Imperialism and Decolonisation

Module code: HS2314

At the beginning of the 20th century the British Empire covered a fifth of the world’s land surface and contained almost a quarter of the world’s population. Less than sixty years later it was rapidly disintegrating. How and why did a small island achieve such imperial domination? How did contemporary commentators justify such imperial expansion? What – if anything – did ordinary Britons think about their empire? And why did it ultimately fall apart so quickly?

You’ll be focusing mainly on the period between the ‘Scramble for Africa’ and the era of decolonisation after the Second World War. The first half of this course examines the causes of imperial expansion, the ideologies of empire, and the mechanisms of colonial control. The second half of the module explores the rise of nationalist movements, first in India and then in Africa, and the reasons for European decolonisation.

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