From Empire to Independence: The Extra-European World in the Twentieth Century

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Antony Best SAR 3.14


This course is available on the BA in Geography, BA in History, BA in Social Anthropology, BSc in Government and History, BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and Chinese, BSc in International Relations and History, BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and History, BSc in Politics and International Relations and BSc in Social Anthropology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

An introductory survey of events outside Europe in the twentieth century, with a particular emphasis on the collapse of the Western colonial empires, the development of relations between the West and the new states within Asia and Africa, revolutionary developments in Latin America, and the rise of non-Western models of political development. The course includes the state of the European empires in the first half of the century; the Japanese challenge to the West; the Chinese revolution; Indian independence; the decolonization process in Asia and Africa; the Japanese developmental state; the rise of the non-aligned movement; Caribbean states’ independence and the Cuban Revolution; the development of the Arab and non-Arab Middle East; American and Soviet relations with the Third World; post-independence South Asia; the modernization and underdevelopment debates; post-independence Africa; China under Mao and Deng; the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.


Students will engage with lecture content through recorded lectures and external content, as well as through live Q&A sessions.

Students will engage with class content in a variety of ways, including live sessions, small group meetings, asynchronous moodle posts, and short presentations.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6 of the Michaelmas Term and the Lent Term

Formative coursework

Students will be asked to write at least three essays and to present a number of brief class reports

Indicative reading

W G Beasley, The Rise of Modern Japan (1990); A Best, J Hanhimaki, J Maiolo and K Schulze, International History of the Twentieth Century (2001); J Darwin, Britain and Decolonization (1988); J P Dunbabin, International Relations since 1945, Vol 1, The Cold War, the Great Powers and their Allies (1994) Vol 2, The Post-Imperial Age, The Great Powers and the Wider World (1994); D Fieldhouse, Black Africa, 1945-1980 (1986); Goldschmidt, A Concise History of the Middle East; R Holland, European Decolonization, 1918-81 (1985); W Keylor, The Twentieth Century World (1984); S Sarkar, Modern India, 1885-1947 (1983); J Spence, The Search for Modern China (1990); M Yapp, The Near East since the First World War (1991); Skidmore and Smith, Modern Latin America (2005).



Take-home assessment (100%) in the ST.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2019/20: 138

Average class size 2019/20: 13

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills