The University of Newcastle, Australia
Not currently offered
Course code



20 units


3000 level

Course handbook


This course provides an introduction to the history of colonies and empires from 1776 to 1950. It covers the rise and fall of the British Empire -- the greatest empire the world has known -- from the loss of the American colonies to decolonization in the twentieth century. It will interrogate ideas of imperialism and colonialism, explore the subjection and resistance of indigenous and colonised people under empire, and assess the enduring legacy of the imperial idea in post-colonial societies across the globe.


Not currently offered.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge of the major events in British imperial history from 1776 - 1950

2. Discuss the key debates and different perspectives that have been applied to understanding imperialism and colonialism

3. Conduct research independently

4. Express clear and informed arguments, either orally or in writing, on the history of imperialism and colonialism

5. Demonstrate an understanding of transnational history.


The course will be taught in a modular format will cover some of the following topics:

  • What is an empire?/colony?;
  • the rise and fall of empires from Babylon to Bush;
  • first and second British empires;
  • exploration, science and imperial adventures;
  • the British Empire and its colonies in the 19th century (case studies may cover India, Ireland, West Indies, British North America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand);
  • crises of empire (case studies may include anti-slavery campaign; Maori wars; Indian Uprising; Boer War) Colonialism, colonisation and resistance;
  • Indigenous people;
  • Missions and missionaries;
  • Networks of empire;
  • Gender and empire;
  • the Tasman world;
  • the end of empire;
  • post-colonial states.

Assumed knowledge

A general knowledge of history will be assumed equivalent to that acquired in two ten-unit courses of history. No previous study of imperial history will be assumed.

Assessment items

Essay: Minor essay

Essay: Major essay

Quiz: 6 x fortnightly quizzes on tutorial readings

In Term Test: Examination: Class