Not available in 2022/23
European Empires and Global Conflict, 1935-1948

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr David Motadel SAR 3.16


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 Asian History, 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 course examines the history of the European empires in the Second World War. It covers the history of the war fought in the imperial world and its impact on the lives of millions of colonial civilians; the political, military, and social history of colonial soldiers who fought in Europe’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious armies; the history of anti-colonial movements during the war, from Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh to Gandhi’s Quit India movement; and the history of the war’s impact on decolonisation and the twentieth century world order. Overall, the course explores the non-European experience of the Second World War, examining the ways in which the conflict shaped societies and political orders in Africa, Asia, and beyond. Drawing on key secondary texts, primary sources, and visual material, the course provides a broad introduction to the most destructive and cataclysmic conflict in modern global history.


Seminars will be taught on campus, with online teaching via Zoom as a back-up if required.

There will be reading weeks in the MT and the LT

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce one essay (2,500 to 3,000 words) in MT; one presentation in MT; and one presentation in LT.  Students will also be required to prepare short summaries of the readings (bullet points) for the weekly meetings.

Indicative reading

C. A. Bayly and Tim Harper, Forgotten Armies: Britain’s Asian Empire and the War with Japan (London, 2004).

Judith A. Byfield, Carolyn A. Brown, Timothy Parsons, and Ahmad Alawad Sikainga (eds.), Africa and World War II (Cambridge, 2015).

Ronald Hyam, Britain's Declining Empire: The Road to Decolonisation, 1918-1968 (Cambridge, 2007).

Ashley Jackson, The British Empire and the Second World War (London, 2006).

Eric T. Jennings, Vichy in the Tropics: Pétain’s National Revolution in Madagascar, Guadeloupe and Indochina, 1940-1944 (Stanford, 2001).

John Kent, The Internationalization of Colonialism: Britain, France and Black Africa, 1939-1956 (Oxford, 1992).

Yasmin Khan, The Raj at War: A People’s History Of India’s Second World War (London, 2015).

David Killingray and Richard Rathbone (ed.), Africa and the Second World War (London, 1986).

William Roger Louis, Imperialism at Bay, 1941-45: The United States and the Decolonization of the British Empire (Oxford, 1977).

Emily S. Rosenberg (ed.), A World Connecting, 1870-1945 (Cambridge, MA, 2012).

Aviel Roshwald, Estranged Bedfellows: Britain and France in the Middle East during the Second World War (New York, 1990).

Alberto Sbacchi, Ethiopia under Mussolini: Fascism and the Colonial Experience (London, 1985).

Martin Thomas, The French Empire at War, 1940-1945 (Manchester, 1998).

Stein Tønnesson, The Vietnamese Revolution of 1945: Roosevelt, Ho Chi Minh and de Gaulle in a World at War (London, 1991).

Gerhard L. Weinberg, A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II (Cambridge, 2005).


Essay (50%, 5000 words) in the LT.
Essay (50%, 5000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

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