Skip to main content

Unit information: The British World (Lecture Response Unit) 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 The British World (Lecture Response Unit)
Unit code HISTM0057
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Potter
Open unit status Not open




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


During the second half of the nineteenth century, ‘explosive colonisation’ transformed Britain’s hitherto modest outposts in North America and Australasia, creating ‘New Britains’ in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. This course examines this process and its consequences, looking at the economic, demographic, cultural and sentimental connections that created and sustained the British world. Drawing on a wealth of recent historical writing and readily available primary material, we may consider topics such as the particular role played by women in building this new order, the subordinate and precarious position of indigenous peoples and non-whites, the role of sports and the mass media in promoting national and imperial identities, and the function discharged by the monarchy in providing a focus for imperial loyalties. We may also discuss why South Africa never fitted comfortably into the British world, why attempts to unite the British world economically and constitutionally largely failed, and how and why the British world unravelled in the 1950s and 1960s.

Intended learning outcomes

1. To give students a broad understanding of the development of the ‘British world’ in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

2. To improve students’ ability to argue effectively and at length (including an ability to cope with complexities and to describe and deploy these effectively).

3. To be able to display high level skills in selecting, applying, interpreting and organising information, including evidence of a high level of bibliographical control.

4. To develop the ability of students to evaluate and/or challenge current scholarly thinking.

5. To foster student’s capacity to take a critical stance towards scholarly processes involved in arriving at historical knowledge and/or relevant secondary literature.

6. To be able to demonstrate an understanding of concepts and an ability to conceptualise.

7. To develop students’ capacity for independent research.

Teaching details

1 x 2-hour interactive lecture per week.

Assessment Details

One summative coursework essay of 5000 words (100%). This will assess ILOs 1-7.

Reading and References

James Belich, Replenishing the Earth: the settler revolution and the rise of the Angloworld (Oxford, 2009)

Gary B. Magee and Andrew S. Thompson, Empire and Globalisation: networks of people, goods and capital in the British world, c. 1850-1914 (Cambridge, 2010)

Phillip Buckner and R. Douglas Francis (eds.), Rediscovering the British World (Calgary, 2005)

Carl Bridge and Kent Fedorowich (eds.), The British World: diaspora, culture and identity (London, 2003), also published as a special issue of the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 31/2 (May 2003)

Richard Jebb, Studies in Colonial Nationalism (London, 1905) (available free online at