Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Modernity and the Making of Asia
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 5 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2,000 word essay  50%
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   1.5 hour exam  50%
Supplementary Assessment 2,000 word essay  50%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   1.5 hour exam  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

Demonstrate an understanding of the transformations that created modern Asia

Identify and explain the key historiographical debates in modern Asian history

Evaluate a range of primary sources relating to modern Asian history

Evaluate the meanings of ‘modernity’, especially in the Asian context

Demonstrate their ability to form and sustain coherent historical arguments


The module is intended to introduce students to modern Asian history in a way that is both engaging and accessible. Starting in the middle of the nineteenth century, the course will take students through the principal historical moments that created modern Asia, from the conquest of the European imperial powers, to the political developments that led to the region emerging as a collection of independent nation states. However, holding the course together will be the underlying theme of modernity, and a discussion about what it is. Generally, whilst lectures will provide historical overview, seminars will deal more specifically with themes such as urbanization, cultural transformation and nationalism. The module will utilize a range of sources, including primary materials, to explore the keys debates.


1. Asia and the birth of the modern world
2. The Taiping Rebellion and the carving up of China
3. The rise of imperial Japan
4. The Indian Mutiny and the bureaucratisation of India
5. The collapse of ancient regimes in Southeast Asia
6. The making of a migrant community: the case of Malaya
7. Railways and the creation of modern India
8. Markets and money: the casting of Asian societies
9. A tale of two Cities: Beijing and Shanghai
10. Fin de siecle Japan
11. The quest for civilisation in Siam
12. Boycotts and bonfires: consumerism and nationalism in India and China
13. Competing nations and the long Second World War
14. Propaganda and the end of empires in Southeast Asia
15. A new consumer culture: post-war Japan
16. Chinese Communism and the Cold War in Asia
17. Modernity and Development in 'Free Asia'
18. An Asian Century?

Seminar topics

1. European Colonialism
2. State Building
3. Asian nationalisms
4. Consumerism
5. What is modernity?

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number n/a
Communication Students will be encouraged to actively engage in seminar discussions, exploring a range of theoretical and historiographical issues, although this will not be assessed. They will also have to listen and take notes during lectures.
Improving own Learning and Performance Detailed feedback will be provided for essays, and students will be encouraged to use this in their overall development.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be encouraged to word-process their work. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they begin to consider potential career paths.
Problem solving Students will be expected to engage with a range of historiographical questions, and solve problems dealing with the study of modern Asia.
Research skills Students will be required to read a wide range of texts and evaluate their usefulness. Preparation for the written work and the examination will require research skills to be employed.
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop an awareness of appropriate sources and historical literature associated with study of modern Asia.
Team work Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 4