Not available in 2020/21
The Ottoman Empire and its Legacy, 1299-1950

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Marc Baer SAR 3.17


This course is available on the MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The Ottoman Empire (1299-1923) was one of the longest lasting and most territorially extensive of all empires in history. Yet today few know about its nature, whether in Turkey or abroad. Who were the Ottomans? How did they run their empire? How did they manage diversity? How did their understanding and practice of Islam change over time? What was the secret of their success, and what ultimately caused the empire's fall? How do the Ottomans compare to other contemporary empires? What is the Ottoman legacy, especially in Turkey and Greece? What is the significance of the Ottoman Empire for world history?

In order to answer these questions we will study the following topics: three pillars of Ottoman inheritance: Byzantium, Islam, Mongols; the origins and rise of the Ottoman Empire; the conquest of Constantinople and its significance for world history; Ottoman state institutions in the “classic age;” gendering Ottoman History; the Ottomans and the Renaissance; the Ottomans and the Age of Exploration; the Ottoman-Safavid-Habsburg struggle for supremacy; Ottoman Jews: model minority?; sixteenth- and seventeenth-century transformations; pietism, conversion, and interreligious relations; reform and repression, 1839-1908; Orientalism and the Ottomans; the Young Turks and the revolution of 1908; World War I and the Armenian genocide; Atatürk: the “Father” of Modern Turkey and the new Turkish Republic; the Kurdish issue; the legacy of the Ottoman Empire in comparative perspective; and the Ottoman past in Turkish historical fiction.


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

There will be a reading week in the Michaelmas and the Lent terms and a revision session in the Summer Term.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.

Weekly written and oral reading reports in MT and LT. Completion of these is mandatory, in order to facilitate good seminar discussions.

Indicative reading

Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (Princeton 2010);

Marshall Hodgson, Rethinking World History: Essays on Europe, Islam, and World History (Cambridge 1993);

Caroline Finkel, Osman’s Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire (London 2005);

Giancarlo Casale, The Ottoman Age of Exploration (Oxford 2011);

Marc David Baer,  Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe (Oxford 2008);

Marc David Baer, The Dönme: Jewish Converts, Muslim Revolutionaries, and Secular Turks (Stanford 2010);

Mark Mazower, Salonica City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims, and Jews 1430-1950 (Vintage 2006).


Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (35%, 3000 words) in the LT.
Presentation (15%) in the MT and LT.

The participation grade will be based on the quality of the student’s contribution to seminar discussions, and weekly posting of reading responses.

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: 12

Average class size 2019/20: 13

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

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