Living Through the Global: Colonial Migrants and the British Empire from the Eighteenth Century to the Present (HIH2016A)

StaffDr Gajendra Singh - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module will introduce you to the history of the British Empire through the lived experience of those that were involved in its creation, governance, operation and decline. You will explore the recent social and cultural turn in the history-writing of Empire – that it cannot be understood solely as competing ideologies of governance or through the ebbs and flows of capital. The module will instead focus upon the lived, global experiences of those involved and impacted by Britain’s global web of Empire – from convict to slave, missionary to postcolonial migrant.

The module will also aim to develop your skills in researching, interpreting and analyzing both primary and secondary sources. These skills will be necessary to study histories of Empire with which students may be unfamiliar and be useful as you progress to the third year of the undergraduate degrees.


ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Be aware of the various developments in the social and cultural histories of the British Empire
  • 2. Make a close evaluation of the key developments and debates in postcolonial and post-Orientalist history writing
  • 3. Evaluate the main themes in the subject and to collate information upon, and evaluate in greater detail, those aspects of the module discussed in seminar and especially those topics selected by students for their coursework

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Analyse the key developments of the period
  • 5. Collate data from a range of sources, both primary and secondary
  • 6. Interpret primary sources
  • 7. Trace long-term as well as short-term historical developments
  • 8. Recognize and deploy historical terminology correctly
  • 9. Assess different approaches to historical writing in areas of controversy

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. Work both independently and in a group, including participating in oral seminar discussions
  • 11. Identify a topic, select, comprehend, and organize primary and secondary materials on that topic with little guidance
  • 12. Produce to a deadline and, in examination conditions, a coherent argument

Syllabus plan

Topics may include:


  • Intellectualizing the Imperial: From Voltaire to (Niall) Ferguson
  • The Bible and the Bullet: The White Settler
  • Travel-Writing and Empire
  • Empire on Display
  • Colonial Convicts/Colonial Soldiers
  • Coercive Labour
  • Disciplining the Body: Sex and Empire
  • Exiled at Home: The Emergence of Colonized Elites
  • From Marx to Marcus Garvey: Black Radicalism
  • ‘They Gave the Crowd Plenty Fun’: The Rise of the Postcolonial Diaspora
  • Writing the ‘Post’ in Postcolonialism

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22 hoursLectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22 hoursSeminars; these will be led by the tutor. You will need to prepare for each seminar and present on a given topic in groups of 4 on 4 occasions
Guided independent study 22 hoursWeb-based activities located on ELE – preparation for seminars and presentations
Guided independent study 234 hoursReading and preparation for seminars and presentations

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay Plan x 1500 words1-12Verbal and Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay303,000 words1-12Verbal and Written
Group Presentation2025 minutes1-11
Exam502 questions in 2 hours1-12Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay3,000 words1-12Referral/Deferral period
Group Presentation1,500 script as for individual presentation, equivalent to 10 minutes1-11Referral/Deferral period
Exam2 questions in 2 hours1-12Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment of the essay and exam are exactly the same, a 3,000 words essay (worth 30%) and a 2 hours exam (worth 50%). The group presentation will be replaced by a written script equivalent to 10 minutes of speech.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Introductory reading:

 Christopher A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World: Global Connections and Comparisons, 1780-1914, (London: Blackwell, 2004).

Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness, (London: Verso, 1993).

Antoinette Burton, Empire in Question: Reading, Writing and Teaching British Imperialism, (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2011).

Brent Hayes Edwards, The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation and the Rise of Black Internationalism, (Cambridge, Mass. And London: Harvard University Press, 2003).

Linda Colley, The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History, (London: Harper Press, 2007).

Vijay Prashad, Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity, (Boston: Beacon, 2001).

David Arnold, The Tropics and the Travelling Gaze: India, Landscape and Science, 1800-1856, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2006).

Robert J.C. Young, Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race, (London: Routledge, 1995).

Joya Chatterjee and David Washbrook (eds.), Routledge Handbook of the South Asian Diaspora, (London: Routledge, 2013).

Pankaj Mishra, From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia, (London: Penguin, 2013).

Bill Schwarz, The White Man’s World, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).


Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Empire Online (Available through the library website)

Making Britain: Discover How South Asians Made the Nation, 1870-1950,

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient, (London: Bloomsbury, 1992).

Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia, (London: Faber and Faber, 1990)

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date