Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Ending European Empires
Academic Year
Semester 2

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 6 x 2 hour seminars and 3 hours of tutorials


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment ONE ASSESSED ESSAY OF 6,000 WORDS.  1x 4,000 word unassessed piece of work is also required  100%
Supplementary Assessment A NEW ESSAY OF 6,000 WORDS ON A DIFFERENT TOPIC  100%

Brief description

In a very short period (roughly 1947-65) the major colonial empires were either lost or wrested from European control. Given the role of Empire in international understandings - and self-understandings- of some of the major European powers, this was of huge importance. Belgium, Britain, France and Portugal and their colonial territories were as deeply marked by the processes which ended empire as they were by colonial rule itself. Yet there was no single process of decolonization. There were instead a series of dissimilar processes whose shape was dictated by the immense variety of colonial experiences. By examining individual case- studies, students will be required to think about the balance of arguments which have suggested that end of empires are best explained by nationalist pressure and those which argue that this was the result of pragmatic colonial policies. To make this work, students will have to grasp both the policy imperatives of the metropoles and the ambitions and programmes of particular nationalist movements. There is now an abundance of primary material which encourages an even-handed analysis of the intentions of all the actors. The approach will be primarily political but as politicians were profoundly influenced by a much wider context, students will be encouraged to make full use of the products of contemporary popular culture ? art, poetry, novels, film as well as the Press- as well as the available primary and secondary literature.


This module introduces students to current, unresolved debates on the proximate causes of one of the most significant processes of the second half of the 20th century and equips them to understand it through examining some of the contemporary primary sources as well as the secondary historical literature.


This module is at CQFW Level 7