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Trans-Asian Trade along the Silk Roads, 1000-1200 - HIS00138M

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Dilnoza Duturaeva
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

Trans-Asian trade along the Silk Roads occurred during one of the most turbulent phases in its history in the period between the fall of the Tang dynasty and the rise of the Mongols. Political instability in Central and North Asia and the withdrawal of the Tang dynasty from the Western Regions restricted access to the caravan routes that had connected China and Central Asia since ancient times. However, trade always found a way of circumventing barriers; and without sharing goods, ideas and knowledge, the world in the 10th-12th centuries would have been poorer. Moreover, it is difficult to imagine that the Silk Roads declined in this era when the Song dynasty, as all Chinese dynasties, retained a high demand for horses, the beasts of burden for long-distance trade.

This module provides a Central Asian perspective on how trans-Asian trade functioned during a period of political upheaval and explores in particular the “renewal” of the Silk Roads in the eleventh century. We will study the effects of Central Asian politics on the international trade between China, India, Iran and Anatolia and explore commodity and exchange in the history of Central Eurasia, focusing on the period when it was not only silk that was a major primary commodity transported from China to Central Asia and beyond. Through dynastic histories, official documents, history works, diaries and travelogues as well as art objects and historical maps we will examine trade and economic diplomacy between China and the “West” along the global caravan routes.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

The aims of this module are to:

  • Develop skills of source analysis and interpretation
  • Assess a range of source material and relevant secondary works; and
  • Develop students’ powers of evidence-based historical argument, both orally and in writing.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of a specialist historiographical literature;
  • Present findings in an analytical framework derived from a specialist field;
  • Solve a well-defined historiographical problem using insights drawn from secondary and, where appropriate, primary sources.
  • Set out written findings using a professional scholarly apparatus.

Module content

Students will attend a 1-hour briefing in week 1. Students will then attend a 2-hour seminar in weeks 2-4, 6-8 and 10-11. Weeks 5 & 9 are Reading and Writing (RAW) weeks during which there are no seminars, and during which students research and write a formative essay, consulting with the module tutor. Students prepare for eight seminars in all.

Seminar topics are subject to variation, but are likely to include the following:

  1. Asia in 1000-1200
  2. Song China and Central Asia
  3. Liao China and the Islamic World
  4. The Tanguts and Overland Trade
  5. China, India and Iran: Global Caravan and Maritime Routes
  6. When not only Silk was Gold: Tea-Horse Trade
  7. Baltic Amber in China
  8. Between Arabia and China: Frankincense Trade


Task Length % of module mark
Long Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students submit a 2,000-word formative essay in week 9.
A 4,000-word summative essay will be due in the assessment period.


Task Length % of module mark
Long Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will typically receive written feedback on their formative essay within 10 working days of submission.

Work will be returned to students in their seminars and may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole group. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their formative essay during their tutor’s student hours—especially during week 11, before, that is, they finalise their plans for the Summative Essay.

For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 25 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For reading during the module, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

  • Valerie Hansen. The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World and Globalization Began (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2020).
  • Hyunhee Park. Mapping the Chinese and Islamic worlds: cross-cultural exchange in the Pre-modern Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).
  • Liu Xinru. The Silk Road in World History (Oxford: Oxford University, 2010).

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.