• Offered by School of History
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject History
  • Areas of interest Cultural Studies, History, International Affairs, European Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Angela Woollacott
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2022
    See Future Offerings

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.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Tutorial participation and presentation (10) [LO 2,3,4]
  2. Primary source location, posting and 250 word analysis (10) [LO 2,3,4,5]
  3. Primary source research exercise 1,500 word essay (25) [LO 2,3,4,5]
  4. Wattle quiz 1,000 words (25) [LO 1,2,4,5]
  5. Research Essay 2,000 words (30) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

The ANU uses 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. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorial and tutorial-like activities; and
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts

There are no prescribed texts for this course. However, students are strongly encouraged to consult the recommended texts listed under Indicative Readings elsewhere on this page.

Preliminary Reading

Students are encouraged to consult either of the following texts as preparation for enrolment in this unit.

Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010)


Krishan Kumar, Visions of Empire: How Five Imperial Regimes Shaped the World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017).

Weekly tutorial readings will be made available online at the beginning of semester.

Assumed Knowledge





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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2022 $3840
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2022 $4980
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.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
2570 21 Feb 2022 28 Feb 2022 31 Mar 2022 27 May 2022 In Person View

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