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Unit information: Decolonisation in 2021/22

Unit name Decolonisation
Unit code HIST20116
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Mukherjee
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This course covers the interconnected histories of empires, independence movements and decolonisation in twentieth-century Africa and Asia. It sets out to trace the decline of imperial systems from multiple perspectives, and examine the making of the postcolonial world in the context of two world wars and global economic shifts. Central themes covered in this unit are: imperialism and nationalism, liberation movements, Cold War diplomacy and global governance, and population and cultural transfers. We also examine the ways in which the end of empire was imagined in Asia and Africa, and bolstered by notions of solidarity among a new generation of political leaders, women, activists, and intellectuals. 

In this unit, we ask the following core questions: what drove the process of decolonisation? How has the end of empire traditionally been understood? By what means, and with what success, did Asian and African politicians build nations in the period before and after decolonisation? How might we compare the afterlives of empire in Britain and the post-colonial world? To answer these questions the unit will analyse and evaluate a wide and diverse range of relevant primary source material including official documents, conference reports, newspapers, films, personal testimonies, and literature. Students will assess the historiographical context and trends of the topic to offer a critical understanding of decolonisation. They will have the opportunity to improve their reading, writing, presentation, and oral skills through the writing of essays and class papers, participation in seminar discussion, and engagement with primary source material.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the main developments in the history of decolonization and postcolonial nation-building.
  2. Respond critically to the terms and approaches used by historians to analyse decolonisation
  3. Discuss and evaluate the key historiographical debates surrounding decolonisation and postcolonial nation-building
  4. Understand and interpret primary sources and select pertinent evidence in order to illustrate specific and more general historical points
  5. Present their research and judgements in written and oral forms and styles appropriate to the discipline and to level I

Teaching Information

Classes will involve a combination of long- and short-form lectures, class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Information

1 x 2500-word Essay (50%) [ILOs 1-5]; 1 x Timed Assessment (50%) [ILOs 1-5]; 1 x Formative Oral Presentation [ILO 5]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. HIST20116).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.