• Class Number 3254
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Nicholas Brown
    • Dr Nicholas Brown
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
SELT Survey Results

The modern world is a product of centuries of conflict, rivalry and strategic cooperation between empires seeking to expand or protect their power across domains spanning from economic systems to religion and culture. Throughout Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa, and the Pacific, the past 800 years have seen radical historical transformations as empires rose, sought to create and sustain the conditions of their dominance, and fell. Understanding these dynamics has also been among the most innovative areas of historical inquiry. This course explores these processes and how historians have interpreted their significance and legacies, from the Mongol conquests and the late Crusades to the present. It places the complex and always contested ‘rise of the West’ in a global frame by investigating a range of topics from Eurasian dynasties and the Spanish conquest of the Americas and the colonisation of India, Australia and New Zealand, to the Cold War. In doing so, it explores the technologies that enabled imperial growth, the ideologies that legitimated it, the resistance of many who fought against it, and associated movements of populations and international relations. Through a diversity of historical perspectives, it examines the impact of imperial exchanges in transforming institutions, environments and modes of life. 

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. demonstrate a good understanding of major transitions, processes and developments in the modern history of empires;
  2. evaluate and critically analyse case studies illustrating important themes and issues in the history of empires;
  3. conduct research critically engaging with primary resources and scholarly debates regarding empires in history;
  4. formulate logical arguments substantiated with primary source evidence and relevant historiography; and
  5. express ideas and arguments about the history of empires clearly and effectively in both oral and written modes of communication.

Required Resources

There are no prescribed texts for this course. 

The recommended text for general background is:

Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference,

(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010).

The required tutorial reading for each case study is provided on the Wattle site for this course.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • with the return of assignments;
  • through seeking a meeting with their lecturer or tutor.

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Essay style

The School of History has produced a guide to the presentation and referencing of essays – see: http://history.cass.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/History%20Essay%20Reference%20Guide%202016.pdf. Students should follow this guide, and discuss with their tutor any issues relating to these procedures which are unclear to them.

Assessment Criteria

High Distinction:

  • Work of exceptional quality showing a command of subject matter and appreciation of issues;
  • Has a clearly formulated argument which is developed throughout the work;
  • Engages the question or topic throughout the assignment;
  • Demonstrates wide reading of relevant literature;
  • Very well expressed;
  • High level of intellectual work.


  • Work of high quality showing strong grasp of subject matter and appreciation of major issues though not necessarily of the finer points;
  • Has a clear argument which may not be fully sustained throughout the work;
  • Masters most of the concepts and issues raised by the question;
  • Shows diligent research;
  • Clearly expressed;
  • Very good intellectual work.


  • Work of good quality showing an understanding of subject matter and appreciation of main issues though possibly with some lapses and inadequacies;
  • Has an argument which may not be fully sustained throughout the essay and is possibly marred by minor weaknesses;
  • Fair range of reading;
  • Well prepared and presented;
  • Expression may need improvement in places;
  • Solid intellectual work.


  • Work of fair quality showing awareness of the main issues in the question but has difficulty framing a relevant response;
  • Argument may be weak in places;
  • Takes a factual approach and does not attempt to interpret the findings;
  • Modest level of research;
  • Written expression and scholarly conventions need improvement;
  • Competent intellectual work.


  • Work of poor quality;
  • A lack of understanding or misconception of the issues and concepts raised in the question;
  • No clear argument is presented;
  • Insufficient grasp of the relevance and interrelatedness of the material being presented;
  • Poorly researched;
  • Expression that is difficult to understand;
  • Careless about scholarly conventions, spelling and other aspects of presentation.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Lecture 1: Introduction: themes and objectives Lecture 2: The discovery of the sea: the European vision of the globe Tutorial: Introduction
2 Lecture 1: A deep history of the New World: ecological and human perspectives Lecture 2: The Spanish conquest of the Americas Tutorial: Reuniting the Globe: The European encounter with the 'new world'
3 Lecture 1: Imperial Renaissance Lecture 2: Religious reformation as a cause and effect of empire Tutorial: Gunpowder empires: a military revolution
4 Lecture 1: Batyr Program Lecture 2: Bonaparte’s Egypt Tutorial: The pen is mightier than the sword: representing the Turk
5 Lecture 1: From Saint Domingue to Haiti Lecture 2: From 'plantation' to 'factory': the changing dynamics of empire Tutorial: Bonaparte's Egypt First essay due: 25 March
6 Lecture 1: The 'Second British Empire and the 'Scramble for Africa' Lecture 2: The Machine Gun and Imperial warfare Tutorial: From San Domingue to Haiti
7 Lecture 1: ‘Mediating/Multiplying Imperialisms: The SE Asian perspective’ Lecture 2: ANZAC Day - no lecture Tutorial: The British in India
8 Lecture 1: 'The empire of science' and 'settler colonialism' in the Pacific Lecture 2: Ecological imperialism: the British colonisation of Australia Tutorial: Ecological imperialism
9 Lecture 1: Masculinity and empire: Britain, Australia, North America and South Africa Lecture 2: Femininity and indigeneity: Britain, India, Australia and New Zealand Tutorial: Gender, race and empire
10 Lecture 1: The problem and opportunity of empire for the United States Lecture 2: Soft power, hard power and American Exceptionalism Tutorial: Empire by invitation: The United States and the problem of empire Second essay due: 13 May
11 Lecture 1: World Wars I & II: The end of empire? Lecture 2: 'Thinking like an empire': contemporary China Tutorial: Anti-Colonial nationalism and decolonisation
12 Lecture 1: Evil and Financial Empires Lecture 2: Review and conclusions Tutorial: Review and exam preparation

Tutorial Registration

Tutorials commence in the first week of semester, beginning 25 February. Please ensure you are enrolled in a tutorial by the start of that week, and attend it.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
First Exercise (1000 word document exercise) 20 % 25/03/2019 15/04/2019 2, 3, 4
Second Essay (2500 word research essay) 35 % 13/05/2019 31/05/2019 1, 2, 3, 4
Take Home exam – end of semester: 35 % 35 % 06/06/2019 05/07/2019 1, 2, 3, 4
Tutorial Participation 10 % 31/05/2019 22/06/2019 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.



Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 25/03/2019
Return of Assessment: 15/04/2019
Learning Outcomes: 2, 3, 4

First Exercise (1000 word document exercise)

Students should choose from one of the primary sources from weeks 1-5 and also locate one other primary source to be read in conjunction with it, and write a short (1,000 word) essay analysing the documents in relation to each other and as historical sources. The focus of this exercise is on the selection and critical analysis of primary sources as a foundation for historical research. The document you find for yourself need not be a written text – it could be a visual image, artefact, piece of music etc. – and it need not necessarily be from the same place or period, but must have some demonstrable association to the first document by way of linkage, contrast or comparison. Your selection of documents should clearly relate to one core theme arising from our discussion of empire and imperialism. The central purpose of this is task is to encourage reflection on the use of documentary sources, and investigation of how your two sources relate to each other as historical evidence.

The below questions are guidelines only.

Before analysing the contents of your chosen documents, you might consider such questions as:

-         Who were the source’s author or authors, and what do we know about them?

-         When and where were the sources produced?

-         What is the purpose (explicit / implicit / discernible) of the sources?

-         Is there a context to the sources that we need to be aware of to fully understand their purpose and the meaning?

With answers to these questions in mind, you can then move on to a consideration of the contents of the sources themselves:

-         What do the sources tell us?

-         Why are your chosen documents valuable as historical evidence?

Extra Reading: As the focus for this essay is on analysing the sources you have selected, you are not required to engage extensively with secondary material. You should – and will find it useful to - consult sufficient such material to enable you to address questions including those suggested above. Take care to include a bibliography.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 13/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 31/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

Second Essay (2500 word research essay)

Students should choose as their essay topic one of the tutorial questions from any tutorial from weeks 2-12. Each question will need to be framed by the student to support a research program and the development of an argument. Students will be assisted in this process in tutorials and are strongly encouraged to contact their tutors for guidance at an early opportunity. In selecting a question, you might consider:

-         What particularly interests me about this topic, and what would I like to understand better?

-         What areas of research do I most enjoy, and how might I pursue them in relation to this topic?

-         What perspectives have historians brought to the topic and do I agree with their interpretations?

-         In what way does this topic help me to understand some of the wider themes or issues emerging through this course?

The essay is to be written in prose (not point form) and should conform to the footnoting and bibliography conventions used in History (see the School’s guide on these points). This is a research essay: the expectation is that you will range beyond materials provided for tutorial reading, and find and work with materials - primary and secondary sources – that you have identified for yourself. You will also be expected to develop an argument that directly addresses the issues raised in the question you frame.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 06/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 05/07/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

Take Home exam – end of semester: 35 %

The exam will be in three parts:

Part 1: a document exercise, in which you will be asked to analyse a document, drawing on the skills and knowledge you have developed through the course.

Part 2: you will be asked to write an essay in response to your choice of one question from a range of questions related to the tutorial topics and readings covered in the course.

Part 3: you will be asked to write an essay in response to your choice of one question from a range of questions which will invite you to reflect on the themes and issues that have emerged during the course.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 31/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 22/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Tutorial Participation

Reading for each tutorial is essential, so that you can contribute usefully to the tutorial discussion – and also find such discussion useful to yourself. The focus for each week's tutorial discussion has three main elements: engagement with the primary sources - including those uploaded to the course's Document Archive (see below); critical reflection on the perspectives offered by the secondary sources set for each week; integration of each week's topic with the emerging themes of the course.

To assist you in building these skills, preparation for tutorials will include your identification of one primary source for each of any 5 tutorial topics in the first 9 weeks, other than those provided in the readings, to be discussed in classes. Students should be prepared to discuss that document in tutorials, addressing questions such as: ‘why I selected this document’; ‘how it relates to the tutorial topic’ and ‘what is its historical significance’. Your contributions in relation to your selected document will be a component of the assessment of your tutorial participation for this course.  To satisfy this component, you are required to load these five sources, including an approximately 100 word summary of the origins and significance for each selected source, onto the Wattle website for this course 24 hours before the relevant tutorial. This Document Archive on Wattle, accessible to all students taking this course, will effectively become our own repository of sources during the semester, for each other’s use in research. 

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) as submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

Students in HIST1214 are also requested to submit their Research Essay as hard copy using the Assignment Cover Sheet provided on Wattle to assist with marking. These can be submitted at the tutorial following the due date for the assignment. Digital submission time and date will be used to calculate any lateness penalty.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

The marked Research Essay will be returned in tutorials.  

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Nicholas Brown

Research Interests

Modern History; Australian twentieth century history; biography; environmental history

Dr Nicholas Brown

Wednesday 09:30 11:00
Wednesday 09:30 11:00
Dr Nicholas Brown

Research Interests

Dr Nicholas Brown

Wednesday 09:30 11:00
Wednesday 09:30 11:00

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