Churchill and the Empire, 1874-1965: Context (HIH3256)

StaffProfessor Richard Toye - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesAt least 90 credits in History at level 1 and/or level 2
Co-requisitesHIH3255 (Sources)
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module examines Winston Churchill's attitude to the British Empire in the context of the experiences and opinions of his contemporaries. He said himself that he aimed throughout his career at 'the maintenance of the enduring greatness of Britain and her Empire'. But this strong rhetorical commitment should not be taken entirely at face value: he seized on matters relating to the Empire when he thought they would be of use to him politically, and neglected them at other times. By the end of his career it was clear that the Empire was in terminal decline. The module will focus on the nature of Churchill's imperialism to illuminate the development - and ultimate collapse - of the Empire as a whole.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Ability to evaluate the different complex themes in Churchill's imperial attitudes
  • 2. Ability to make close specialist evaluation of the key developments within British politics in relation to the Empire as a whole, developed through independent study and seminar work

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Ability to analyse the key developments within a particular political environment
  • 4. Ability to focus on and comprehend complex issues
  • 5. Ability to understand and deploy political and imperial terminology in a comprehensible manner
  • 6. Ability to follow the complex reasoning inherent in imperial discourse, and to analyse different 'imperialisms'

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

Syllabus plan

The module will focus on the following subjects: the origins and context of Churchill's imperial thought; his early experiences as a soldier and journalist in imperial war; Churchill at the Colonial Office 1905-08; the link between Empire and social reform in the Edwardian period; the imperial politics of WWI; Churchill and Ireland; T.E. Lawrence and the Middle east settlement of 1901; Churchill's India campaign in the 1930s; the Empire and 'appeasement'; Churchill and the rhetoric of Empire during WWII; and the adjustment to decolonization after 1945

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 and presentations

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
Better of two essay marks332 x 3000 wordsVerbal and written
Unseen Exam672 questions in 2 hoursWritten

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Christopher Catherwood, Winston's Folly: Imperialism and the Creation of Modern Iraq, (Constable, 2004).
Charmley, John, Churchill: The End of Glory: A Political Biography, (Hodder and Stoughton, 1993).
Ronald Hyam, Elgin and Churchill a the Colonial Office 1905-1908 : The Watershed of the Empire-Commonwealth, (Macmillan, 1968).
Peter T. Marsh, Joseph Chamberlain: Entrepreneur in Politics, (Yale University Press, 1994).
Lawrence James, Raj : The Making and Unmaking of British India, (Little, Brown and Co., 1997).
Andrew Roberts, Eminent Churchillians, (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1994).

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?