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Unit information: Empire in 2015/16

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Unit name Empire
Unit code POLI30004
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Hewitt
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

The unit sets out to explore and analyse the role and meanings that tropes and images of Empire have to a contemporary audience, and to historicise and interpret their influence on a variety of subjects and issue areas. The first part of the unit sets out a series of methodologies and historiographies to clarify how Empire can be used and understood and then proceeds to organise itself chronologically and thematically: the images of Rome on classical images of law, governance and order, their refraction and reinterpretation through Byzantine 'intricacy'; Christian theological texts (400-1000 CE), English and British colonial thinking and organisation, and then three examples of contemporary tropes: The Third Reich, the rise of the US, and the European Union. The unit will then explore a series of topics - architecture and public space, law and the citizen, Empire, sex and identity, and Empire as world order. The aims of the unit is to equip students from across the social sciences with analytical skills to interpret and evaluate the extent to which tropes of Empire act as constant sources of cultural and political capital in the 21st century, as well as to look at the processes of 'writing and re-writing' history in changing political and social contexts.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  1. Awareness of the role and importance of imperial tropes and imagining in 21st century western society.
  2. Ability to identify, critique and defend different interpretations of Empire and their influence on a wide variety of contemporary society and politics. Understanding of the complexity of the problems facing policy makers attempting to stay the pandemic.
  3. To be skilled in specific methodologies of historical interpretation and analysis.

Teaching Information

A 1hr lecture and 2 hour seminar

The following methods will be outlined and used in the seminars:

  • Listening and speaking in discussion
  • Note taking
  • Essay writing
  • In- seminar debate
  • Independent research
  • Seminar presentation

Assessment Information

  • Project outline with annotated bibliography, subject agreed with the tutor.(formative)
  • A 3500 word research paper to be conducted and submitted at the end of the semester.

The assessment methods for this unit are designed to ensure that students engage, in-depth, across the unit syllabus as a whole. In so doing, they will cover all of the learning objectives.

Formative assessment requires each student to devise a project in consultation with the tutor and to prepare and submit it, along with an annotated bibliography, by a specific date. Feedback information will be provided.

Reading and References

  • Greg Thomas. The Sexual Demon of Colonial Power: Pan African Embodiment and Erotic Schemes of Empire. Indiana University Press. 2007.
  • Catherine Edwards (Ed). Roman Presences: Receptions of Rome in European Culture.1789-1945. Cambridge University Press 1999
  • Anthony Pagden The Idea of Europe: From Antiquity to the European Union. Cambridge University Press 2002
  • Alex Callinicos. Theories and Narratives: Reflections on the Philosophy of History. Polity Press1995.
  • Donald Kelley. Frontiers of History: Historical Enquiry in the 20th Century. 2006.
  • Edward Said. Culture and Imperialism. London 1993.