BA Art History and History

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Colonial Encounters: Race, Violence, and the Making of the Modern World

Course unit fact file
Unit code HIST21121
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course introduces students to the history of colonialism from the late eighteenth century. It explores how colonies were fundamentally reshaped by changing ideologies of empire and power politics; how constructions of race, religion and gender were contested from above and below; how projects to control colonial spaces and bodies were transformed over time; and the role of violence in colonialism and its impact on post-colonial societies. Students will be introduced to a range of textual, visual and oral primary sources, historiographical debates drawn from Africa and South Asia. 

Lectures will offer case-studies and coverage of key historiographical debates. The seminars will support learning from the readings and lectures; each will also focus on the analysis of a primary source related to the topics of the week. The course will focus in particular on the following topics: slavery and abolition; ideologies of empire; gender and sexuality; fantasies of race and space; contesting empires: violence, anti-colonial nationalism and decolonisation; post-colonial legacies. 






  • Acquire a broad knowledge and understanding of the impact of colonialism in the modern period using both theory and specific case-studies. 

  • Critically reflect on how histories of colonialism have been constructed in a range of global regions, and to make connections and comparisons between these different historiographies. 

  • Engage creatively and effectively with primary sources, including online learning resources for world history. 

Teaching and learning methods

2 x 1 hour lectures and 1 weekly seminar.

All the support materials for the module will be on Blackboard, and the coursework will be submitted and returned via Tii and Grademark.

Lecturers and seminar tutors will offer office hours to support the course assessments and they will offer detailed feed-forward feedback on assessments.


Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand the general trajectories of European colonialism in South Asia and Africa 

  • Appreciate the ways colonial encounters created modern political, economic, and cultural institutions 

  • Understand the multiple legacies of European colonialism in the contemporary world 

  • Increase knowledge about South Asian and African societies, history, and geography 

Intellectual skills

  • Ability to analyse a variety of primary source materials 

  • Sensitivity to non-western cultures 

  • Ability to compare historical phenomena in radically different societies 

Practical skills

  • Ability to read critically about unfamiliar societies and histories 

  • Independent analysis of primary source material 

  • Enhanced ability to do secondary research on non-western societies 

  • Essay writing and analytic skills, as applied to non-western contexts 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Increased knowledge about increasingly important areas of world 

  • Written and oral communication skills 

  • Increased ability to navigate across cultural difference 

Employability skills

In addition to the practical and transferable skills outlined above, this module will provide students with exposure to non-western histories and cultures, providing useful skills for a variety of international business and NGO roles. The module's emphasis on how colonialism has been integral to forming the modern world will provide students skills of great use in adapting to multicultural workplaces.

Assessment methods

Quiz 10%
Source analysis presentation slides 40%
Essay 50%


Feedback methods


Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on submitted assessments, given through Blackboard/TurnItIn



oral feedback on assessed work and class participation in office hours




Recommended reading

Phillipa Levine, The British Empire: Sunrise to Sunset (Harlow: Longman, 2007) 

Christopher Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914: Global Connections and Comparisons (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004). 

Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal, Modern South Asia: History, Culture and Political Economy (London: Routledge, 1998). 

 Frederick Cooper, Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005)

 Frederick Cooper and Ann Laura Stoler, eds., Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World (Berkeley, University of California Press 1997) 

Richard Reid: A History of Modern Africa (New York: Wiley, 2008) 


Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jesus Chairez-Garza Unit coordinator
Gerardo Serra Unit coordinator
Steven Pierce Unit coordinator

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