The British Empire and India, 1757-1947 ESH4088

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The course will explore the history of Britain's Indian Empire from the formal establishment of East India Company rule in 1757 until India's independence in 1947. A central theoretical focus of the course will be comparative and transnational history perspectives, which will tease out the complexities of the contact between the coloniser and the colonised. The lectures will examine the impact of British colonialism on Indian politics, economy, society and culture in this period, and the consequences of Britain's interactions with India and Indians for British society and social relationships. They will discuss how specific aspects of colonialism such as political ideology, citizenship, state formation, knowledge production, education, law, science and medicine, leisure, and religion shaped Indian and British society. Delivering critical analysis of the changing nature and local variations of the analytics of race, class and gender in the modern world, this course will challenge students to think about various interpretations of modern imperialism as a globalising, exploitative, and generative force.


Lecture: one hour per week for ten weeks

Seminar: one hour per week for ten weeks

Requirements of Entry

Enrolment in the BA programme


60%: An end-term examination based on the knowledge gained from the course; 90 mins, students will be asked to choose 2 questions from a range of seven.

20%: An essay, 2000 words ±10%

20%: Oral presentation based on the review of a set reading.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The module aims to:

■ Develop the ability to critically analyse arguments on the British Empire offered by different historiographical schools.

■ Familiarise students with methods of interpreting a wide range of sources including texts, images, and films related to modern India.

■ Develop the skill to articulate arguments based on reading of primary and secondary sources orally and in writing through discussions, presentations, and essays.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Interpret the nature and impact of British colonialism on the making of modern India.

■ Understand and apply different approaches to analysing the history of modern Indian society.

■ Evaluate the wider intellectual and political contexts within which the knowledge of Indian society has been produced in the colonial period.

■ Articulate arguments based on reading of primary and secondary sources orally and in writing through discussions, presentation and written answers.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 80% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.