BA Ancient History and History

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Silk Roads: Eurasian Connections from the Mongols to Manilla, 1200-1800

Course unit fact file
Unit code HIST21242
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by History
Available as a free choice unit? No


The place of Asia at the heart of the world economy is far from a modern phenomenon. By 1200, the Song Dynasty oversaw an economy driven by joint-stock companies, overseen by guilds, powered by coal, and sending goods like porcelain, silk and iron to destinations across Asia. Such economic success contributed to the development and expansion of trade routes, the movement of people, and the exchange of ideas that would come to define Eurasian connections for centuries to come. By 1800, these links were still influential and had expanded further still through maritime routes tying Eurasia further into the economies of Europe, Africa and America. In this module, we will use the idea of the “Silk Road” as a starting point for asking important questions about the origins of our globalised world, from the formation of empires to the impact of religion and practices of diplomacy. 


HIST21152 is restricted to History programmes, History joint honours programmes and Classics and Ancient History programmes (please check your programme structure for further details).

This module is restricted to History programmes and History joint honours programmes (please check your programme structure for further details).


· To provide a broad understanding of Eurasian connections in their historical context

· To explore the connections between economy, culture, society and politics in global history

· To consider the impact of cross-cultural exchange and encounter on the transformation of regions in Asia and the wider world

· To explore and analyse the relationship between globalisation and the societies, cultures and economies it brought together

· To challenge traditional understanding of economic and imperial development by approaching these topics through a Eurasian-centric perspective

· 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

· Assess how a long-term perspective of the world economy can change how we understand the topic

· Critically assess the parallels and contrasts evident in how societies in different parts of the world responded to globalisation

· Evaluate the relationship between economic, social and political development

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

· Group work and effectively collaborating with a team

· 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

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 60%
Oral assessment/presentation 40%

Feedback methods

Feedback methord Formative or Summative
Students will recive feedback electroncally and through verbal discussion Summative


Recommended reading

Janet Abu-Lughod, Before European Hegemony: The World System, 1250-1350 (OUP, 1991)

Mary Favereau, The Horde: How The Mongols Changed the World (Belknap Press, 2021)

Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (Bloomsbury, 2015)

William McNeill, A World History (OUP, 1998)

Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Explorations in Connected History: Mughals and Franks (OUP, 2004)

Kaveh Yazdani and Dilip Menon, Capitalisms: Towards a Global History (OUP, 2020)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Edmond Smith Unit coordinator
Rachel Winchcombe Unit coordinator
Georg Christ Unit coordinator

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