Empire, New Nations and Migration - ENGL6950

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 5 30 (15) Maria Ridda checkmark-circle


This course will introduce students to the field of postcolonial literature, focusing on the period from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The module will be divided into three consecutive areas: empire and colonisation (three weeks); liberation movements and the processes of decolonisation (either three or four weeks); and migration and diaspora (either three or four weeks). Centred primarily on canonical British colonial texts, the first part of the course may also involve comparison with other less familiar texts and contexts, such as those of Zionist nationalism and settler colonialism, or more popular twentieth-century imperial fantasy and adventure genres. The texts in the second part of the module will be drawn primarily from Africa, the Carribean, the Middle East, and South Asia. The intention is to allow students to bring these disparate regions and texts into a productive dialogue with each other by reflecting on their shared history of decolonisation and their common engagement with colonial and liberation discourses. The course further aims to sketch a narrative of empire and decolonisation that is in part relevant to contemporary postcolonial Britain, to which the final section on migration and diaspora then returns. Some brief extracts from theoretical material on colonial discourse analysis, decolonisation, postcoloniality and migration will be considered alongside a single primary text each week. Students will be introduced to key ideas from the work of (among others) Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall and Gayatri Spivak. Together with a broad primary textual arc stretching from the British empire to postcolonial Britain, the course will thus give students a cohesive intellectual narrative with which to explore changing conceptions of culture, history, and postcolonial identity across the modern world.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 32
Private study hours: 268
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Critical essay (2,500 words) (30%)
Research Essay (4,000 words) (50%)
Seminar Participation (20%)

Reassessment methods:
Alternative Assessment: 100% coursework (4,000 words)

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Armah, Ayi Kwei. (1968), The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, Oxford: Heinemann
Blixen, Karen. (1937), Out of Africa, London: Penguin
Danticat, Edwidge (2004), The Dew-Breaker, New York: Alfred A. Knopf
Thiong'o, Ngugi wa (1967), A Grain of Wheat, London: Penguin

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate an historically contextualised understanding of colonial discourse analysis, theories of decolonisation, migration and diaspora.
2 Interpret and apply a range of theoretical concepts surrounding postcolonialism across a variety of regions and literatures, and make productive comparisons and distinctions between them.
3 Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between postcolonial literary studies and other critical disciplines.
4 Demonstrate an enhanced capacity to structure nuanced arguments centred on the close relationship between aesthetics, culture and politics in a range of literary genres.
5 Show understanding of the different literary traditions and movements out of which these texts arise, and how these in turn might be articulated within, and interrogative of, broader transnational and postcolonial frameworks.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Apply close reading techniques to a range of literary texts and to make complex comparisons between them.
2 Demonstrate the skills necessary for participating in group discussions and giving presentations.
3 Demonstrate an increased capacity for self-directed research and the ability to discuss, evaluate and creatively deploy secondary critical and theoretical perspectives.
4 Construct original, articulate and well-substantiated arguments


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
Back to top

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.