• Offered by School of History
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject History
  • Areas of interest Classics and Ancient History, Cultural Studies, History, International Affairs, European Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Meaghan McEvoy
    • Maria Nugent
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2024
    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 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.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Tutorial Participation (ongoing) (10) [LO 2,4,5]
  2. Primary Source Task (1000 words) (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  3. Research Essay (2000 words) (30) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  4. Final Examination (2 hours)
    (40) [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 course.

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
2024 $4080
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $5280
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

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
2368 19 Feb 2024 26 Feb 2024 05 Apr 2024 24 May 2024 In Person View

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