• Class Number 2570
  • Term Code 3230
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Angela Woollacott
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 21/02/2022
  • Class End Date 27/05/2022
  • Census Date 31/03/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 28/02/2022
    • Dr Karo Moret Miranda
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.

Research-Led Teaching

This course is designed around the research expertise of staff across the School of History. Guest lectures throughout semester will introduce students to different styles of, and approaches to, 'doing' history which will help you to decide what kinds of history you're interested in, and whose courses you may like to take in later-year study.

Examination Material or equipment

There will be an online quiz on Wattle in the second half of the semester; the last assessment requirement will not be an exam, rather a research essay.

Required Resources

Students are required to access weekly tutorial resources provided via the course Wattle Site. Further resources are available via databases and catalogues through the ANU Library. Students are also eligible to register for reading cards at the National Library, which provides access to electronic resources on- and off-site, as well as hard-copy collections such as maps and manuscripts.

Although there are no prescribed texts for the course, to support your learning students may like to consult the following items as recommended readings:

Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010). Chifley 2 hr loan and an e-copy has been placed in Week 1 Supplementary readings.


Krishan Kumar, Visions of Empire: How Five Empires Shaped the World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017), Chifley 2 hr loan and ANU Library ebk

Students may also be interested in consulting volumes from A Cultural History of Western Empires (Bloomsbury, 2019). There are 6 volumes spanning Antiquity through to the modern world, and each volume includes thematic essays on such topics as: War, Trade, Environment, Labour, Mobility, Sexuality, Resistance, and Race. These volumes are in Chifley on 2-day loan.

Staff Feedback

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

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, tutorial group etc

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


If you genuinely believe you have received an inappropriate or incorrect result, you are entitled to apply for a review of your grade. This must be done within 20 working days of the formal notification of your result for that particular piece of coursework. Your first point of contact should always be the course convenor. See ANU’s Assessment Rules 2.12 for further information.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction: Empires and Global History Studying History and Empires
2 The Unexpected Rise and Fall of a Medieval Empire The Mongols: Exploring the Sources
3 Early Modern Empires The Pen is Mightier than the Sword? Representing the ‘Turk’
4 Extending Empire into the New World Reuniting the Globe: The European Encounter with the ‘New World’
5 Slavery, Merchants and Empires in the Caribbean and Asia The Commercial Drivers of Empire and the Rise of the British Empire
6 The French Empire in Egypt and the Caribbean Napoleon and Empire: Geopolitics, Logic and Legacies
7 Rapid imperialist expansion in 19th C Africa New Imperialism: A New Age of Empires in the Nineteenth Century?
8 Science, Empire, and the Environment Empires of Settlement: New Challenges, Conflicts, and Consequences
9 America and Empire Empire by Invitation?: The United States and the Problem of Empire
10 Gender, Indigeneity, and Empire Gender, Race and Colonialism: Sexing the Imperial Encounter
11 Twentieth Century and the Ends of Empire? Pushing back against Empires: Anti-Colonial Nationalism and Decolonisation
12 Legacies and reflections Review and exam preparation

Tutorial Registration

Students are required to attend 1 x 50 minute tutorial between weeks 1-12. See HIST1214 Wattle site for details about registering for a class. Registration will be open from the week prior to the commencement of teaching.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Learning Outcomes
Tutorial participation 10 % 2, 4-5
Primary source location, posting and analysis 10 % 2-5
Primary Source Research Essay 25 % 1-5
Wattle Quiz 25 % 1-5
Research Essay 30 % 1-5

* 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 Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

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.


Students must attempt all written assessment tasks to be eligible to pass the course. Failure to do so will result in a grade of NCN (Non-completion) even if marks for other completed components result in a Passing total (50+).

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 2, 4-5

Tutorial participation

Tutorial Participation consists of a) regular in-class engagement with, and discussion of, the assigned sources in an on-campus or online class; and b) the oral presentation of a primary source in one tutorial (which will also be posted to the Wattle site’s Primary Source Archive—see Assessment Task 2).

a)    Tutorial discussion. Students are expected to read and critically assess the assigned primary (textual & visual-material) sources and secondary readings in order to be prepared to make regular contributions to weekly discussions. Focus questions are provided on Wattle and in the HIST1214 Course Outline to guide and support students’ analysis and discussion.

All prescribed primary and secondary sources are located on Wattle, as will be a selection of supplementary readings to support written assessments. Readings labelled ‘Essential readings’ are, you guessed it, essential. This means that everyone shares responsibility for contributing to discussion, which is the best way to benefit from the discussion yourself. Readings average around 50 pages/week, which is standard in History courses. 

Reading – expectations of your time: Reading can be slow, especially primary sources. Set aside about 3 hours in your schedule to do the tutorial readings. You should probably be able to do 20–25 pages in an hour. You will want to read primary sources more slowly and in more detail, and reflect on these in response to the assigned questions before coming along to the tutorials.

Participation will be assessed on the basis of frequency and quality/relevance of contributions to discussion, demonstrated familiarity and engagement with the readings, and willingness to participate individually or in groups as requested.

Attendance requirements: Students are expected to attend a minimum of 10 tutorials in person or online as appropriate across the twelve-week semester AND to contribute actively to in-class discussions with questions or ideas to receive a strong participation grade. Unexplained absences from more than 2 tutorials may adversely affect a student’s final mark. See below for how to gain credit for missed classes. 

b)    Primary Source Archive posts and responses: there are 2 parts to this activity.

 i) Ten of the weekly topic blocks on Wattle (wks 2-11) will have an associated Source Archive. Students are expected to identify a primary source (document, image, or object) and to post an image of, or link to, that source along with a 100-word explanation of how that source relates to the themes of empire and imperialism for the week. Students are expected to do this once in each half of semester but they may select material for any week. The sources chosen for the archive must be different to the source selected for Assessment Task 2 below.

ii) As academic conversations are increasingly carried out online, students will also be asked to post 2 x 100-word reflective responses to a primary source posting made by another class-member. Responses may include a comment on the source’s relationship to the week’s material, provide additional information about the source, or draw links between the source in question and another source identified elsewhere in the course or archives.

The aim of these exercises is to familiarise students with how to locate primary sources independently, and to analyse how the material sheds light on themes discussed throughout the unit. It will also help students to develop an appropriate voice when participating in collective, public discussions. These archives can be used in your own assessments.

Students are expected to complete their first source post and a response post by the end of week 6, and their second by the end of week 12. 

Absences from tutorials: Students are expected to attend at least 10 of the 12 weekly tutorials. If you are unwell and can provide a medical certificate documenting the period when you are unable to work, the missed tutorial will not count as an unexplained absence. (Medical certificates don’t have to specify particular health conditions, simply note the period when the student was unable to work).

Students unable to attend tutorials in a given week should first advise their tutor of their likely absence in advance. If students wish to gain credit for participation in a week when they have missed classes, they will be expected to submit a 200-word critical reflection on one or more of the week's readings in relation to the focus questions to be emailed to the tutor. The reflection may:

o  assess the assigned materials/questions as a group OR

o  concentrate on one of the questions and/or readings/sources in depth OR

o  consider how the readings responded to or contradicted your expectations of the topic.

As per tutorial contributions, this written make-up piece will be assessed on the quality/relevance of individual reflections and students’ demonstrated familiarity and engagement with the readings. It should be emailed to your tutor by the Friday immediately after the relevant tutorial.

For advice on how to approach the reading and analysis of primary and secondary materials for tutorials, see details in HIST1214 Course Outline on the HIST1214 Wattle site.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 2-5

Primary source location, posting and analysis

Due: by the time of tutorial in the week of your choice. Late submission is permitted subject to the penalties outlined in Late Submission section below.

Word limit: 250 words Value: 10% Learning outcomes: 2-5

Approximate return date: within a few weeks

Task overview

This task corresponds to Assessment Task 1 Part B – the oral presentation of one primary source in one tutorial, for which tutorial you will sign up at the beginning of semester. You must locate a primary source relevant to the topic of the week’s discussion. This will require research on your part.


Students are asked to identify a primary source (document, image, or object) and to post an image of, or link to, that source along with a 250-word essay analysing the source and explaining how that source relates to the themes of empire and imperialism and the topic for that week. The source chosen for the archive must be different to the sources selected for Assessment Task 3 below. The aim of this exercise is to familiarise students with how to locate primary sources independently, and to analyse how the item sheds light on themes discussed throughout the unit. The posting and essay will be marked according to its relevance to the week’s topic, and the quality of the analysis and explanation.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 25 %
Learning Outcomes: 1-5

Primary Source Research Essay

Due: 25 March at 4 pm -- the end of Week 5. Late submission is permitted subject to the penalties outlined in the Course Guide.

Word limit: 1,500 words Value: 25% Learning outcomes: 1–5

Approximate return date: end of mid-semester break

Task overview

Explore the Legacies of British Slavery online database: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/

Choose an individual listed in the LBS database as your research subject. Find at least 3 primary sources that somehow relate to that individual or their life story, especially how they benefitted from slavery in the British Empire. See the Research Guide – Primary and Secondary Sources at the end of this Course Outline.

These may assist you to learn more about the life and/or family members of your chosen subject:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography https://www.oxforddnb.com/

Australian Dictionary of Biography https://adb.anu.edu.au/

American National Biography https://www.anb.org/

Then use your primary sources to write an essay explaining how your chosen person benefitted from slavery in the British Empire, and how their life story reflects broader themes of Empires in Global History.

Source analysis skills are essential components of scholarly historical and academic research. Importantly, source analysis skills are transferable to the real world. They are also essential for reading the newspaper or any other form of media.

Assessment criteria – general

Essays will be assessed on:

-                the quality of the arguments about the relationship between the person and course themes and the value/limitations of the sources for understanding aspects of empire/imperialism;

They will also be assessed on the logical structure of the discussion; clarity of written expression; signposting and internal consistency of the discussion; use of evidence to support claims made; and referencing.


Research expectations & referencing

Students should expect to consult a minimum of 4 scholarly studies to develop their understanding of their person in historical context and the evidentiary value of their primary sources.


Essays should be submitted in Word Doc format. Scholarly referencing standards, specifically footnotes and bibliography that follow the Chicago Manual of Style format, are required by the School of History to support arguments and cite quotations. See the School of History Essay Writing Guide. We will discuss referencing in week 4’s tutorials.


Keep a copy of the assignment, your drafts, and your research notes for your records. Save each new draft under a new file name - this can help you to follow how your ideas change over time. Your tutor may ask to see your research notes or drafts in order to provide constructive advice and feedback.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 25 %
Learning Outcomes: 1-5

Wattle Quiz

Due: Friday 29 April. Late submission is not permitted.

Word length: up to 1,000 words Value: 25% Learning Outcomes: 1-5

The Wattle quiz provides the opportunity for students to show what you have learnt up to Week 8. It will do so in a relatively quick and compact format involving a mix of short and slightly longer but concise responses. It will enable students to demonstrate their identification, analytical and interpretative skills, and their ability to synthesise course material, in an independent way.

The Quiz will be based on lectures, tutorials and required reading materials available on Wattle.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 30 %
Learning Outcomes: 1-5

Research Essay

Due: Wednesday 8 June @ 4 pm

Word limit: 2,000 words

Value: 30%

Learning outcomes: 1–5


Task overview

This course examines the historical processes of imperialism, and the rise and fall of empires through the lens of diverse case-studies. Select one of the case-studies considered across the unit and use it to develop an argument in response to one of the following research essay questions.


1.   Select one of the following themes below: how did that theme play a role in the expansion of your chosen empire?

-         Biology, ecology, and the environment (you may focus on one or more of these)

-         Commerce and economics

-         Gender

-         Population mobility

-         Race

-         Religion and Reformation (you may focus on one or both of these)

-         Scientific discovery and the Enlightenment (you may focus on one or both of these)

-         Technological innovation


2.   Imperial power was created and sustained through a range of different strategies. Identify at least two examples of strategies used to create and sustain power in your case-study: how they were used and what were their consequences?


3.   How did expanding empires attempt to negotiate with local and indigenous populations, and how did local cultures respond to European imperial expansion?


4.   Imperial power is rarely sustained indefinitely. What were the most important factors contributing to the disintegration of your empire of choice, and why do you think those factors exerted particular pressure on that empire?


5.   Historical empires have left lasting legacies across the globe. Identify two or three important long-term consequences which emerged from your imperial case-study: how were these legacies produced and why were they significant?


Assessment criteria – general

Essays will be assessed on:

-         the quality of the argument

-         the extent to which arguments are supported with critical analysis of primary and scholarly sources

-         the quality of the sources used and demonstrated familiarity with relevant evidence and scholarship (Wikipedia will not gain you any points)

-         the logic of the argument and the structure in which its presented

-         presentation (inclusion of properly formatted footnotes and bibliography)


Research expectations & referencing

Students should expect to consult relevant primary sources (textual, visual or material as appropriate to their topic) and a minimum of 10 scholarly studies (monographs, book chapters and journal articles) for their essay.


Students are encouraged to consult ANU databases (below) to locate primary and secondary sources (scholarly studies) additional to those listed in the course outline since effective database searching is a key historical research skill.


Essays should be submitted in Word Doc format. Scholarly referencing standards, specifically footnotes and bibliography that follow the Chicago Manual of Style format, are required by the School of History to support arguments and cite quotations. See the ANU History Essay Writing and Referencing Guide on Wattle.


Keep a copy of the assignment, your drafts, and your research notes for your records. Save each new draft under a new file name - this can help you to follow how your ideas change over time. Your tutor may ask to see your research notes or drafts in order to provide constructive advice and feedback.


For advice about database resources, essay formatting and brief discussions of expectations concerning the essay’s introduction, scholarly review, paragraphing, use of quotations, referencing, and conclusion, see the HIST1214 Research Essay questions, guidelines file in the Assessments folder on Wattle.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to 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 be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, 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 Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

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) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission permitted. 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, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations or online quizzes.

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

See individual task details for expected dates of return.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted 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.

Resubmission of Assignments

Resubmission of assessments is not permitted.

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).

Prof Angela Woollacott
6125 2715

Research Interests

Imperialism and colonialism; decolonisation; settler colonialism; gender, race and biography

Prof Angela Woollacott

By Appointment
Dr Karo Moret Miranda

Research Interests

Dr Karo Moret Miranda

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions