Violence or Non-Violence? Gandhi and Popular Movements in India, 1915-1950: Context (HIH3168)

StaffDr Gajendra Singh - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesAt least 90 credits of History at Level 1 and/or Level 2.
Co-requisitesViolence or Non-Violence? Gandhi and Popular Movements in India, 1915-1950: Sources
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module will examine the role played by the ideology and leadership of Mahatma Gandhi in India's struggle for independence. It will, in addition, explore the neglected but equally important part played by social, revolutionary and peasant-based movements in this period. You will be introduced to new perspectives in historical writing which have contested the validity of 'official' accounts of recent Indian history – whether written from a colonialist or nationalist perspective. A study of the historiography will be combined with an analysis of various sources that can be used to produce neo-colonialist, neo-nationalist and postcolonial histories of the Indian independence movement.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Evaluate the different complex themes in the cultural, social and political histories of the Indian independence movement.
  • 2. Make close specialist evaluation of the key developments within the period, developed through independent study and seminar work.
  • 3. Analyse the key developments within the nationalist movements in colonial India, and the differences between colonialist, nationalist and postcolonial history-writing.
  • 4. Follow the intellectual development of anti-colonial nationalism and the social and cultural movements that acted as its counterpart across the period.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Focus on and comprehend complex issues.
  • 6. Understand and deploy relevant historical terminology in a comprehensible manner.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Conduct independent and autonomous study and group work, including presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning.
  • 8. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.
  • 9. Present complex arguments orally.

Syllabus plan

Topics will include:

  • Gandhi in South Africa
  • Gandhi on Film: Popular Representations of the Gandhi Myth
  • The First World War in India: Collaboration and Revolution
  • Colonial Violence and the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
  • Gandhi and the Early Satyagrahas
  • Khilafat and Pan-Islamism
  • Non-Cooperation and Chauri Chaura
  • Gandhi and Women
  • Gandhi and the Untouchables
  • The Impact of the Great Depression
  • Civil Disobedience
  • Adivasis
  • Princely States
  • Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Subhas Chandra Bose
  • Big Business and Trade Unions
  • Revolutionary Nationalisms
  • Communism
  • Kisan Sabhas
  • Regional Studies (UP, Punjab, Bengal, Gujarat, South India)
  • Quit India
  • Tebhaga and Telangana
  • Communalism
  • Partition
  • Gandhi’s Legacy
  • Historiography of the Subaltern
  • The Freedom Struggle in Literature and Art

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 activities4422 x 2 hour seminars
Guided independent study256Reading and preparation for seminars, coursework and presentations

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionOngoing through course1-7, 9Verbal from tutor and fellow students

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
Essay253,000 words1-8Verbal and written
Essay253,000 words1-8Verbal and written
Unseen exam502 questions in 2 hours1-8Verbal and written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Two essaysTwo essays1-8Referral/deferral period
Unseen examUnseen exam1-8Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Sumit Sarkar, Modern India, 1885-1947, (New Delhi: Macmillan, 1983).

Sumit Sarkar, Modern Times, 1880s-1950, (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2014).

Crispin Bates, Subalterns and Raj, A History of South Asia Since 1600, (London: Routledge, 2007).

Ayesha Jalal and Sugata Bose, Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy, (London: Routledge, 1998).

Judith Brown, Modern India: The Origins of an Asian Democracy, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994 2nd edn.).

Judith Brown and Anthony Parel (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Gandhi, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

Bipan Chandra, History of Modern India, (New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2009).

R.C. Mazumdar, History of the Freedom Movement in India, Vols. 1-3, (New Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 1961-1972).

William Gould, Religion and Conflict in Modern South Asia, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Rajnarayan Chandavarkar, Imperial Power and Popular Politics: Class, Resistance and the State in India, 1850-1950, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

South Asia Archive,

The 1947 Partition Archive,

Cinemas of India,

Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire,

The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Electronic Book), Vols. 1-98, (New Delhi: Publications Division, Government of India, 1999),

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Films – Gandhi (1982); The Making of the Mahatma (1996); Lage Rao Munna Bhai (Carry on, Munna) (2006); Gandhi My Father (2007); Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar (2000); Hey Ram (2000).

Novels – Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children, (London: 1981); Rabindranath Tagore, The Home and the World, (1916); Rudyard Kipling, Plain Tales from the Hills, (1890); Premchand, Deliverance and Other Stories; Mulk Raj Anand, Untouchable (London: Penguin, 1st published 1935); R. K. Narayan, A Malgudi Omnibus (three novels: Swami and Friends; The Bachelor of Arts and The English Teacher), (London: Vintage, 1999); Saadat Hasan Manto, Mottled Dawn (Penguin, 1998).

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Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Violence, Non-violence, Gandhi, India