Colonial Conflict, Normative Violence and Human Rights (HISM177)

StaffProfessor Martin Thomas - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The aim of this module is to allow students to study the collapse of European colonial control in the late twentieth century from a comparative perspective.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate a detailed understanding of key themes and issues in the history of twentieth-century colonial conflict and European decolonization
  • 2. Demonstrate an awareness of historiographical and theoretical debates around decolonization, trans-national comparisons between empires and the complexities of the transfer of power
  • 3. Demonstrate an understanding of the nature and significance of colonial disorder, nationalist protest and imperial withdrawal in the late twentieth century
  • 4. Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of a wide selection of primary source materials and be able to evaluate their historical value critically
  • 5. Demonstrate an ability to evaluate different disciplinary perspectives on themes related to decolonisation

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 6. Demonstrate the ability to synthesise and analyse widely different types of historical material and evidence
  • 7. Identify and understand the nature of original sources
  • 8. Demonstrate a critical understanding of key historical concepts and debates
  • 9. Research independently and present interpretations of different historical issues

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. Demonstrate a capacity for independent critical study and thought
  • 11. Apply key bibliographical skills to independent study
  • 12. Construct and defend a sustained argument, both in written form and orally, using primary and secondary materials
  • 13. Work as an individual and with the tutor and their peers in an independent, constructive and responsive way (e.g. lead a group discussion or task)
  • 14. Analyse, summarise and organize material to produce a coherent and cogent argument within specific deadlines

Syllabus plan

  •     The Origins of Decolonisation: European experiences before 1939

  •     The Impact of World War: Development, Reconstruction and Colonial Change

  •     Quitting India? South Asia’s Decolonisation and Partition

  •     Colonial Conflict, Communalism and Cold War I: the Indochina War

  •     Colonial Conflict, Communalism and Cold War II: the Malayan Emergency

  •     Nationalism in, Federalism or Balkanization: the Gold Coast/Ghana and French West Africa

  •     Settler Societies and Colonial War I: Mau Mau Rebellion in Kenya

  •     Settler Societies and Colonial war II: The Algerian War

  •     Settler Societies and Colonial War II: Conflict in Portuguese Africa

  •     A Cold War Proxy? The Congo Crisis

  •     Decolonisation Reviewed

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
Seminars22Students will be required to undertake preparatory reading of primary and secondary materials. Group and/or individual presentations will serve as the basis for the discussion guided by the module tutor(s).
TutorialsTBAEssays will be assigned, discussed and returned in individual tutorials.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan x 22 sides A4 maximum1-14Oral in personal tutorial
Presentation15-20 minutes1-14Oral in seminar and tutorial

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
Essay373000 words1-14Mark, written comments and oral feedback
Essay383000 words1-14Mark, written comments and oral feedback
Individual presentation2525-30 minutes1-14Mark, written comments and oral feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay 1 and 22 x 3 000 word essays1-14Within time period specified by the board
Individual presentationIn accordance with the CHUMS Handbook for Taught Students either undertake a fresh presentation or substitute a piece of written work1-14Within time period specified by the board

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Other resources

A. Clayton, The Wars of French Decolonization (London: Longman, 1994)

F. Cooper and A.-L. Stoler (eds), Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997)

J. Darwin, Britain and Decolonisation: The Retreat from Empire in the Post-War World (London: Macmillan, 1988)

J. De La Sueur, The Decolonization Reader (London: Routledge, 2003)

R. F. Holland, European Decolonization, 1918-1981 (London: Macmillan, 1981)

J. Kent, America, the UN and Decolonization: Cold War Conflict in the Congo (London: Routledge, 2010).

N. MacQueen, The Decolonization of Portuguese Empire. Metropolitan Revolution and the Dissolution of Empire (London: Longman, 1997)

M. Shipway, Decolonization and Its Impact: A Comparative Approach to the End of Colonial Empires (Oxford; Wiley-Blackwell, 2007).

 M. Thomas, B. Moore and L.J. Butler, Crises of Empire: Decolonization and Europe’s Imperial States, 1918-1975he French Empire between the Wars: Imperialism, Politics and Society (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2008).

Available as distance learning?


Origin date

14 May 2012

Last revision date

7 June 2012