisation and Capitalism, 15th–18th Centuries (California, 1992).

Curtin, Philip, Cross-cultural Trade in World History (Cambridge, 1984).

Green, Toby, The Rise of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Western Africa, 1300-1589 (Cambridge, 2011).

Smith, Edmond, Merchants: The Community That Shaped England’s Trade and Empire, 1550-1650 (London, 2021).

Trivellato, Francesca, The Familiarity of Strangers: The Sephardic Diaspora, Livorno,and Cross-Cultural Trade in the Early Modern Period (New Haven, 2012).

· Yazdani, K. and Menon. D., Capitalisms: Towards a Global History (Oxford, 2020)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Edmond Smith Unit coordinator

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