Critics of Empire: Context (HIH3183)

StaffDr Marc Palen - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesAt least 90 credits of History at Level 1 and/or Level 2.
Co-requisitesCritics of Empire: Sources
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

By using a combination of tutor-led seminars and lectures, student-led seminars and independent study, the module will enable students to reflect independently upon research questions and the context related to theories of imperialism, while making direct use of a large array of primary sources. In this way students will learn to draw thematic and strongly analytical comparisons between material from different sources and show awareness of contrasting approaches to research, 

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Evaluate the different complex themes in the history of imperial theory.
  • 2. Make close specialist evaluation of the key developments within the period, developed through independent study and seminar work.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Analyse the key developments within theories of imperialism.
  • 4. Focus on and comprehend complex issues.
  • 5. Understand and deploy relevant historical terminology in a comprehensible manner.
  • 6. Follow the theories of imperialism across the period.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Do 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

The module will examine a wide array of contexts and sources relating to theories of imperialism, focusing upon the critics of imperialism—anti-colonial nationalists, cosmopolitans, anti-imperialists, pacifists, feminists, Marxists, non-Marxists—within the context of the British and American Empires.

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 course.1-7, 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

Anthony Brewer, Marxist Theories of Imperialism: A Critical Survey (Routledge, 1980).

Martin Ceadel, Semi-Detached Idealists: The British Peace Movement and International Relations, 1854-1945 (Oxford University Press, 2001).

Gregory Claeys, Imperial Sceptics: British Critics of Empire 1850-1920 (Cambridge University Press, 2010)

Michael Doyle, Empires (Cornell University Press, 1986).

Norman Etherington, Theories of Imperialism: War, Conquest, andCapital (London, 1984).

David S. Patterson, Toward a Warless World: The Travail of the American Peace Movement, 1887-1914 (Indiana University Press, 1977).

Brenda Gayle Plummer, Rising Wind: Black Americans and U.S. Foreign Affairs, 1935-1960 (University of North Carolina Press, 1996).

Bernard Porter, Critics of Empire: British Radical Attitudes to Colonialism in Africa 1895-1914 (Macmillan, 1968).

Leila J. Rupp, Worlds of Women: The Making of an International Women’s Movement (Princeton University Press, 1997).

Bernard Semmel, The Liberal Ideal and the Demons of Empire: Theories of Imperialism from Adam Smith to Lenin (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993).

Ian Tyrrell and Jay Sexton, Empire’s Twin: U.S. Anti-Imperialism from the Founding Era to the Age of Terrorism (Cornell University Press, 2015).

Penny M. Von Eschen, Race against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937-1957 (Cornell University Press, 1997).

W. A. Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (1959).

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Key words search

Empire; Imperialism; Critics