Empire, Colonialism and Globalisation

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Gagan D. S. Sood


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation. This course is available on the MA Global Studies: A European Perspective, MSc in Global History, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University) and MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.



Course content

This course is about the history and historiography of empires since the fifteenth century, and their legacy for our world today. Prominence is given to the Ottoman, Mughal, Qing, Spanish, Portuguese, French, British and American empires. We explore different approaches to these past empires, and the dynamics of their rise and fall. We also explore the extent to which the imperial past has helped shape the processes of globalisation in early modern, modern and contemporary times. A number of major themes are addressed, including: financial and industrial capitalism; cross-cultural encounters; the role of the periphery and local actors; climate, diseases and the environment; imperial ideologies; the great divergence; colonial science and technology; the relationship between colonial and metropolitan societies; race, ethnicity and gender; post-colonialism. The course is structured so as to encourage general and comparative discussions rooted in specific case studies.


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT. 3 hours of classes in the ST.

There will be a reading week in the Michaelmas and the Lent terms. The classes in the Summer Term are for a mock exam and a revision class.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to submit a 2000-word essay in MT and sit a 1-hour mock exam in ST.

Indicative reading

A full reading list will be provided. For general surveys of the subject, students may consult: David B. Abernethy, The Dynamics of Global Dominance: European Overseas Empires, 1415-1980 (New Haven, CT, 2000); Susan E. Alcock, Empires: Perspectives from Archaeology and History (Cambridge, 2001); Christopher A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914: Global Connections and Comparisons (Oxford, 2004); Jane Burbank & Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (Princeton, NJ, 2010); Alejandro Colás, Empire (Cambridge, 2007); John Darwin, After Tamerlane: The Global History of Empire (London, 2007); Michael W. Doyle, Empires (Ithaca, NY, 1986); Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge, MA, 2001); Stephen R. Howe, Empire: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2002); Herfried Münkler, Empires: The Logic of World Domination from Ancient Rome to the United States (Cambridge, 2007); Jürgen Osterhammel, Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview (Princeton, NJ, 1997); Jürgen Osterhammel & Niels P. Peterson, Globalization: A Short History (Princeton, NJ, 2005).


Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Presentation (15%) in the MT.
Essay (25%, 2500 words) in the LT.
Class participation (10%) in the MT and LT.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2015/16: 37

Average class size 2015/16: 9

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course survey results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 86%



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