Skip to main content

Britannia's Embrace: The British Empire and the World


Module description

In this module we focus on the history, nature and consequences of British rule in India, Australasia, Africa and the Caribbean from the mid-eighteenth century to the  present. Beginning with the Atlantic revolutions and the toehold established by the East India Company on the Indian subcontinent in the eighteenth century, in the first half of the module we will trace the development of the empire in Australia and Africa, concluding with the ‘scramble’ for global real estate in the period leading up to World War I.

We then examine the waning of Britain’s global hegemony with detailed case studies of the impact of the two world wars and anti-colonial nationalist movements and address the diverse contexts and different outcomes of planned decolonisations, anti-colonial insurgencies, partitions (India/Pakistan and Palestine) and ‘delayed’ decolonisations (Southern Africa).

We conclude by exploring how post-war British politics, society and culture have been shaped by legacies of empire, whether in the form of ‘ethnic’ restaurants, political debates on immigration and multiculturalism, or the recent rekindling of interest in trading with the Commonwealth.