Empire, Colonialism and Globalisation

This information is for the 2015/16 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

The course examines the history of empires since the fifteenth century, and their legacy for our world today. It analyses specific imperial formations, with prominence given to the Ottoman, Mughal, Qing, Spanish, Portuguese, French, British and American empires. It explores conceptual and methodological debates concerning the nature and significance of given empires, and the dynamics of their rise and fall. The course also explores the extent to which the imperial past has helped to 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.

Indicative reading

A full reading list will be provided. For general surveys of the subject, students may consult: Susan E. Alcock, Empires: Perspectives from Archaeology and History (Cambridge, 2001); 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); 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); David B. Abernethy, The Dynamics of Global Dominance: European Overseas Empires, 1415-1980 (New Haven, CT, 2000); Stephen R. Howe, Empire: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2002).


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2014/15: 49

Average class size 2014/15: 12

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Value: One Unit

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