Empire, Colonialism and Globalisation

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Taylor C. Sherman SAR M.10


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation. This course is available on the MSc in Global Economic History (Erasmus Mundus), MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International and Asian History 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 covers the comparative history of empires from the fifteenth century to the present day. Students will study the Ottoman, Mughal, Qing, Spanish, British and American empires in depth. We explore different approaches to these 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: gender and Islam in the Ottoman Empire, cultural cosmopolitanism in the Mughal Empire, religious conversion in the Spanish Empire, governing through ethnicity in the Qing Empire; the history of race; the global system of African slavery; the environmental history of India under the British Empire, colonial Medicine in Africa, and settler colonialism in Australia. The course is structured so as to encourage general and comparative discussions rooted in specific case studies.


Learning engagement includes seminars, recorded content, small group meetings and asynchronous Moodle posts. There will be a reading week in the Michaelmas and the Lent terms. 

Formative coursework

Students are expected to submit 1 draft essay (1200 words) in the MT, and one essay (2500 words) in the MT

Indicative reading

A full reading list will be provided. For general surveys of the subject, students may consult: Jane Burbank & Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (Princeton, NJ, 2010); Frederick Cooper, Colonialism in Question:  Theory, Knowledge and History (Berkeley, 2005); 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); 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).


Essay (45%, 5000 words) in the LT.
Essay (45%, 5000 words) in the ST.
Class participation (10%) in the MT and LT.

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: 35

Average class size 2019/20: 12

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information