A Global History of Empires: 1500-1850 - HI435

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Autumn 4 15 (7.5) DR A Mukhopadhyay checkmark-circle


This course explores the history of empires on a global scale. It challenges students to grasp the history of empires by examining their structures, instruments and consequences. The course will cover the history of empire from the sixteenth to the middle of the nineteenth century. Themes will include the expansion of European empires (Spanish, Portuguese, British, French, Dutch and Belgian) in the Americas, Asia, the global rivalry for empires among European nations in the eighteenth century, the commercial expansion of the East India Companies in the Indian Ocean,, the expansion British colonies in India, slavery and the Abolition movement and the Revolt of 1857. It will provide students with a critical historical knowledge of imperialism and globalisation.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

This module will be taught through one 1-hour lecture and one 1-hour seminar each week, with the exception of Enhancement Week and one week that will be dedicated to coursework feedback.

Method of assessment

This module is assessed by:

- Essay 1 (2000 words) - 40%
- Essay 2 (2000 words) - 40%
- Seminar Performance (10 minutes) - 20%

Indicative reading

Brook, Timothy, Vermeer's Hat: The seventeenth century and the dawn of the global world, London, 2007
Canny, Nicholas, The Oxford history of the British Empire Vol. 1, The origins of empire, Oxford, 1998.
Curtin, Phillip D., Cross-Cultural Trade in World History, Cambridge, 1984,
Darwin, John, After Tamerlane: the global history of empire since 1405, London, 2007.
Das Gupta, Ashin, Merchants of Maritime India, 1500-1800, Aldershot, 1994.
Dunn, Richard S. Sugar and Slaves; The Rise of the Planter Class in the English West Indies, 1624-1713 (Chappell Hill, 1972/ 2000)
Elliott, J.H., Empires of the Atlantic world: Britain and Spain in America, 1492-1830, New Haven, 2006.
Bayly, C.A. Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World, 1780–1830 (London, 1989).
Curtin, Philip D. The Image of Africa: British Ideas and Action, 1780-1850, vol. 2, (Madison & London, 1973).
Furber, Holden, Rival Empires of Trade in the Orient, 1600–1800 (Minneapolis, 1976).
Subrahmanyam,Sanjay, The Portuguese Empire in Asia, 1500-1700: A Political and Economic History, London New York 1993.
Taylor, Charles and Amy Gutmann, Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition, Princeton, 1994
Gibson, Charles. The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule: a History of the Indians of the Valley of Mexico, 1519-1810, (Stanford, 1964).
Hulme, Peter. Colonial Encounters; Europe and the native Caribbean 1492-1797 (London & New York, 1986).

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes of this module are that, on completion of this module, students will be able to:

- To introduce students to the political, economic and socio-cultural developments in the history of European empires from the sixteenth to the twentieth century on a global scale; and to provide students with the skills needed to understand evaluate, contextualise and communicate effectively their knowledge of history
- To provide students with an opportunity to develop their intellectual interests in history of modern empires and their skills in researching historical subjects and in communicating their knowledge and ideas, both orally and in writing.
- To expose students to the disciplines of political, social, economic and cultural history.

The intended generic learning outcomes of this module are that, on completion of this module, students will be able to:

- Students will gain an understanding of history of modern empires in their global context, which will help them to have a better understanding of the modern multicultural world and the global economy.
- The course will test problem solving skills and ability to work both independently and within groups. Students will engage 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.
- Students will also engage in group work in seminars, in which they will be encouraged to interact effectively with others and to work cooperatively on group tasks.
- Students will acquire the skill to communicate complex concepts effectively both orally and through written work. They will acquire the ability to further develop skills they have already gained, which will be of use to them in future study or occupations


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage 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.