Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Mutually Exclusive

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 18 x 50 minutes
Seminars / Tutorials 5 x 50 minutes


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 X 2,500 WORD ESSAY  30%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   1 X 2-HOUR WRITTEN EXAM  70%
Supplementary Assessment ANY MISSING WRITTEN WORK  30%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   1 X 2-HOUR WRITTEN EXAM  70%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate understanding and ability to critically assess a corpus of historical knowledge concerning the political and social history of imperial Britain

Demonstrate understanding of the main ways in which British society was influenced by the experience of empire in the period under study, including factors of culture, identity and ideology.

Evaluate different types of historical sources, focusing on secondary literature.

Express understanding with increasing fluency and maturity, and discuss historical problems within an academic context.

Work independently and collaboratively, and take part in group discussions (not formally assessed)

Brief description

This module will focus on Britain, its experience of being the world's pre-eminent power in the `Age of Empire', and how this experience shaped the politics, identity and culture of its people. Beginning with an overview of Britain and her place in the world in the mid-19th century, students will assess the varying justifications for imperial activities abroad. The module will then use a number of selected imperial crises or turning-points to examine the impact of the Empire at home. Attitudes towards the Empire among the ruling classes and the public will be examined against the backdrop of the Sepoy Mutiny, Gladstone's Midlothian campaigns, and the Scramble for Africa. Notions of race and Britishness will be assessed, and the ways in which they were challenged in this period by events such as the Irish Home Rule Crisis will be examined. Emigration to the colonies, and related issues of cultural imperialism will be discussed. The Boer War and its aftermath will be addressed, and assessed in terms of its impact on ideas of Social Darwinism and gender. The module will conclude with an assessment of the role of Empire in the build-up to the Great War, and an overall assessment of how the imperial experience shaped British society and culture in the Victorian and Edwardian eras


This module is located firmly within recent developments in historical writing about Britain's imperial past. Over the last 20 years, historians have used the experience of Empire to examine themes in the social and cultural history of Britain. The module, therefore, will explore how the imperial experience moulded British society in the Victorian and Edwardian periods, concentrating on identity, culture, and ideas of Britain's place in the world. The module will give a broad overview of the topic, and provide an introduction for the study of nineteenth-century Britain and Europe, as well as national identities and modern British politics, in years 2 and 3.



- Introduction
- Britain and the world in the mid-19th century
- The economics of empire
- Missionaries, and the `civilizing mission'.
- The Sepoy mutiny and the end of the East India Company
- `New Imperialism' and the scramble for Africa
- Midlothian and Khartoum: public debate over Empire.
- Imperial ideas and popular culture.
- Ideas of race
- Englishness and Britishness
- The Irish home rule crisis
- Emigration to the colonies
- Sport, cultural imperialism and new identities
- The Boer War
- The aftermath of the Boer War. Social Darwinism and reform.
- Imperialism and Gender
- Imperial competition and the clouds of war in Europe
- Conclusion: the imperial experience and British society.

1. A civilizing mission? Rationales for Empire.
2. Imperial ideas and popular culture
3. Challenges to ideas of Britishness.
4. The Boer War and the fitness of the race.
5. Competition between European Empires, and the build-up to the Great War.

One individual tutorial class during the semester

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Read within different contexts and for different purposes; listen effectively; write effectively for different purposes and audiences
Improving own Learning and Performance Show awareness of learning techniques, personal needs and preferences, and obstacles to learning; design and execute realistic learning strategies.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to word-process their work and to make use of online electronic resources
Personal Development and Career planning Develop an awareness of written and oral skills, attributes and attitudes; plan and prepare for future career.
Problem solving Note problems arising from historiographical debates, note relevant historical evidence which could influence possible solutions and evaluate its advantages and drawbacks; develop independent mindset towards problem-solving.
Research skills Understand a range of research techniques; design and execute research; produce appropriate academic report.
Subject Specific Skills Understand and assess historical evidence and explore key concepts in the context of the history of Britain and Europe in the Age of Empire.
Team work Understand the concept of group dynamic; contribute to group target-setting and to planning group activities; take an active role in group activities; practice skills of discussion and persuasion.


This module is at CQFW Level 4