Colonial Conflict and Decolonization 1918-1975: Sources (HIH3250)

StaffProfessor Martin Thomas - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesAt least 90 credits in History at level 1 and/or level 2
Co-requisitesHIH3251 (Context)
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module will use a variety of primary and secondary sources to study late European colonialism and anti-colonial protest. It will study imperial policies and colonial living conditions; popular imperialism in French and British politics and culture; forms of colonial nationalism; and wars of decolonization. Written records to be consulted include published government documents, military reports from French and British colonial territories, as well as diplomatic and colonial government correspondence relating to colonial Africa and Asia. Most of this material is in English, in the few instance where French language material is used, the tutor will offer full translation support to students. Oral testimony, memoirs, colonial novels, and political party documents will also be studied (all in English). Some use will also be made of visual sources relating to government propaganda, colonialism in advertising motifs, political posters and film. Students will be asked to consider the reliability and value to the historian of different types of source and, in particular, to explore the manner in which interpretations of empire and colonial conflict have been represented within particular social, political, and cultural contexts.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Have a detailed knowledge of the different sources available for the study of European imperialism and decolonization, together with a very close specialist knowledge of those sources which the students focus upon in their seminar presentations with written work.
  • 2. Analyse the complex diversity of the sources studied.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Analyse closely original sources and to assess their reliability as historical evidence. Ability to focus on and comprehend complex texts.
  • 4. Understand and deploy relevant historical terminology in a comprehensible manner.
  • 5. Follow theories and evaluate critically the often complex reasoning of contemporary discources

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Independently and automously study and work within a group, including presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning
  • 7. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment
  • 8. Present complex arguments orally.
  • 10. Present complex arguments orally.

Syllabus plan

The module will examine primary sources relating to the following subjects: European empires after the First World War; inter-war colonial reform and methods of rule; popular imperialism in France and Britain; empire and international politics; the Second World War and colonial change; patterns of post-war decolonization; colonial conflicts and ‘popular liberation struggles’ in Africa and South-East Asia.

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 activities44Seminars (22x2hr)
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.1-6, 8Oral 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
Portfolio702 assignments totalling 4000 words1-7Verbal and written
Individual presentation3020-30 minutes1-8Verbal and written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PortfolioPortfolio1-7Referral/deferral period.
PresentationWritten transcript of 20 minute presentation.1-8

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment consists of a 4,000 word portfolio of source work, as in the original assessment, but replaces the individual presentation with a written script that could be delivered in such a presentation and which is the equivalent of 20 minutes of speech.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Anthony Burgess, The Malayan Trilogy (London: Heinemann, 1984)
Albert Camus, The First Man (Penguin Modern Classics, 1995)
James D. Le Sueur (ed), Mouloud Feraoun, Journal, 1955-1962: Reflections on the French Algerian War (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2000)
Robert Delavignette, Freedom and Authority in French West Africa (London: Frank Cass, 1968)
Margery Perham, Colonial sequence, 1930 to 1949 : a chronological commentary upon British colonial policy especially in Africa (London: Methuen, 1967)
1945-1946. Le Retour de la France en Indochine (Vincennes, 1987), and Indochine 1947 Règlement politique ou solution militaire? (Vincennes, 1989). Two volumes of documents on the first phase of the Indochina war.
La Guerre d’Algérie par les Documents (Vincennes, 1990). Two volumes of Defence Ministry documents on the early development of the Algerian revolution after 1945.
British Documents on the End of Empire. Various volumes on British colonial territories, imperial policies, and decolonization.
British Documents on Foreign Affairs: Selections from the Foreign Office Confidential Print. Foreign Office records for Africa and the Middle East.
Documents Diplomatiques Français, (Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 1979 et seq). The volumes contain various diplomatic reports on colonial events throughout the period 1919-1964.

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Key words search

Empires, Europe, Colonialism, Decolonization