This introductory course surveys global political history from around 500CE right up to the present day. But this is no simple narrative of political events leading from the classical world to Western democracy. On the contrary, this course challenges students to understand political history through its most important concepts, such as states, power, identity, and conflict. The course proceeds on a broad chronological basis, introducing students to some crucial structures in the history of political formations – from the complex early states of medieval Europe to the persistence of monarchy across the modern world – and to moments of decisive change in the form of rebellions, revolutions, and wars.
The primary focus will be on the conceptual underpinnings of politics and the way that historians should attempt to understand political history. How do we understand power? What was government for? Why do we (still) write histories of nation-states? How do we know when a revolution has taken place? How do gender and race challenge our understanding of politics? The course helps students to think more expansively about political history and, in doing so, aims to unsettle assumptions about how the modern world, its politics and states, came to look the way that they do.
|A||Autumn Term 2022-23|
The aims of this module are:
Students who complete this module successfully will have:
Teaching will be in 2 x 1 hour lectures each week in Weeks 2-9. There are 1-hour seminars in Weeks 2, 4, and 6 and 8, and 2 hour discussion seminars with formative work sessions in Weeks 3, 5, 7, and 9. Each week students will do reading and preparation in order to be able to contribute to discussion and complete the formative skills tasks.
The provisional outline for the module is as follows:
Block 1. Cities, kingdoms, and empires
Lecture 1: Violence, debt, and documents: states before 1450
Lecture 2: “Man is a political animal”: early modern government and society
Lecture 3: Monarchs and constitutions after 1789
Lecture 4: Global city-states in the modern world
Seminar 1: Who participates in “politics”?
Seminar 2: What was the “state”?
Block 2. Power and legitimacy
Lecture 1: Sovereignty, justice, and representation: ideals of government in the pre-modern world
Lecture 2: “L’etat, c’est moi”: people and rulers in the early modern world
Lecture 3: Democracy and authority after 1789
Lecture 4: Challenging the nation in the modern world
Seminar 3: The good life: What was government for?
Seminar 4: The international order: How were relationships between states conceived?
Block 3. Nation, community, identity
Lecture 1: Languages, peoples, and cultures in the pre-modern world
Lecture 2: Communities and identities in the early modern world
Lecture 3: The birth of mass nationalism
Lecture 4: Beyond the nation
Seminar 5: The nation: is this a useful concept for historical inquiry?
Seminar 6: Race, gender, and class: who was the nation?
Block 4. Conflict and change
Lecture 1: War, rebellion, and political change in the pre-modern world
Lecture 2: What’s so good about change? Early modern perspectives on revolution
Lecture 3: Revolutionary watersheds
Lecture 4: Global revolution: it’s complicated
Seminar 7: When is a war not a war? Violence, and its resolution
Seminar 8: Revolutions and continuities
|Task||Length||% of module mark|
Essay 1500 words
Students will complete four formative assessment tasks during the autumn term, comprised of exercises on note taking; referencing; making an argument and structuring essays.
Students will work in groups to complete these tasks in tutor-led sessions, for which they will be expected to carry out preliminary reading and preparation.
Students have the option of submitting one formative essay (max 1,500 words) for each Introduction to World History module they take. These essays can be submitted in weeks 5, 6 or 7, at the student’s discretion. It is not recommended that students submit more than one essay in any single week. All students are encouraged to submit at least one essay.
Students will choose one of the four essay questions and submit a 1,500-word assessed essay in Week 10 of Autumn Term. It is worth 100% of the course mark.
|Task||Length||% of module mark|
Essay 1500 words
Students will receive verbal feedback during the formative work classes and a short written statement from their tutor within 20 working days of the class. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.
For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. For more information, see the Statement on Assessment.
For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, you might like to look at the following items of preliminary reading:
Jerry H. Bentley, The Oxford Handbook of World History (Oxford, 2011).
Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (Princeton, 2010).
Azar Gat, War in Human in Civilization (Oxford, 2006).