Not available in 2022/23
The Ottoman Empire and its Legacy, 1299-1950

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Marc Baer SAR 3.17


This course is available on the MA in Asian and International History (LSE and NUS), MA in Modern History, 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.


The School aims to run in-person seminars, subject to circumstances, with some online provision if and where necessary.

There will be a reading week in Week 6 of the Michaelmas Term and Week 6 of the Lent Term. 

Formative coursework

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

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

Indicative reading

The course textbook will be Marc David Baer, The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars, and Caliphs (Basic Books 2021). Other readings will include Karen Barkey, Empire of Difference: The Ottomans in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge, 2008); Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (Princeton 2010); Ahmet Karamustafa, God’s Unruly Friends: Dervish Groups in the Islamic Middle Period, 1200-1550 (New York 2006); Franklin Lewis, Rumi--Past and Present, East and West: The Life, Teachings, and Poetry of Jalal al-Din Rumi (New York 2007); Cemal Kafadar, Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State (California 1995); Rudi Paul Lindner, Nomads and Ottomans in Medieval Anatolia (Bloomington: Indiana University, 1983); Giancarlo Casale, The Ottoman Age of Exploration (Oxford 2011); Walter Andrews and Mehmet Kalpakli, The Age of Beloveds: Love and the Beloved in Early-
Modern Ottoman and European Culture and Society (Duke 2005); Leslie Peirce, The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire (Oxford 1993); Baki Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire: Political and Social Transformation in the Early Modern World (Cambridge 2012); Ali Yaycioglu, Partners of the Empire: The Crisis of the Ottoman Empire in the Age of Revolutions (Stanford 2016); Erik Zurcher, The Young Turk Legacy and Nation Building: From the Ottoman Empire to Ataturk’s Turkey (I.B. Tauris, 2010); and Ron Suny, "They Can Live in the Desert But Nowhere Else”: A History of the Armenian Genocide (Princeton 2015).


Essay (50%, 4000 words) in the LT.
Essay (50%, 4000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2021/22: 15

Average class size 2021/22: 15

Controlled access 2021/22: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

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