• Class Number 2368
  • Term Code 3430
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Maria Nugent
    • Dr Meaghan McEvoy
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 19/02/2024
  • Class End Date 24/05/2024
  • Census Date 05/04/2024
  • Last Date to Enrol 26/02/2024
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 and the Mediterranean, Asia, the Americas, Africa, and the Pacific, the past 2000 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 Roman Empire 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 early Medieval kingdoms, 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 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

The final exam will take place during the exam period.

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 their learning students may like to consult the following items as preliminary background readings:

Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010). Chifley Library 2 hr loan


Krishan Kumar, Visions of Empire: How Five Empires Shaped the World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017), Chifley Library 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 Library 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, focus 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). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

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; the Roman Empire Course IntroductionLecturers: Dr Meaghan McEvoy and Assoc. Prof. Maria NugentRome and the Concept of EmpireGuest Lecturer: Assoc. Prof. Caillan Davenport
2 Rome and Byzantium The Decline of Rome and the Rise of Byzantium Lecturer: Dr Meaghan McEvoy
3 The Early Islamic Caliphates The Early Islamic Caliphates Guest Lecturer: Dr Romney David Smith
4 The Unexpected Rise and Fall of a Medieval Empire The Mongols: Exploring the SourcesGuest Lecturer: Dr Tania Colwell
5 Early Modern Empires The Pen is Mightier than the Sword? Representing the ‘Turk’Guest lecturer: Dr Mark Dawson
6 Extending Empire into the New World Reuniting the Globe: The European Encounter with the ‘New World’Lecturer: Dr Karo Moret Miranda
7 French Empires in the Mediterranean and Caribbean Napoleon and Empire: Geopolitics, Logic and Legacies Guest Lecturer: Dr Alexander Cook and Assoc. Prof. Laurence Brown
8  The Changing Dynamics of Empire From ‘Plantation’ to ‘Factory’: The Commercial Drivers of Empire and the Rise of the ‘Second British Empire’Guest Lecturer: Prof. Nicholas Brown
9 Gender, Indigeneity, and Empire Gender, Race and Colonialism: Sexing the Imperial EncounterGuest Lecturer: Dr Karen Downing and Dr Karen Fox
10 Science, Empire, and the Environment Empires of Settlement: New Challenges, Conflicts, and ConsequencesGuest Lecturer: Assoc. Prof. Ruth Morgan
11 America and Empire Empire by Invitation: The United States and the Problem of EmpireGuest Lecturer: Assoc.Prof. Amanda Laugesen
12 Africa. Legacies and reflections Anti-Imperialism and Decolonisation: Indigenous Politics Then and NowLecturer: Assoc. Prof. Maria NugentDebating DecolonisationGuest Lecturer: Dr Paul Gillen

Tutorial Registration

Students are required to attend 1 x 50 minute tutorial every week 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 Due Date Learning Outcomes
Tutorial participation 10 % * 2,4,5
Primary Source Task 20 % 18/03/2024 1,2,3,4
Research Essay 30 % 22/04/2024 1,2,3,4,5
Final examination 40 % * 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 Integrity 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 Skills website. 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.


The final exam will take place during the exam period. It will be based on assigned course readings, and resources available on Wattle and via ANU Library.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 2,4,5

Tutorial participation

Due Date: Continuous; Value: 10%; Learning Outcomes: 2, 4-5

Tutorial Participation consists of regular in-class engagement with, and discussion of, the assigned sources

Tutorial discussion. Students are expected to read and critically assess the assigned primary (textual & visual-material) sources and secondary readings and come to tutorials prepared to make regular contributions to discussion. Focus questions are provided on Wattle to guide and support analysis and discussion.

All required primary and secondary sources are located on the Wattle site, along with a selection of supplementary readings. Read as widely as you can in the supplementary readings, but make sure you read all the required reading, which is helpfully labelled essential readings. With a common core of readings, everyone shares responsibility for contributing to discussion on a set topic or question. Required readings average around 50 pages/week, which is standard in History courses. 

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 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.

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).

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 18/03/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Primary Source Task

Due: Monday 18 March @ 5 pm/17h (week 5). Late submission is permitted subject to the penalties outlined in Late Submission section below.

Word limit: 1000 words Value: 20% Learning outcomes: 1–4

Task overview

Source analysis skills are essential components of scholarly historical and academic research. This assessment asks students:

-       to identify a primary source which illustrates one or more of the themes discussed in this course concerning historical empires and processes of imperialism and

 -      to develop an argument based on a critical analysis of the source to show how it sheds light on a theme related to empire or imperialism.


Students can write about a textual, visual, or a material object.

Students may select a source which they think will contribute to their research for the essay due in Week 8 – the feedback from the source analysis will then assist in their preparation of the essay.

Assessment criteria – general

Reports will be assessed on:

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

-             the student’s demonstrated familiarity with the source and its circumstances of production; and

-             the historical contextualisation of the source in relation to patronage, production, and purpose.

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 6 scholarly studies to develop their understanding of the chosen source, its historical context and evidentiary value.

Essays should be submitted in Word Doc format to Turnitin. 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.


Keep a copy of the assignment, your drafts, and your research notes for your records. Students are advised to 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.

Word limits and penalties

A 10% allowance above or below the requested word limit for each assignment is permitted. For example, candidates may write between 900 and 1100 words for the Primary Source Task. Essays shorter than 900 words or longer than 1100 words will be liable to a penalty of 10% of the total possible marks.  

History counts everything in the main body of the essay, including direct quotations. Footnotes and bibliography are not included in the word-count. 

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 22/04/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Research Essay

Due: Monday 22 April @ 5 pm/17h (week 8). Late submission is permitted subject to the penalties outlined in Late Submission section below.

Word limit: 2000 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. Students are required to select one of the case studies covered in the course within lectures and tutorials, and critically examine their chosen case study through one of the essay questions provided by the course convenors. Essay questions will be provided by Week 2. An example of the type of essay question set is:

 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? 


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

-       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 to locate primary and secondary sources (scholarly studies) additional to those listed in the course guidelines since effective database searching is a key historical research skill.

Essays should be submitted in Word Doc format to Turnitin. 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.

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.

Word limits and penalties

A 10% allowance above or below the requested word limit for each assignment is permitted. For example, candidates may write between 1800–2200 words for the Research Essay. Essays shorter than 1800 words or longer than 2200 words will be liable to a penalty of 10% of the total possible marks.  

History counts everything in the main body of the essay, including direct quotations. Footnotes and bibliography are not included in the word-count. 

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Final examination

Due: During Exam Period. Late submission is not permitted.

Word length: approx. 2000-3000 words Value: 40% Learning Outcomes: 1-5

Exams are the opportunity for students to put together what you have learnt across the semester. They enable students to show off their analytical and interpretative skills, and their ability to synthesise course material from across the semester, in an independent way. The final exam will be based on lectures, tutorials and other materials available on Wattle and the ANU Library.

Details about the exam will be provided to students in the second half of semester.

It is not ANU practice to provide written feedback on exams.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

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 (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 not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.
  • 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.

Referencing Requirements

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

Returning Assignments

Assignments will be marked and returned with feedback to students in a timely manner.

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).

Maria Nugent

Research Interests

Maria Nugent

By Appointment
Dr Meaghan McEvoy

Research Interests

Dr Meaghan McEvoy

By Appointment

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