• Offered by School of Politics and International Relations
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Political Science

The course explores the concept and form of empire through an engagement with recent European history and various normative theories regarding the effects, operations and functioning of empire. This course content proceeds in the following way. It begins with the American Empire debate which erupted in the mainstream press and scholarly publications to situate the return of the word 'empire' to the scholarly and popular lexicon in the late twentieth century. It combines a narrative historical perspective on European colonial history while exploring different theoretical approaches to understanding empires, what they are and how they function. These approaches will include perspectives from political sociology (such as SN Eisenstadt's The Political Systems of Empires), international relations (Michael Doyle and more recent Network centric IR approaches), and classical and current theories of economic imperialism (going back to Hobson, Schumpeter, and Lenin, but also, more recent Marxist contributions such as David Harvey and Hardt and Negri), and cultural, anthropological and historical perspectives (such as those found under the influence of post-colonial theory). The course will also look at other ways in which the words ‘empire’ and ’imperialism’ have been used as an analytic, such as cultural imperialism in early globalisation theory and Media or corporate empires. The aim of the course is to examine and assess in comparative frame the different kinds of analytical tools that might be applied to the study of empire. In the final section of the course, we return to contemporary debates around the US as a figure of empire, and we examine what might be at stake in these debates, (why empire, why now?). Finally, we explore what empire as a political form or category of analysis contributes to our understanding of global politics.

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Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed two first year Political Science courses or with permission of the Course Convenor.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3606 20 Jul 2015 07 Aug 2015 31 Aug 2015 30 Oct 2015 In Person N/A

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