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British Empire 1899-1963


Value: half unit


 Dr Zoe Laidlaw


Taught through weekly lectures and weekly follow-up seminars


Best Essay of 2 (30%) and 2-hour Exam (70%) 

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the British Empire reached its greatest extent, and yet, by the 1960s, it had all but disappeared. This course covers the history of Britain's expansion and contraction in the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, from the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War to the achievement of African independence during the premiership of Harold Macmillan. Case studies focus on the Empire's presence in metropolitan life, the emerging Dominion powers; the contribution of the empire to the First World War; the rise of Indian nationalism; the Empire in the Middle East and South-East Asia; and the role of the Cold War in decolonisation. Recurrent themes include economics and empire; the meaning of 'race'; the nature of colonial rule; global power and international relations; local responses to British colonialism; and the rise of colonial nationalism. By the end of the course students should have a good understanding of the decline of the of British empire and will be well-equipped to proceed to related Group 2 and Group 3 courses


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