Empire and Africa - HIST3590

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


This module is especially concerned with the end of Empire in Africa. After exploring the origins and nature of European empires in Africa, the course examines the impact of World War II on the British Empire and the end of British imperial influence in Kenya and Egypt. The course compares the British approach to decolonisation with those of the French, Belgians and Portuguese, raising the cases of French Algeria, the Belgian Congo, and Portuguese Angola and Mozambique. American attitudes to empire are also considered. Finally, the module covers the history of Italian and Soviet involvement in the Horn of Africa.


Contact hours

10 lectures and 10 seminars. There will be one writing week and one week devoted to individual essay return.

Method of assessment

The module will be assessed by 50% coursework and 50% examination.

The coursework element will include:
- Two essays (1500 words each – each worth 40% of the coursework mark). Through the essay, students learn to research a subject and to formulate and present their own opinions.
- Participation in seminars (20% of the overall mark). This mark will be based on the level of engagement with the seminar readings and with one another's responses and opinions displayed in seminars.

The examination will be taken during the Summer term, and will take the form of one 2-hour paper, during which students will answer two essay-style questions selected from a list of between eight and twelve questions.

Indicative reading

BIRMINGHAM, D. (1995) The Decolonisation of Africa. London: UCL Press
HARGREAVES, D. (1988) Decolonization in Africa. New York: Pearson Education
HYAM, R. (2007) Britain's Declining Empire: The Road to Decolonisation, 1918-1982. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
THORN, G. (2001) End of Empires: European Decolonisation, 1919-1980. London: Hodder Education
WHITE, N. (1999) Decolonisation: The British Experience since 1945. Abingdon: Routledge

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes

Through the study of this module, students will have:
- Been introduced to the broad subject of modern European African empires and their contested end, and provided with the skills needed to understand evaluate, contextualise and communicate effectively their knowledge of history
- Been given an opportunity to develop their intellectual interest in the history of African empires and decolonisation and their skills in researching historical subjects and in communicating their knowledge and ideas, both orally and in writing.
- Exposed to the disciplines of political, social, economic and cultural history.

The intended generic learning outcomes

Through the study of this module, students will have:
- Considered critically relevant intellectual concepts as well as differences of opinion and interpretation both amongst historians, and they will also have developed their ability to identify and solve problems
- Worked both independently and within groups. Students will have engaged in independent work, using library resources, and will practice and improve their skills in time management, historical research, organisation and analysis of material, oral presentations and essay-writing.
- Engaged in group work, in which they will be encouraged to interact effectively with others and to work co-cooperatively to enhance one another's learning.
- Acquired the skill to communicate complex concepts effectively through written work. They will have acquired the ability to further develop skills they have already gained, which will be of use to them in future study or occupations.
- Improved their communication skills and skills with IT.
- Acquired the skill to present information creatively and accessibly.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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