Early Modern Islamic Empires: 1500-1757 - HIST5108

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


In this course, students will study the rich history of the Early Modern Islamic World, stretching from the Ottoman Empire in the West, to India and Central Asia in the East. The course will focus on the three so-called 'Gunpowder Empires', the Ottomans, Safavids and Mughals. It will cover their rise from tribal, religious groupings on the borders and peripheries of the Islamic World, to true world powers. Students will be introduced to the ancient concepts of Iranian Kingship and how these were revitalised by all three empires to serve political aims, while maintaining a strict adherence to the tenets of Islam. Students will also explore the conflicting nature of these empires and their neighbours; whether the ongoing struggles between the Ottomans and Safavids in the Caucasus, or the uneasy relationship between the Mughals and the Hindu population of the Indian Subcontinent.


Contact hours

Contact hours: 30
Private study hours: 270
Total hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Essay 1 (2,000 words) 40%
Essay 2 (2,000 words) 40%
Annotated Bibliography 20%

Reassessment methods:
100% Coursework

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Alam, Muzaffar and Subrahmanyam, Sanjay. Indo-Persian Travels in the Age of Discoveries 1400-1800. Cambridge, 2007.
Aslanian, Sebouh. From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa. University of California, 2011.
Casale, Giancarlo. The Ottoman Age of Exploration. Oxford, 2010.
Dale, Stephen. Indian Merchants and Eurasian Trade, 1600-1750. Cambridge, 1994.
Faroqhi, Suraiya, The Ottoman and Mughal Empires: Social History in the Early Modern World. I.B. Tauris, 2019.
Floor, Willem. The Economy of Safavid Persia. Wiesbaden, 2000.
Gommans, Jos. Mughal Warfare: Indian Frontiers and High Roads to Empire, 1500-1700. London, 2002.
Melville, Charles. Safavid Persia. I.B.Tauris, 2009.

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 Be introduced to the history of the political, social and cultural developments in the Islamic world between 1500-1757.
2 Acquire an understanding of the cultural encounter and historical interaction between Islamic states, broadly conceived.
3 Assess critically and historically the shared and differing perspectives on different parts of the Islamic World to one another.
4 Acquire knowledge and understanding of a variety of methodological and theoretical approaches regarding the history of cultural exchange, cultural encounters and intercultural perceptions. They will in particular acquire a critical understanding of the 'Orientalism'- debate and its impact on the disciplines of cultural, postcolonial and political history.
5 Demonstrate an understanding of the complexities and the context of various primary sources relating to the Islamic world. To read them critically.
6 Develop their critical understanding of different historical approaches and degrees of bias as well as of the methodological complexities in the historical record itself.

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

1 Enhance their ability to express complex ideas and arguments effectively to a variety of audiences and/or using a variety of methodswhich can be transferred to other areas of study and employment.
2 Enhance communication, presentational skills and information technology skills.
3 Consider and demonstrate their understanding of critically relevant intellectual concepts as well as differences of opinion and interpretation both in the past and among historians.
4 Demonstrate their problem solving skills and ability to work independently.
5 Communicate complex concepts effectively to a variety of audiences and/or using a variety of methods
6 Demonstrate their communication skills and to skills in IT.


  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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