Skip to main content

Unit information: American Empire in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name American Empire
Unit code HIST30043
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Julio Decker
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit explores the significance of Empire and imperialism for nineteenth- and twentieth-century American history. Following a chronological order, it explores ideas about American exceptionalism used in continental and overseas expansion. The reading and discussion privileges two perspectives: on the one hand, the mutual dependence of domestic cultural, social and economic processes and imperial expansion is investigated in detail. On the other hand, the course includes transnational and inter-imperial connections, exploring how the American Empire built on and related to imperial predecessors and colonial models such as the British Empire.


  • To enable students to explore continuities and historical changes in the conceptions and practices of American Empire
  • To develop further students' ability to work with primary sources
  • To develop further students' abilities to integrate both primary and secondary source material into a wider historical analysis
  • To develop further students' ability to learn independently within a small-group context.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit students will have:

1. Developed an in-depth understanding of the concepts and practices that shaped American imperialism

2. developed a high level of competency in identifying complex historical arguments and use selected secondary sources for their essays

3. a high degree of competency in working with an increasingly specialist range of primary sources

4. an ability to formulate independent lines of thought and to express these with a high level of accomplishment.

Teaching Information

Weekly 2 hour seminars

Assessment Information

3500 word essay (50%) and 2 hour exam (50%). Both assessments test ILOs 1 to 4.

Reading and References

Richard H. Immerman, Empire for Liberty. A History of American Imperialism from Benjamin Franklin to Paul Wolfowitz, 2010.

Paul Kramer, The Blood of Government. Race, Empire, the United States & the Philippines, 2006.

Charles Maier, Among Empires. American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors, 2006.

Alfred W. McKoy; Francisco A. Scarano (eds.): The Colonial Crucible. Empire in the Making of the American State, 2009.

Frank Ninkovich, The United States and Imperialism, 2001