Intercollegiate modules

Below is a list of intercollegiate modules available to students from partner University of London colleges as part of the History intercollegiate scheme.

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Group II modules (30 credits)

Britain Through the Lens

This module looks at the changing ways in which experiences, identities and social issues have been represented on the screen in Britain, in order to explore the social and cultural history of Britain in the twentieth century and the ways in which social ‘problems’ are identified and responded to by different groups in society.

Topics and films may vary from year to year but they will normally focus on Britain from the 1940s to the end of the twentieth century. Between the 1920s and the 1950s cinema-going was the main form of leisure for large sections of society; films have been a key aspect of the media since before the Second World War.

The way in which films reflect and highlight popular attitudes and preoccupations, as well as generating views that film makers regard as desirable will be critically analysed.

The module will involve a knowledge of the issues dealt with in specific films and an ability to place these issues in an historical context; an analysis of the films themselves in terms of themes, representations and treatment of subjects. Students will therefore, be familiar with the historical context and the particular analysis of the films.

Empires in Comparative Perspective

This module examines the significance of empires in history through a comparative survey of the vast land empires of Asia and ‘modern’ European maritime empires. The module begins with an examination of the varying understandings of empire, imperialism and colonialism. It questions how empires develop, thrive and fall.

The first term highlights the different component parts of empire – including bureaucracy, ideology, military strength, and culture through a study of land empires in ancient and early modern India and Eurasia. The second half of the course shifts to explore ‘modern’, European imperialism, beginning with the Portuguese and Dutch maritime empires and the rise of the English East India Company.

We then focus on different themes within ‘modern’ European imperialism, including ideology, race, religion, and nature. The module concludes with the question of the enduring legacies of empire today and asks how we might begin to redress some of these issues.

 

Introduction to the History of the Modern Middle East

This course offers a general overview to the history of the Middle East from the decline of Ottoman rule in the area in the late 19th century until the present. The course focuses on political, social, and cultural trends that shaped the history of the region vis-à-vis the intervention of foreign colonial powers, the rise of nationalistic and Islamic movements and the place of the region as a geo-economic strategic place in the 20th century.

The module is divided in two parts. During the first ten weeks, we will look at the history of the Middle East from an overarching perspective, discussing key elements and concepts that will helps us convey a holistic picture of the region. Topics include colonialism, nationalism, Pan-Arabism, Pan-Islamism, women, religious and ethnic minorities.

The second part will be dedicated to the study of specific case-studies that will inform a more nuanced understanding of the different areas. Cases studied will include, for example, the formation of the Republic of Turkey, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The goal of the course is to go beyond stereotypes that overburden our understanding of the region and its peoples.

Modern Revolutions in Comparative Perspective

In this module we will explore the history of modern revolutions. Examples will include the American, French, Russian, and Chinese Revolutions, but also mid-20th century anti- colonial revolutions and history still in the making—the ‘Arab Spring’.

We will scrutinise various definitions of revolutions, compare their course and causes, examine revolutionary symbols and rituals, identify winners and losers, analyse the ideas underpinning revolutions and try to grapple with the disturbing phenomenon of extreme violence in the name of extremely good causes.

 

Group III modules (60 credits)

Healing, Magic and Mindfulness on the Silk Roads

While history of medicine is usually taught focusing primarily on either ‘western’ or ‘eastern’ traditions, this module will focus on transmissions of knowledge along the Silk Roads. More than just routes on which missionaries, travellers and merchants moved between east and west Asia, the Silk Roads has become a metaphor of east-west connections.

This module will deal with Asian medical traditions as they are represented in manuscripts found in sites along the Silk-Roads, primarily the Dunhuang caves and Turfan. The discussion of these medical traditions will be contextualised within the multi- cultural aspects of the Silk-Roads and within processes of transmission of knowledge along the Silk Roads. The module will also deal with the historical background leading to the discovery of the Silk Road sites and with how the internet is transforming research of the Silk Road.

The primary sources used in this module will mostly consist of manuscripts found in Dunhuang (in translation from Chinese, Tibetan, Khotanese and Uighur) as well as visual material and artefacts from the Silk Roads. The texts and artefacts mostly date from the later centuries of the first millennium.

The module will include a visit to the British Library to see some of the Dunhuang manuscripts and meet with some of the International Dunhuang Project staff. It will also include a visit to the British Museum to see some of the artefacts and artwork from Dunhuang.

Ireland's First World War

This module focuses on the day-to-day experiences of Irish soldiers in the British army. It considers connections between the war and wider Irish politics, including the development of the Irish Revolution.

Ireland’s engagement with the First World War was profoundly connected with the politics of the day and the development of the Irish Revolution. Memory of the conflict remains live in today’s politics, with the war playing a central role in unionist identity formation and expression, and nationalist attitudes continuing to change. Meanwhile, the history of Ireland’s First World War is intimately connected to two wider contexts.

First, there is the wider United Kingdom’s war and the way that is remembered through the influence of popular culture. Images of slaughter, mud and poor leadership dominate a public view which thinks of the lucky few who came back, even though fatality rates were around 12% of those who served. Second, in relation to national identity, Ireland’s war can be compared to the experiences of other parts of the British Empire.

Mughals, Munshis and Mistresses: Society and Rule in Early Colonial India

The module explores the transition from Mughal rule to British colonial rule in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries focusing on social and cultural history related to the ‘Company Raj’. It examines the interface between ‘Indian’ and ‘European’ forms of rule, and what each meant at this time.

We discuss Indian rulers, intermediaries and collaborators in the context of how each shaped early colonial rule in areas of law, education and revenue. We then turn our attention to a series of contemporary social debates on the family, sati, education, widow remarriage and social ‘vices’, in order to gain a fuller understanding of this dynamic period in Indian history.

For details of how to apply, please contact the programme administrator in your department.