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History Modules

History module directory

Every year we offer an exceptionally broad range of topics for students to study.

Degrees at Royal Holloway are based on the course unit system, allowing an effective approach to study within a developmental structure. We aim to give you maximum flexibility to identify and pursue your own historical interests while helping you to construct a coherent degree programme which provides a sense of the development of nations, institutions and cultures over time. 

Single Honours History

In the First Year courses are designed to introduce you to degree level study. They offer you the opportunity to experiment with new periods of topics that you may not have explored before. The Foundation module will initiate you into unfamiliar but all-important skills and methods; and Gateway options introduce broad historical themes and new periods and cultures. 

In your second year, you will choose a series of Survey modules, undertake a (compulsory) Independent Research Essay and study a Further Subject. 

In the final year you take another Further Subject, as well as a research-led Special Subject, whose course leader will supervise your 10,000-word dissertation on an original historical topic. In addition you will study two core modules: Historians on History: Why Historiography Matters and Concepts in History

Joint degrees

If you are taking studying a combined honours you will have to make some decisions about how you structure your course. 

During your first year you will take the Foundation Module: History in the Making and in addition select one Gateway module. 

In your second year you will have to make a decision about the type of modules you would like to study. You will either study three Survey Modules or one Survey Module and a Further Subject. Whichever option you choose you will also complete an Independent Research Essay which will help you think about whether you would like to pursue a History Dissertation. 

In the final year you take a Special Subject, alongside either a 10,000-word dissertation or a Further Subject. (If you do not choose to take your dissertation in History, you will usually do it in the other subject of your joint degree.)

This module directory demonstrate the full range of modules we run, however, available modules will change on a year to year basis dependant on staff research leave. 

Core Modules

History in the Making is Royal Holloway's first year foundation History module. This module covers the broad sweep of human history, but it is not intended to provide a straightforward narrative from the ancient to the modern world. Instead, this module seeks to introduce our first-year students to an array of different topics and themes - from the rise of Christianity to the rise of modern nation states - that they will encounter again in the Gateway, Survey, Further and Special Subjects that they will take during their degree. How have historians discussed themes like Revolution or Gender? What kinds of sources have they used to do so? These, and many other thought-provoking questions, will be interrogated over the two terms of HS1004 and interrogated from a global, rather than a simply "Western," perspective. In moving forwards chronologically, this module will also contemplate how our very understanding of what history is and what history is for has evolved. Finally, History in the Making will encourage students to think about the practice and use of history beyond the academy, about how the wider public has engaged with, manipulated and consumed the past. This public history dimension will be present in a number of lectures across both terms and all students will have the opportunity to explore these issues themselves in the group poster project and presentation. Although titled “History in the Making”, this module might easily have been called “Historians in the Making”, providing our students with the skills, methods and critical approach to the past that will prove essential to successfully completing a university History degree.

The subject of the essay must be outside the direct remit of the various Survey Module and Further Subject taught modules that the student is taking. The essay is intended to facilitate and develop the student's powers of independent thought and research, exercised in a field selected by the student for its particular attractions to him/her and where regular supervisory guidance is available.

This module explores the various developments that have emerged within the discipline of History, in particular over the last 50 years, and which today collectively invigorate its study.  It investigates how far and in what ways the practice and making of 'History' has moved from seeking 'explanation' to providing 'meaning', and from identifying 'causes' to deepening 'understanding'. In this way it will seek to provide students with a clear grasp of how History as a discipline is practised in the early twenty-first century.  The lectures will cover a wide range of topics that, taken together, reflect the diversity and innovation at the heart of the study of History today. Topics may include, cultural history, history of emotions, race and identity, the spatial turn, history and religion, oral history, history of gender and sexuality, and Marxist historiography. Alongside this comprehensive lecture survey, students will participate in workshops dedicated to in-depth study of a particular historiographical debate or influential historian, allowing students to specialise in their final year. Workshop topics may include ‘’History from below’, Civil Rights historiography, Holocaust studies, microhistory, commemoration and the First World War, the New Cold War History, and women’s history.

Concepts in History explores ‘big ideas’. Choosing from a range of options, students will focus on one particular theme, developing expertise in this area as they hone their skills of historical analysis and conceptual interpretation. Balancing depth and range, students will explore their chosen ‘concept’ in diverse historical settings, taking in chronologies from the ancient to the modern, as well as exploring different ‘spaces’ from across the globe. Taught through seminars, the course emphasises collaborative learning, including through group work.

Gateway Modules

This sweeping module introduces students to the dramatic story of the ancient world, from the classical Greeks and Romans to the rise of Christianity and Islam. That story begins with Homer’s epic poems, the Iliad and Odyssey, and the emergence of the Greek city states led by the military might of Sparta and the democratic genius of Athens. The Greeks drove back the Persian empire to the east, but as the city states declined they fell under the dominion of Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great. We follow Alexander’s conquests to the borders of India and back, yet his empire died with him while further west Rome was rising. The Roman Republic, with its unique constitution and marching legions, dominated the Mediterranean world only to destroy itself through ambition and civil war, until power fell into the hands of one man: Augustus, the first Roman emperor. Over the next 400 years the Roman empire spanned from Hadrian’s Wall in Britain south to the Sahara and east to the Euphrates. Within that empire a new faith emerged, venerating Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and gathered strength until the emperor Constantine converted and Christianity became the favoured imperial religion. By this time, however, the empire was facing ever greater challenges. Goths and Franks swept across western Europe, their conquests immortalised by Edward Gibbon as the “Decline and Fall of Rome”. In the east Roman power survived as the Byzantine empire centred on Constantinople. While in Arabia, the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed inspired the forces of Islam, which swept forth to redraw the map of the ancient world. Throughout this wide-ranging module, we will explore the values these societies expressed in their own words (read in translation), debate the latest scholarship, and assess the ancient legacies that shaped our modern age.

This module investigates the origins of our ideas about human rights and duties, revolution and democracy, consent and liberty. Key original texts are studied, ranging from Plato and Aristotle in the ancient world to Machiavelli, More, Hobbes, Locke and the Enlightenment in the transition from the early modern to the modern world. The module takes a wide view of the boundaries of ‘European Political Thought’, also introducing a number of political thinkers from the Islamic world like al-Mawardi, Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Taymiyya. Like their Christian counterparts elsewhere, their work marked a close engagement with Greek philosophy, and explored the question of what the presence of an almighty creator God meant for the conduct of human politics. This module always keeps an eye on what the close and careful reading of classical texts has to offer for our understanding of politics in the present. Working with primary sources, rather than the learning of factual details, stands at the centre of both how the module is taught and how it is assessed.

The early modern period is an age of change. It has been seen by many as the beginning of modernity, for it witnesses the consolidation of both national monarchies and the central state, the split of Christianity with the emergence of the Reformation, the spread of Islam to the Balkans, European expansion into the ‘new world,’ the introduction of print, and significant changes in patterns of consumption. This module will assess the impact that these processes had on the lives of ordinary early modern Europeans and on their ways of making sense of the changes in the world around them. For example, we will examine how the process of state-building brought about a new culture of discipline and self-restraint in everyday life; how people’s attitudes to the sacred and standards of morality changed with the spread of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. We will ask whether the introduction of print revolutionized ordinary people’s access to information and knowledge, and whether the encounter with Native Americans stimulated the development of a separate European identity, perceived as superior. This module will also address continuities and changes in the domestic and private spheres of individuals’ lives -- gender relations, patterns of family life, ideas about childhood and intimacy, attitudes to health and hygiene, birth and death. Throughout the emphasis will be on the experience of ordinary people.

From the Enlightenment to the collapse of Communism, Europeans have struggled to make sense of and shape a continent in the grip of profound changes. Revolution, industrialisation and urbanisation transformed the face of politics and societies and spawned a series of new ideologies that continue to shape our world today. This module surveys a range of major events and dynamics from the late eighteenth to the early twenty-first century, including the French Revolution, the emergence of the nation state, the decline of monarchy, the rise of mass politics, the emergence of the working classes and the middle classes, the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the rise of fascism, the Second World War and the Cold War. In studying specific events and developments students will also be introduced to more general concepts like revolution, constitutionalism, liberalism, nationalism, industrialisation, urbanisation, socialism, communism, fascism, parliamentary democracy and the welfare state. Exposure to different historical methods and conflicting interpretations will help students to hone their own analytical skills. The emphasis throughout the module will be on recovering the experiences of Europeans across more than two turbulent centuries when the very shape of the modern world was fiercely contested. 

The module introduces students to the history of the non-Western world over the past one hundred years or so, a period that resulted in – as some historians have suggested - the decline of the West and the rise of the Rest in political terms. In regions such as Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, the twentieth-century was hugely significant witnessing the downfall of empires and long-held ideologies, on the one hand, and, on the other, the advent of revolutionary struggles and movements that created new nation-states.  Its legacies continue to affect and shape the world on a regional and global level.  The lens through which this exploration takes place is provided by the lives and careers of some of the most influential non-Western political leaders, including advocate of non-violent resistance MK Gandhi, architect of Communist China Mao Zedong, South African anti-apartheid politician Nelson Mandela, Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, and Al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden. Whether nationalists, monarchs, communists, dictators, or inspired by religious belief, their individual stories provide students with the starting point for exploring – both thematically and comparatively – key developments that have shaped their respective countries and the world in which we live today.

The terms 'Middle Ages' and 'Medieval' are often used to evoke a dark and bigoted world, wracked by war, pestilence and superstition and oppressed by tyrannical kings and scheming priests. The image is not entirely false as all those things certainly did happen in the Middle Ages. But then again they also occurred in most other periods of human history, including the twentieth century. Those aspects aside, the period from c.400 to c.1500 saw Western Europe transform itself from the poorer part of the retreating Roman empire to a wealthy, sophisticated and dynamic society that was starting to explore the world far beyond its borders. This module explores some of the changes and developments that took place along the way and answers some of the questions that you may always have wanted to ask: What happened after the Roman empire fell? What was 'feudalism'? How were castles and Gothic cathedrals built? Why did the Pope become so powerful? What were the Crusades? Why did the Hundred Years’ War go on for so long? How did Europe survive after losing as much as half its population in the Black Death? And does this remote era have any relevance whatsoever to the modern world?

Survey Modules

This module aims to introduce students to digital technologies that have been applied to historical studies. Through lectures, practical workshops and seminars we will develop a grounding to the range of different approaches that have been used for both research and public engagement to study the past. Over ten weeks we will consider a different approach, some high profile projects that have applied them, practical and ethical considerations from using them, and in some cases have a go ourselves. After introducing Digital Histories and the Digital Humanities more broadly we will move on to focusing on specific themes including: digital archives and databases, GIS and WebMapping, 3d recording and the digital museum, making 3d models and 3d printing, 3d modelling and “reconstructions” and multisensory digital pasts. As we learn different skill sets students will design a project which uses a digital approach to either answer a specific research question or to be used for public engagement which alongside the write up will form the final assessment for the module.  Students will come away understanding that digital approaches are not independent to historical research but are powerful tools that have the potential to unlock new avenues into research and allow different approaches to a range of research questions. While they will develop their skills they will also learn correct application and understand the importance of not applying digital approaches for the sack of a digital approach but instead know when a technique or methodology might support a research question.

Refugees are arguably the most important social, political and legal category of the twentieth century and are set to remain so. Few historical processes have had a greater impact on the political and social contours of our contemporary world than the protracted and intermittent un-mixing of peoples during the past century. This survey module introduces students to the history of refugees in the twentieth century by unpicking the diverse causes, consequences and meanings of forced migration. The module takes a global approach and examines in chronological succession three important cases of population displacement which were also pivotal moments in the reconfiguration of the refugee question. These include: a) the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, population movements in Eastern Europe during World War One and the Greco-Turkish exchange of populations in 1922-1923; b) the un-mixing of peoples during the partition of India; and, c) persecution and forced migration in 1980s & 1990s Latin America. The module also discusses the future challenges, such as climate-induced displacement. The module approaches the history of refugees from a comparative perspective and situates it in the context of inter-communal violence, border-making, imperial collapse, nation-state formation and political conflict. It also connects displacement to the parallel processes of resettlement, integration and refugee memory. The module draws insights from political science, international relations and social anthropology and ultimately aims to acquaint students with the ways ‘refugees’ shaped local societies and global politics throughout the twentieth century and across the world. Students taking the module will be encouraged to have contact with local and national organisations in Britain working with refugees.

According to recent World Economic Forum polls conducted among 18-35 year olds in nearly 200 countries, the planet’s most urgent crises include religious conflict, government accountability, poverty, food and water (in)security, inequality, and climate change.  These problems, in turn, raise pressing collective conundrums, such as: How can population growth and resources be brought into better balance?  How can changing the status of women help improve the broader human condition?  How can genuine democracy emerge from authoritarian regimes?  How can the threat of new and re-emerging diseases be reduced? How can shared values and security strategies reduce ethnic conflict, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction?  And how can governments work together to address the threats associated with global warning?  But every global challenge has its own particular ‘history’, closely linked to developments taking place in different parts of the world over the last century or so (if not longer).  This module, therefore, adopts a thematic approach towards making sense of the recent historical context in which these challenges have emerged.  For their assessed coursework, students produce a policy report, in which they draw on their skills and knowledge as historians to explore issues that today are regarded as threatening the whole planet’s future wellbeing.

We seem, as it were, to have conquered and peopled half the world in a fit of absence of mind (Sir John Seeley, The Expansion of England, 1883). Despite Seeley’s assertion of accidental conquest, at its zenith the British empire decidedly controlled over 1/4 of the world’s global real estate, and 1/5 of the world’s population. The economic, cultural and global impact of British colonialism is still very much apparent today - from contested borders and inter-state disputes, through languages and cultures, to the inequities in wealth and trade that exist between the prosperous ‘North’ and the underdeveloped ‘South’. Why, then, was imperial expansion so vehemently defended by its protagonists in the 19th Century? And what made colonial conquest, colonisation, and economic exploitation of non-European spaces feasible on such a global scale and for so long? These are the ‘big questions’ that underlie this module. Using documentary sources and specialist texts and articles, we shall investigate various aspects of British colonial rule from the perspective of its practitioners and from that of their colonial ‘subjects’. The intention is to try and understand European imperialism on its own terms, to interrogate the cultural and conceptual discourses that underpinned its existence, and to reflect upon the many ways in which the history of European empire has shaped the modern world in which we live today.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the British Empire reached its zenith and yet, by the 1960s, it had all but disappeared. This module 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.

The Roman Republic occupies a special place in the history of Western civilisation. From humble beginnings beside the river Tiber, the Romans expanded to dominate the classical world. Their armies defeated Carthage and the successors of Alexander the Great, and brought all the surrounding peoples under Roman rule. Yet the triumph of the Republic was also its tragedy. Political and socio-economic crisis plunged Rome into a descending spiral of civil war as rival warlords struggled for supremacy, until the Republican constitution collapsed and was replaced by the autocratic Roman empire. In this module, we explore the history of the Republic from the foundation of Rome to the murder of Julius Caesar on the Ides of March 44 BC. Students will examine the social and political pressures that drove Rome to conquer her Mediterranean empire and the consequences of that expansion for the Romans and for the peoples they conquered. The major literary sources will be discussed in translation, together with the evidence of archaeology and material culture which helps us to bring the ancient Romans to life.

For almost half a millennium, the Roman empire ruled over the ancient Mediterranean world. This module surveys the golden years of imperial Rome, from the achievement of sole rule by the first emperor Augustus (31 BC - AD 14) to the murder of Commodus (the white-clad emperor from Gladiator) in AD 192. At its peak, Rome’s empire spanned from Hadrian’s Wall in Britain south to North Africa and east to Syria, enclosing the Mediterranean sea within a single dominion. We will analyse the political, social and cultural developments under the emperors of the first and second centuries AD, and reassess their achievements and legacies: Claudius’ invasion of Britain, Nero’s cultured tyranny, the terrible efficiency of Domitian, Trajan the conqueror, and the philosophical Marcus Aurelius. We will likewise explore fundamental themes that shaped the wider empire, including imperial frontier policy and administration, the process of Romanisation, and the nature of Roman religion. The evidence of art and architecture will be examined, particularly the monuments from Rome herself and the wealth of material preserved in the buried town of Pompeii, alongside the major literary sources all readily available in English translation.

Between 1914 and 1947, Europe was in the grip of continent in what the French leader Charles de Gaulle termed a “Second Thirty Years War.” The First World War swept away much of the old order, triggering the collapse of the great continental empires and giving birth to a series of parliamentary regimes unstable new nation states. The October Revolution launched a radical new project that redefined the political landscape of the continent and fuelled the emergence of the radical Right. Beset by economic crises and political radicalisation liberalism and parliamentary democracy were soon in full retreat as a series of brutal regimes took power. These new states used repression but also welfare in order to construct new hierarchies of insiders and outsiders as European populations were drawn into new methods of surveillance and persecution. The module will examine Italian fascism; Nazism; Stalinism; the civil war and the origins of the Franco regime in Spain; and the Holocaust in a wider continental framework context that highlights the shared experience of Europeans from Moscow to Madrid and from Brussels to Berlin. In the first half of the twentieth Europe was the dark continent.

Europe has changed more since 1945 than at any other time in history. From a rubble-strewn, war-torn continent to one of the richest, most privileged parts of the world, the transformation has been remarkable. Yet this process was neither inevitable nor without risks and tensions. This module explores the major political developments of the second half of the twentieth century, including: the consequences of the end of World War II; the occupation of Germany, denazification, and the Nuremberg Trials; the post-war tensions between the superpowers which led to the onset and course of the Cold War in Europe; the communist takeover of Eastern Europe; the ‘thirty glorious years’ of economic growth, social democracy and integration in the EEC in Western Europe; decolonisation and its consequences for the European powers; the collapse of the dictatorships in Spain, Portugal and Greece; the oil crises, the end of the ‘postwar boom’, and the rise of neoliberalism; the fall of communism and the demise of the Soviet Union; and the major post-Cold War events such as German unification and the wars in Yugoslavia.

The Tudors represent a compelling family drama of powerful men and women, passion and betrayal, jealous rivalries and resentments played out over three generations. Yet beyond being good ‘box office’, the Tudors matter. This was a hugely formative period, of dramatic change, innovation and exploration. During the 16th century, institutions were created, laws passed, and precedents set that remain at the heart of the English polity today. The Tudor period saw the beginnings of the modern state, the development of national bureaucracy and administration, the establishment of the Church of England, and the genesis of a belief in national sovereignty. Drawing on the most recent historiography, this module will reconsider familiar assessments of these most infamous of monarchs. In recent years, Henry VII has emerged less as a dour man than a tenacious and farsighted survivor who laid the foundations for the achievements of his son and grandchildren. Edward VI is now considered less a weak and sickly boy manipulated by powerful men, but a young man on the threshold of power. Mary should be considered a political pioneer, the first woman to wear the crown of England and who showed that women could rule with all the power of kings and Elizabeth, less an unimpeachable ‘Good Queen Bess’, than a reckless monarch whose refusal to marry and name a successor ultimately led to the demise of the Tudor dynasty and the accession of a Scottish king to the English throne. Through lectures and lively seminar discussions, we will consider the lives and legacy of the Tudor monarchs.

The accession of James VI of Scotland to the English throne in 1603 saw the union of the crowns and the establishment of the Stuart dynasty in England. During the century that followed, Britain’s political and constitutional foundations were forged.  The Anglo-Scottish union, the emergence of political parties, the 1701 Act of Settlement, still in force today which excluded Catholics from claiming the crown, were all products of this period. It was an age of intense religious debate and radical politics. Both contributed to a bloody civil war between Crown and Parliament (the Cavaliers and the Roundheads), resulting in a parliamentary victory for Oliver Cromwell, the dramatic execution of King Charles I and eleven years of republican rule. The Restoration of the Crown in 1660 was followed by another 'Glorious' Revolution as William and Mary of Orange ascended the throne as joint monarchs and defenders of Protestantism to be followed by the last of the Stuarts Queen Anne. Her death and the demise of the Stuart dynasty in 1714, left the monarchy changed forever and the English parliament established as the ultimate political authority in the country. This module explores this tumultuous period of unprecedented political and religious upheaval, a century that would redefine the country and remains critical for understanding the nation today.

This module explores one of the most vibrant centuries in British history. Frequently seen as an age of liberty, luxury, elegance and excess it examines the period from the accession of the Hanoverian George I to the death of George IV at the end of the ‘Regency’ period. Yet beneath this commercially successful and fashionably polite society lay fears of riot and disorder, debt, poverty and rising crime rates. Two striking results of this were campaigns for greater public decency and the expansion of laws imposing the death sentence for hundreds of criminal offences. The module will ask: to what extent did the Georgian era witness the birth of modernity, consumer society, commercialised leisure and freedom of the press? Were the British a polite and commercial people, or an ungovernable rabble? How ‘bloody’ was the penal code in a period when public sentiment began to turn against hanging? In answering these and other questions, students will also make use of digitised primary sources such as Eighteenth Century Collections Online and The Old Bailey Online.

The period from the French Revolution to the end of the nineteenth century witnessed extraordinary transformations in just about every area of Europeans’ lives. New ideas of democracy, nationalism, socialism and women’s rights animated successive generations of radicals and produced major revolutions such as those that shook the continent in 1848. The rapid rise of industrialisation and new technologies like the railway changed the face of European cities like Paris and Vienna, forced societies to confront problems like poverty and epidemic disease, and even altered basic conceptions of time and space. Artistic movements like romanticism and realism jostled with an emergent mass culture founded on widespread literacy, cheap books and daily newspapers. This module addresses these and other dimensions of the social and cultural history of Europe in order to ask both what drove the major changes of the nineteenth century and, just as importantly, how people responded to and made sense of them.

This module studies the birth of a new European order. It runs from the slow disintegration and eventual collapse of the Roman empire in the West to the beginnings of a new European empire under the Carolingians. The Germanic ‘barbarians’ who took over former Roman provinces and areas under Roman influence in what we now call Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain evolved between them a collection of states and a range of international relations that would shape the whole of European politics and society for centuries to come. We shall take a mixture of thematic and narrative approaches to this vast topic, using primary sources in translation throughout, and explore the nature of the new states, their ruling elites, their religion and culture, and their relations (friendly and hostile) with the wider world of the old Byzantine empire and the new empire of the Islamic Caliphate.

This module explores, thematically and conceptually, a crucial stage in the development of Europe. The period c.1000–1500 in Europe saw some of the farthest-reaching changes in the continent’s history; changes that shape the world we live in today. The frontiers of western Europe expanded in almost every direction through conquest and settlement; the powers of both secular and ecclesiastical authorities increased through the growth of governments and state bureaucracies; there was rapid growth in the economy and in the power of those who controlled production; the emergence and development of new and diverse forms and expressions of religious life and devotion; and the establishment of an international European culture in the worlds of learning and the arts. At the same time, this period saw the birth of the Inquisition, the persecution of heretics and other religious minorities such as the Jews, and of perceived sexual deviants; increasingly effective state oppression of political dissent; and growing corruption in institutions. The approach of the module is firmly comparative, and the geographical scope is wide: from the British Isles to the Crusader States. Building on the overview of major themes and historiographical debates in the lectures, the seminars will be devoted to reading and discussing primary sources in translation for each of the module’s ten topics.

Assumptions about the limitations and subordination of the female sex, reflected in the medieval preference for inheritance in the male line, seemed to exclude women from demonstrating royal power and authority. Monarchy was a role theoretically moulded for men; in the intensely Christian society of the Latin West female sovereignty could be decried as unnatural and inherently riven with sexual predation. Particular circumstances and personalities challenged these ideas. The module will operate though a number of case-studies, all running under the thematic headings of: (as appropriate) daughter, wife, mother and widow. In doing so, we will see that the importance of blood-line; influence over the court, the royal bed and children; as well as patronage of cultural outlets and the Church, meant – even in the face of savage criticism – queens could both guide and exercise royal authority. Two case-studies external to the Latin West (Byzantium and the Mongols) offer fruitful and engaging comparative material.

The Ottoman Empire was the largest and longest-surviving Muslim empire in history. This module explores the empire at its height, when it reached Croatia and Algeria in the west, the Persian Gulf in the east, Ukraine in the north and Yemen in the south, while being centred in the Middle East and Balkans. Covering the period from the conquest of Constantinople to the accession of the modernizing Sultan Selim III, the module traces dramatic changes in the both the internal dynamics of the empire and its position in the world, exploring topics including the political structure of the empire, the role of Islam and religious conversion, the place of the large non-Muslim population, Ottoman literature and culture, and the empire’s relations with Christian powers in Europe. Connecting Europe with Asia and Africa, the Ottoman Empire played a critical role in the emergence of the modern world, and the module engages with key questions in early modern global history, including the development of the concept of Europe and the shift of economic and political power from east to west.

This module will examine superpower relations during the Cold War, including the collapse of the USSR and the period of uncertainty which followed. It takes a global comparative perspective in telling the history of international relations in the period 1945-91, and the development of a ‘New World Order’ to 1998.  The main lecture programme will consider the development of the Cold War, examining how individual nations and theatres of conflict were affected by the core superpower tensions, particularly during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the age of mutually assured destruction. Key themes will include nuclear tensions and the space race, and examines the waste of human lives in all of the proxy-wars waged in China, Korea, Afghanistan, the Middle-East and elsewhere in an era of ‘peace that is no peace’, as George Orwell predicted in August 1945.  Seminars will focus on areas of direct conflict and the prevalence of war across the globe, plus cultural issues such as competition in the 1976, 1980 and 1984 Olympics as much as the nuclear stand-off between east and west.

The traditional historiography of western political thought has a tendency to jump from the Ancient Greeks to Augustine to Machiavelli, ignoring the wealth of ideas and theories to be found in between. This module seeks to supplement, and even challenge, this standard canon by paying attention to the ‘lesser’ thinkers that helped to shape the intellectual discourse of the medieval and early modern periods. Beginning with Cicero, whose writings drew on the thought of Plato and came themselves to be a source of inspiration for later thinkers, this module proceeds chronologically to explore the development of central debates about the role and nature of authority in society. We survey the influence that Islamic political theorists – especially through their engagement with classical texts ‘lost’ to the west – had on European thinking. The conciliar debates and the enduring conflict of Church and State are examined, providing a way of understanding the ‘rebirth’ of republican thought in the late medieval period and early modernity. Finally, we look at how Machiavelli – still often dismissed as a simple apologist for tyranny – did not constitute an aberration in the history of political thought but was, in fact, a theorist seeking to resolve long-running debates and also the progenitor of a theory of the State that would itself provoke enduring discussion.

Beginning with a brief overview of Iberia, Africa and the Americas in the late fifteenth century, this module explores how subsequent encounters between societies on both sides of the Atlantic created the complex world of colonial Latin America. This module will examine the social, cultural, economic, political and religious development of Latin America from the first encounters to 1650. This module emphasizes the transatlantic connections between Spain, Portugal, West Africa and the Americas that resulted in the dynamic movement of people and ideas within and across the broader Iberian world. Themes covered include colonial encounters and issues of translation, religious change and local religiosity, Iberian and indigenous contributions to scientific knowledge, colonial hierarchies and inequalities, exploitation and enslavement, and strategies of resistance. Students will gain not only a basic understanding of social transformations in early colonial Latin America but also approaches to critically analyzing the impact of hierarchies of gender, race and status on individuals living in colonial society.

This module explores the transformation from empire to nation state in the Near and Middle East, from Greece to Iran, during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. We study the ambitious attempts at modernization undertaken by Middle Eastern governments, as the region came under intense pressure from western colonial powers; focusing on the Ottoman Empire, but with some reference to Qajar Persia. We then explore the impact of World War One, which shattered the region’s political order, and look at the different types of nation-state that emerged in its aftermath: colonial states like French-ruled Syria and Lebanon, independent monarchies such as Egypt and Iran, and the aggressively secular Republic of Turkey. The key historical process in this period was the eclipse of old religious and imperial forms of identity by new national identities. The rise of nationalism manifested in dynamic and creative cultural and political reform, but also in horrific acts of violence such as the Armenian genocide. The module will also explore the ways in which Middle Easterners reconciled Islam with modernity, and the integration of the region into the increasingly globalized capitalist economy. Overhanging all of the topics we study is the vexed historiographical question of to what extent the transition to modernity entailed westernization. This is a standalone module that is accessible to all – previous study of Middle Eastern history is not required.

The Italian Renaissance is conventionally portrayed as a period of extraordinary cultural and artistic renewal, and unprecedented economic prosperity. It is also associated with the experimentation of republican forms of government unique in Europe and with high standards of education and consumption. This module will verify the validity of this picture by considering the everyday experience of the people – men and women, workers and merchants, slaves and patricians, nuns and monks, Christians, Jews and Muslims – who lived in the cities of Northern and Central Italy between 1350 and 1650. It will assess the impact that artistic developments, humanist values, the ideals of equality promoted by the republican state and the policy of the Counter-Reformation had on these various walks of life and, in particular, on: political participation, class conflict, intellectual life and education, ways of inhabiting, material culture, tastes and manners, crime and violence, gender relationships and sexual deviancy, religious vocations.

American economic hegemony from the Atlantic Charter to the end of the Great Recession is covered in this module, dealing with the world economy from the return to U.S. prosperity in the 1940s through to its eclipse as a guiding power. The United States dominated the supranational institutions which came out of the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement – IMF, the World Bank, etc., and benefitted from the ‘free trade imperialism’ they subjected the capitalist world to until the 1970s.  From the 1970s, even given the triumphalism of the Reagan era, the U.S. was increasingly challenged by the European Union and East Asian nations for global economic dominance, starting with the OPEC oil price crises of 1973-80. Topics in America’s long run ‘rise and fall’ include the Marshall Plan; the ‘Golden Age’ of western economic growth; the rise of welfare spending and economic planning; the fall of the Keynesian consensus; stagflation and the rise of the New Right; the rise of the less-developed economies; the end of the Soviet system; and the collapse of U.S. and UK banking (from 2007/8).

Who were the Victorians? What did they believe in? How far were notions of vice and virtue in conflict in the Victorian period? And how are the Victorian years still relevant to us today? This one-term module offers an overview of the dramatic political, gender, cultural and social contours of life in the British Isles during the Victorian period, so often still seen as the height of British progress and self-confidence. The module is framed between the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne in 1837 - aged just eighteen – and her death in 1901. Topics studied along the way include the role and image of the monarchy; the decline of the aristocracy; the lives of the urban and industrial working classes; race and black lives; politics in the age of Gladstone and Disraeli; feminism and the Victorian women's movement; marriage, morality and Victorian sexuality; democracy, citizenship and the demand for the vote from various voices; religion, science and doubt; Victorian art and visual culture; and famine, loyalism and nationalism in Victorian Ireland. This is a module that is essential for anyone wishing to understand not just the Victorians, but the nature of the world they bequeathed, and will leave students wanting to study modern British history in greater depth during their final year of study.

This module explores the variety of ways in which the British people experienced the dramatic, fast-moving, and often tumultuous twentieth century. From the soaring ambition of the Edwardian years to the rampant acquisition of the 1980s under Thatcher, communities across Britain were confronted with a relentless series of challenging events and phenomena, including two world wars, and state and society underwent transformative change. At the beginning of our period, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the mother state of the largest empire the world had ever seen; eighty odd years later, the empire was no more and British home territory had been significantly reduced. Quite apart from the political status and shape of the state, moreover, British mentalities, lifestyles and standards of living were fundamentally different in the 1980s and ‘90s than they had been at the dawn of the century. This module will introduce students to the story of how British communities made the remarkable journey from one world to the other.

This module surveys the history of the United States of America from its origins as an independent nation to the end of Reconstruction in 1877. During this formative period the United States experienced rapid and dramatic demographic, territorial, and economic changes, developing from a young nation threatened by European and Native American enemies to a continental power. In charting this period of staggering growth, we will explore not only the establishment of political institutions and practices, but how the growing sectional crisis over slavery led to a bloody civil war (1861-1865) that threatened to tear asunder the fledgling American republic. In telling this story, the module will interrogate five core themes: Revolution, Democracy, Westward Expansion, Sections and Sectionalism, and the Crisis of the Union. These themes incorporate multiple topics, including (but by no means limited to) Native Americans, race and slavery, reform movements (including women's rights), and the growth of American capitalism.

This module offers an overview of US history since 1900. It examines the social, cultural, economic and political contours of that history, incorporating topics such as westward expansion, industrialisation and urbanization, the progressive era, the First World War, the Great Depression and the New Deal, the Second World War, the Cold War, domestic developments in the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement, developments in the 1970s and the rise of the New Right in the 1980s. The module examines the domestic and foreign policy concerns of the Clinton administration. Particular attention is devoted to Clinton’s efforts to reshape his party and his administration’s efforts to secure peace in Northern Ireland and Israel.  The module assesses the varied ways in which the War on Terror reshaped America’s foreign policy and how foreign policy concerns impacted the subsequent election. It concludes with an examination of President Obama’s successful campaign and evaluates the role that racial and religious prejudice played in his election. Particular attention is given to the shaping experiences of race, ethnicity, gender and class in the American experience.

This module explores how China made its transition from isolated, self-contained 'Middle Kingdom' in the middle of the nineteenth century, to its present day status as emerging global superpower. The module begins with the Opium Wars, which announced the arrival of foreign powers in China, but also marked the beginning of its opening up to a new age. It then follows China's development, navigating the major themes of Chinese Modern History including the social stresses and political movements that led to the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in the Revolution of 1911, and the May Fourth Movement of 1919; the origins and effects of the Sino-Japanese War; the rise of Chinese Communism and its impact after Mao came to power, from the Long March to the Cultural Revolution; and China's progress since 1978 in balancing communist principles with market-driven economic growth. Overall the module examines how a new nation was built, not just in political and social terms but also through the experiences of the people who lived through it.

The module explores perceptions of the holy man in different religions and traditions through the centuries, in the wider historical and cultural context. Through a variety of visual sources such as icons, reliquaries and other forms of sacred art, and textual sources (in translation), including scriptural, theological, philosophical, hagiographical, and hymnographical texts, students familiarise themselves with important aspects of sanctity and spirituality, assessing the place and role of holy men and women in society, both in East and West. Covering Hindu, Buddhist, Greek, Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions, the module examines the ideals, practices and experiences of hermits and coenobetic monks, stylites and holy fools, martyrs and married saints, among other groups, looking at ways in which ‘holiness’ and ‘sacred space’ can be a significant aspect of historical research in our attempt to understand a period, a society and a culture.

In antiquity, the history of science was not always a narrative of progress, and common beliefs and scientific theory were generally at odds. While the broader population largely believed that the earth was flat, scientists routinely worked with sphere shaped models. They even went as far as calculating the circumference of the earth. But some theories were too counter-intuitive even for scientists: by at least the 3rd century BC the theory of the solar system as we know it today had been discovered, but never made it into the mainstream. Rather, scientists came up with very convoluted systems, which had the earth in the centre of the universe rather than orbiting around the sun. This module is going to introduce you to some more unexpected twists and turns in the history of ancient science, for instance attempts at explaining phenomena such as earth quakes, volcano eruptions or even thunder or rainbows. We will also be covering horoscopes, music theory, alchemy and atoms. Moreover, you are going to hear that it could be challenging to be a scientist: Pythagoras had to go into exile for political reasons, Archimedes had to move into arms development and Maria, who is at the root of what later became chemistry, was all but forgotten.

This module sketches the emergence of modern India (and its neighbours Pakistan and Bangladesh) from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. It includes such iconic historical events as the Great Mutiny of 1857, the Amritsar massacre, Gandhi’s Salt March, the Partition of India into Pakistan and India, and the recent slide of the region into the grip of competing religious fundamentalisms. Behind these events stand bigger questions that have also affected other parts of the so-called ‘Third World’: how has colonialism changed local social and political structures and to what extent can it be blamed for problems in the present? To what extent have the multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan societies of the South managed to fit in modern identity politics? To what extent is ‘development’ an achievable or even valid political goal in this region? This module seeks to give students a sound factual and conceptual framework that will – alongside being better informed about one of the hot topics of today – facilitate subsequent learning in Further and Special Subject modules with a South Asian flavour.

Beginning in the years shortly before the Fourth Crusade captured and sacked Constantinople in April 1204, this module traces the slow decline and fall of the Byzantine empire (also known as Byzantium). It will examine how the Byzantines regrouped in the successor state of Nicaea and slowly recovered from the disaster of 1204. Emperor Michael VIII retook Constantinople in 1261 and reconstituted the empire much as it had been in 1200. The euphoria at this apparently miraculous victory soon evaporated. By 1300, the Byzantines were struggling to defend their borders against waves of new enemies, east and west, and social, political and religious divisions led to a disastrous civil war in 1347-54. It was the Ottoman Turks who were able to take advantage of Byzantium’s weakness by securing a foothold on the European side of the Dardanelles and ultimately conquering the entire Balkans. The module will examine why Byzantium first recovered and then declined, providing an introduction to some primary sources of information such as the work of contemporary historians George Akropolites and Nikephoros Gregoras. It ends with the Ottoman capture of Constantinople in 1453 and the fall of last Byzantine outpost of Mistra seven years later.

After the Fall of Byzantium almost all Greeks – people who spoke the Greek language, professed the Greek Orthodox faith, or identified culturally and ethnically as Greek – lived in the Ottoman Empire and the Frankish outposts in the Eastern Mediterranean.  However, the violent upheavals which characterised the end of Byzantium also gave rise to the first significant waves of Greek emigration from the Islamic East to the Christian states of Central and Western Europe.  This module will examine the history of the Greeks who remained under Ottoman and Frankish rule, and those who chose to try their luck abroad, laying the foundations of the first of many Greek diaspora communities linking East and West. The influence of Enlightenment thought on the emergence of the movement for Greek independence, the bitter struggle against the Ottoman Empire which broke out in 1821, and the eventual creation of a small Greek state under the protection of the Great Powers of Europe will also be studied. The main part of the module will be devoted to a detailed overview of the political, social and cultural history of Greece and the leading Greek diaspora communities throughout the world during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

This module offers students an intriguing a journey into the history of the country that invented the word “fascism” and, after a few decades, experienced the electoral rise of a media tycoon. This raises a bigger fundamental question: Is Italy as a proper “laboratory” for western democracies? The module consequently scrutinises the main political, cultural, and social features and the historical “turning points” of this comparatively young nation state. Students will discover how the past shapes and influences the present in Italian culture and politics and will learn the challenge of the various unresolved issues and how the state reacts to them. It will also explore the forces behind the unification of the country in the 1800s, fascism, the impact of the Cold War, the high levels of politicisation in national life as well as the figure of Silvio Berlusconi who has dominated recent Italian politics.

Further Subjects

The Victorians were both fascinated and repelled by their rapidly growing capital city, often at the same time. For the American writer Henry James, London was not only “magnificent”, but also a “brutal” city which had “gathered together so many of the darkest sides of life”. This module aims to take students on a stroll through the streets of ‘Victorian Babylon’ as well as inside its homes, workplaces and municipal and reformatory buildings. The module will enable students to navigate its extremes of imperial and consumerist splendour, and crushing poverty. We will begin with the people that shaped Victorian London – reformers, radicals, religious groups and immigrants. The module will then negotiate the landscapes of the capital – the West and East Ends, suburbia and parks and cemeteries. We will take a look inside some of the new civic and disciplinary spaces that shaped Victorian social and cultural life – courts, prisons, asylums and schools. Finally, we will focus on the growing material world of ‘Victorian things’ – exploring the new culture of spectacle and display that emerged in the metropolis. A particular methodological focus will be on introducing students to exciting new ways of studying the urban experience, and understanding the built environment, by making use of the rich material culture of Victorian London. The module will include at least four site-specific seminars where students will analyse surviving objects and environments at first hand. 

The Reagan Presidency 1981-89 was the catalyst for the neo-libertarian ascendency which has come to dominate American politics.  However, the historiography is divided, and almost bi-polar: rarely is there a balanced analysis of the Reagan years, and the man himself is ‘off-limits’ in America. The module will look to address aspects of Reagan’s influence on America, many of which still inform U.S. society, and will concentrate on three main areas: Reaganomics, and its legacy in neo-libertarianism; Social Conservatism, particularly in the Reagan’s neglect of the HIV/AIDs epidemic with Federal cuts in medical funding, and his courting of the Religious Right; and the Cold War in his fervent anti-communism, but also his willingness to distort U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and Latin America to this end.  The module will start with are review of his career as an actor and as President of SAG in his HUAC testimonies; his years as Californian Governor, and his ascendancy as the post-Nixon face of the GoP, before dealing with his Presidency through a series of topic-based case-studies, with a retrospective on the Reagan legacy in the Bush 41 years, and in American memory thereafter, and particularly in light of his Alzheimer’s in his later years.

In recent years, images of refugees crossing the Mediterranean in flimsy boats have been ever-present in the media. But the movement of peoples around this body of water is far from a recent phenomenon. In this module, we will explore the history of migration and mobility around the Mediterranean Sea from the nineteenth century to today, examining the reasons why people choose or are forced to leave their homes; how they experience the crossing of borders and how governments have sought to manage the flow of people over time.  We will concentrate on four main types of mobility, namely settler colonialism, refugees, labour migration and tourism, focusing on case studies from the European, North African and Middle Eastern coastline of the Mediterranean. Topics will include the French colonisation of Algeria from the 1830s; Jewish migration to Palestine/Israel; and the advent of mass tourism in 1960s Spain under Franco’s dictatorship. Students will also engage with contemporary aspects of the issues raised, including the ongoing movement of Syrian and other refugees across the Mediterranean; the sustainability of mass tourism in cities like Barcelona and Venice; and the future of British retirement migration to Europe post-Brexit.

Europe underwent a ‘food revolution’ in the Middle Ages. Between c.1100 and c.1300 the production, supply, preparation and consumption of food had changed dramatically. In the early Middle Ages the diet of even the wealthy was monotonous and based on local and seasonal supplies. By c.1400, however, courts vied to outdo each other in extravagance and pageantry, and the first celebrity chefs were even writing their own cookbooks. The revival of long-distance trade, improvements in shipping technologies and extensive contacts with new cultures from territorial expansion in the eastern Mediterranean had brought a wealth of new ingredients and new cooking methods to the tables of western Europe. The increasing prosperity of the nobility and mercantile classes, in turn, ushered in a period of conspicuous consumption that increased demand for exotic spices and new recipes. At the same time, however, the ideal of voluntary fasting and of simple eating remained a powerful spiritual inducement and an exemplar of ‘the good life’. Advocates of spiritual and bodily health urged the benefits of simplicity in cooking, and use of ‘natural’ ingredients. Moreover, the spectre of famine from failed harvests was never far away, as population increase before c.1300 put increasing pressure on agricultural resources. As in our own world, feast, fast and famine operated in precarious balance with each other. This module explores the development and expansion of Europe through food: how and why tastes changed; how new technologies and socio-economic change underpinned cultural change; and what contemporaries thought about eating and drinking.

The Later Roman Empire module spans the four centuries that marked the end of classical antiquity and the rise of the early medieval world. The module opens with the transformation of the Roman empire under Diocletian (284-305) and Constantine (306-337), and with the conversion of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, in AD 312. Students will explore the fundamental political, social and religious developments of the fourth century, which saw the emergence of a Christian Roman empire and the migration of the Goths and Huns towards the imperial frontier. We will then compare the contrasting fortunes of the western and eastern regions of the empire in the fifth and sixth centuries. In the west imperial power collapsed under the waves of barbarian invasions, to be succeeded by the Germanic kingdoms of the Goths and Franks and by the rising prestige of the Roman papacy. Yet in the east the empire survived and reached a new peak during the attempted reconquest of the emperor Justinian (527-565), before triumphing in the last great conflict between the Roman and Persian empires with which this module concludes. These were centuries of dramatic change, accessible through an impressive combination of literary sources (read in translation) and material evidence, and the legacy of those changes exerted a profound influence on later history.

By the middle of the seventh century, the very existence of the Byzantium (also known as the Byzantine Empire) was in question. It had lost almost half its territory to the Arabs and even its capital city of Constantinople was now under direct threat. Yet the state not only weathered this period of crisis but revived and flourished so that by 1050, it was once more a major power in the region, stretching from southern Italy to Armenia. This module will trace the reasons why it survived, how it reversed the long series of defeats and the profound changes that took place in its military organisation, society, religious life, art and culture. It will also examine how one key to the its success was the way in which it interacted with the world around it, particularly with the Islamic caliphate, western Europe and the Slavonic world. Although the Byzantines frequently fought their neighbours, they preferred where possible to influence them through diplomacy and conversion. Then in the later eleventh century, new enemies appeared on the borders and Byzantium began to contract once more, a series of events that was to provide the background for the later launch of the First Crusade in 1095.

Between 1553 and 1603, England found itself in the unprecedented situation of being ruled by two successive queens regnant, Mary Tudor and her sister Elizabeth.  Drawing on new sources and interpretations, this module challenges commonplace arguments about their relative successes and failures in order to rethink Tudor queenship and question the enduring reputations of these infamous queens. Forget ‘Bloody Mary’, shouldn’t Mary be considered England’s most significant and overlooked monarch? She was a political pioneer, the first woman to be crowned queen of England. She won the throne against the odds, preserving the Tudor line of succession and establishing precedents for female rule. Elizabeth followed Mary, able to learn from her sister’s mistakes, draw on her example and the precedents in law, ceremony and ritual already set. Should Elizabeth’s reign not be considered more a triumph of political spin and style than significance and substance? Was she not an ultimately failed monarch who was reckless with England’s security and whose refusal to marry led to the end of the Tudor dynasty and the accession of a Scottish King on the English throne? From a range of interdisciplinary perspectives including politics and personnel, religion, ceremony, image and dress, the module will recast the traditional trajectory of Tudor monarchy by reconsidering the queens in relation to each other and to their male counterparts. The module is taught through lively debates and student led discussions in weekly seminars.

The triumph of the First Crusade (1099) resulted in the establishment of Latin Christian rule in the Levant for almost two hundred years. This module is primarily concerned to examine how the settlers maintained their hold on a region which was spiritually, economically and politically important to the Byzantine empire and the Muslim world as well. The reaction of these groups to the crusades and the development of their relationship with the settlers is an integral part of the subject; the 'jihad' became the channel for Muslim opposition and peaked with Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem in 1187. Through close engagement with the primary texts we will look how the Franks lived in the Near East, considering trade, pilgrimage and the tumultuous politics of the kingdom of Jerusalem, paying particular attention to the role of royal women. The major crusading expeditions of the age – the hopeless Second Crusade, the epic Third Crusade and the calamitous Fourth Crusade (sacking the Christian city of Constantinople) enable us to look at the preaching and the motives of the crusaders as well as considering the aims and outcome of each of these campaigns.

This module offers a cultural and imaginative engagement with the ideas and realities of British Imperialism in the past, the present and indeed the future. Students will use books, visual and material cultures, fiction, film and radio to explore the ways in which the British Empire has been imagined, understood and remembered from the eighteenth century to the present. The module is split into three main sections, the first looking at the way Empire was imagined and presented at the time of its existence, the second exploring the recent ‘nostalgia boom’ surrounding Empire in the present and the ways in which the imperial past is mobilised in modern debates (surrounding, for example, Brexit), and the third looking at how imperial tropes and understandings have informed science fiction reimaginings of the past through telling stories about the future. A mixture of traditional and innovative assessments (including source commentaries, blog posts and podcasts) will push students to think both analytically and creatively about the role of the past in the present and the future. Students will emerge with a highly developed ability to analyse and critique primary and secondary evidence, as well as having gained employability skills relating to independent research, oral and visual presentation, and creative industries. The module presents an exciting opportunity to engage with the cultural history of the British Empire, as well as creative approaches to learning, assessment and employability.

“Martin didn't make the movement, the movement made Martin” noted veteran civil rights activist Ella Baker. Baker's perceptive comments strike at the very heart of contemporary historiographical debates. On the one hand, scholars have increasingly viewed the mass black movement for civil rights in the United States as a grassroots phenomenon that was rooted in local communities and based upon local leadership and local needs. On the other hand, scholars still emphasise the vital national leadership role played by Martin Luther King, Jr. in the civil rights struggle, particularly from the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott to King's 1968 assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. This module looks at both strands of this scholarship and seeks to assess the dynamics of the movement at both local and national levels, and to examine the tensions that often existed between them, as well as addressing the central controversies and debates surrounding King’s movement leadership. The module covers topics including: Desegregation of schools, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the formation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Albany and Birmingham campaigns, the March on Washington, the Sit-in Movement and tensions with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The slender flapper, cigarette holder in hand, off to cocktails or a night at the flicks epitomizes the surface glamour of modernity. With an office job, a swimsuit, sex appeal (known as ‘SA’ or ‘It’) and a voguish knowledge of Freud, she was ready for anything. But how real were her gains? This module explores the words and experiences of British women in a century of rapid social, economic and cultural transformation. We will determine the constraints on women in war and peace, politics, law and citizenship, education and paid work, marriage, motherhood and family. But we will also explore women's dreams and disappointments in courtship and romance, sexual relationships and desire, domesticity and home-making, consumerism and fashion. The elaboration of femininity and gender roles in the glossy media of advertising, women’s magazines, paperback books, broadcasting and film is a continuous theme of the module. Together we will look at expectations and outcomes, promise and its containment. Perhaps the Hoover and the hostess trolley were not the answer to a woman’s prayers?

The module will examine the intellectual and cultural history of Russia in the turbulent years from the Great Reforms of the 1850s and 1860s to the 1917 Revolution. During this period, the Russian society experienced industrialisation, urbanisation, secularisation and the erosion of traditional values and social distinctions. The spread of literacy, the rise of popular culture, and mass politics all contrived to change the nature and the values of Russian society. In the absence of any established system of political freedom until the 1905 Revolution, Russian literature was a barometer of popular sentiment and a forum in which the great moral and political issues of the day were debated. The tension between reformism and revolution dominated the period. For many, the obduracy of the autocracy precluded the possibility of seeking a gradual reform of the state. Others struggled to reform the Empire whilst staving off violent revolution. The 1905 Revolution was a seminal moment in Russian history in this period. It heralded the explosion of mass movements onto the political stage confirmed for many observers their worst fears of the anarchy and violence that would accompany social revolution. The emphasis throughout will be on the dynamism of Russia in this period as all sections of society struggled to cope with change on an enormous scale at dizzying speeds.

In the first four decades of the twentieth century, the lands of Eastern Europe experienced a violent transformation, unlike any other the world had ever seen. The age-old Habsburg and Ottoman Empires collapsed during the war decade of 1912-1923 giving way to fragile nation-states marred by a multitude of problems throughout the interwar period. This module will dissect the causes of imperial collapse and highlight its deep-felt consequences for the successor states of Greece, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary to explain the unprecedented violence that turned these former borderlands into the bloodlands of World War Two. Using a wide range of sources, (including texts, images, and music), the module will examine in turn: multi-ethnic coexistence in the imperial lands; turn-of-the-century nationalist awakenings; ethnic cleansing and population displacement during World War One; the difficulties of nation-building in the region’s multi-ethnic states of the interwar period; the dismal fate of ethnic minorities and the growth of virulent antisemitism; the failure of parliamentary government and the ensuing militarisation of politics; the appeal of fascism, communism and authoritarianism; and, finally, the mass atrocities committed by erstwhile neighbours in World War Two. Throughout this tumultuous period, Eastern Europe became the testing ground for modern political ideologies from imperialism and democracy to Nazism and Communism. The premise of this module is therefore simple: we cannot understand the dynamics of the modern world without understanding the story of Eastern Europe in the early twentieth century.

This module aims to explore the chief themes of modern political thought through its leading figures from Rousseau (c. 1750) to the present. Term one examines thinkers writing to c. 1840, including Rousseau, Hume, Smith, Paine, Wollstonecraft, the early socialists, Hegel, and Tocqueville. Term two commences with Marx; then looks at J.S. Mill; Bakunin; Nietzsche; Orwell; Fanon and Gandhi; and Green Political Thought. By the middle of the eighteenth century the opulence fuelled by economic development had become increasingly central to social and political thought. By the 1750s, 'commercial society' had been described widely, and particularly in Britain, as the recent and most advanced stage of social progress, and as an historical period entailing its own moral standards, forms of government, and modes of economic interaction. The view that 'progress' was inevitably desirable met its greatest critic in Rousseau. It was met with a robust defence of modernity by Hume and Smith, amongst others, as well as the more modern democratic ideals inspired by the American revolution. In term two we will trace some of these developments into the 20th century, concentrating on the modern juxtaposition between liberalism and socialism, attempts to provide a middle way between them, the emergence of totalitarianism, the implications of imperialism and decolonisation for political thought, and the threat to democratic and liberal values posed by the growing spectre of environmental catastrophe.

The greatest calamity of peacetime capitalism since Adam Smith is the focus of this module, which looks at the causes and consequences of the Great Depression for Britain and America during the 1920s and 1930s.  Politicians, government advisors, and academics in the west were unable to explain why capitalist society was plunged so deeply into depression, and they were also perplexed as to why the usual remedies failed to generate forces of recovery. The 1920s and 1930s represented a low point in Government policy and was blighted by the emergence, and persistence, of a new problem: long-term unemployment. At the height of the Great Depression (1932/33) a quarter of the UK working population were unemployed, and perhaps a third of the US workforce were without a job. Topics include the Treaty of Versailles, the return to Gold, the General Strike, the Wall Street Crash, the Dust Bowl, the New Deal, the fall of the Second Labour Government, the Ottawa Agreement and the Jarrow March, allowing the path of the depression and recovery to be examined in depth by focusing on these case studies each week.

This module examines the occurrence of genocide from the colonial period to the present day. It deals with the development of the concept, with a particular focus on the man who coined the term ‘genocide’, the Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin and the debates in the United Nations which led to the formulation and acceptance of the UN Genocide Convention in 1948. We consider too the merits of different approaches to studying genocide, including political science and anthropology as well as history. The module then proceeds by examining the following case studies: the colonization of Australia and North America, the Herero genocide, the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, Stalin’s Great Terror, post-1945 genocides of indigenous peoples, Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia. In each case, we will not simply say whether or not genocide occurred but try to understand genocide in the context of the unfolding of a dynamic of violence, usually in the context of war and massive social crisis. We then analyse different explanations for genocide, including issues of nation-building and the ‘world system’ of competing states, race-theory, gender, and social psychological explanations of aggression. The module concludes by examining the promises and problems of genocide prevention and humanitarian intervention.

Terrorism has become one of the most pervasive and defining features of the second half of the 20th and now 21st Century. Indeed terrorism has transcended time and space and has been employed across a range of historic and geographic contexts by a range of actors, from lone-individuals to anti-colonial revolutionary organisations, and from fundamentalist religious groups to liberal democratic states. The module aims to examine the underlying reasons for the ascendancy of this form of political violence and the immense challenges it has posed to state and society throughout this period. The module adopts a comparative thematic approach examining various manifestations of terrorism including: anti-colonial terror in the post WWII period; the pervasive Red Terror’ of the 1970s; terrorism employed by ethno-nationalist and separatist groups; religious terrorism in various traditions; the state’s employment of terrorism; new-age terrorism; and of course the latest incarnation – al-Qaeda and the global Jihadists. This comparative approach employs various case studies to examine ubiquitous themes including power, identity, politics, society, the state and religion, all vis-a-vis terrorism, and deploys a diverse range of primary source material (both textual and audio-visual) to interrogate these themes.

This module investigates the deep shifts in humanitarian ideas, practices, and organisations over the past century and a half: from imperial ‘civilising missions’, through war and post-1918 efforts to ‘organise the peace’, followed by the reassertion of humanitarian values after 1945, through to humanitarianism in an age of decolonisation and cold war, and then the post-1990 challenges posed by so-called ‘complex emergencies’. Adopting a broad definition of humanitarianism – including not only emergency relief but also philanthropic programmes and legal and social reforms designed to prevent future suffering – the module focuses on the politics, culture, and development of humanitarianism, and asks what (and who) drove these shifts in policy and practice. The module takes a broadly chronological approach, and is structured around the big geopolitical shifts of this period. In each seminar we will explore, in historical context, a particular humanitarian ‘episode’ (whether crisis response or development programmes), which we then analyse more deeply through a particular case study. Several recurrent themes are threaded throughout: war and disaster relief, treatment of refugees, legal and social reforms, health programmes, and colonial and post-colonial contexts, as well as issues of geography, gender, and representation. By the end of the module, you will have developed a critical understanding of humanitarianism as a changing concept and practice, and also have a solid grasp of a substantial body of specialist scholarship related to it. You will have gained through discussion and debate an understanding of how humanitarian policies and practices were forged at different times – through the complex interactions of a range of humanitarian (and non-humanitarian) actors and institutions, in the crucible of national and international politics.

Sharīʿa law (Islamic law) is an important but widely misunderstood phenomenon that is central to several contemporary political controversies, including democratization in the Muslim world, political Islam and radical Islamism, and the status of the Muslim diaspora in the west. This module will help students understand sharīʿa law as an evolving legal tradition, by introducing them to the intellectual structure of the law and then tracing how sharīʿa has been manifested in a variety of historical contexts from the late Middle Ages until the 21st century, including the Ottoman Empire, the modern Middle East and modern Britain. The module explores various areas of law, including criminal law, constitutional law, property & trusts, and slavery, but it has a particular focus on family law – marriage, divorce and child-rearing – and its impact on gender in Muslim societies. The module uses these case studies to address the fundamental question of the relationship between sharīʿa law and political power: is sharīʿa law a constraint on government, or a tool government can use? How can a Muslim government adhering to sharīʿa law legislate? Can sharīʿa law be reconciled with democratic government? The module is accessible to all: previous knowledge of Islamic or Middle Eastern history is not required.

This module will examine the interconnected world created by the dynamic movements of people, plants, animals, ideas and products across the Atlantic basin during the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. Through the assigned readings and discussions, we will analyze the social, cultural and religious transformations taking place on both sides of the Atlantic as indigenous peoples, Africans and Europeans interacted with each other. The primary focus will be on the lands claimed by the Spanish and Portuguese empires, while also analyzing their entangled relationships with the emerging British, French and Dutch empires. Themes covered include imperial competition, migration, changing understandings of community and space as a result of the new encounters, the collection and circulation of botanical and medicinal knowledge, the impact of long distance trade on daily lives and material culture, the rise of the transatlantic slave trade and colonial forms of coercion and exploitation, and local struggles for rights.

Chinese women found their voice at the dawn of the modern era. Silent no longer, their roles in society changed fundamentally, taking on a complexity never seen before in Chinese history. This module brings these women into life, examining the impact they made not at the margins, but as main actors with their own narratives. Set against the broad sweep of modern Chinese political and social history from the 19th century to the late twentieth century, the module is structured in two parts. In the first term, there is an examination of the lives and impact of three powerful women: Empress Dowager Cixi; Soong Mei-ling (the wife of Chiang Kai-shek); and Jiang Qing (Madam Mao). The actions of these three figures not only shook up the existing political and social order in their country, but also had a huge impact globally. In the second term, the exploration shifts to a more thematic approach, in order to allow us to appreciate these women in historical context. The main concept to be addressed is Confucianism, and from this follows investigation of the impact of a changing China on several important sets of relationships including mother and daughter, and husband and wife. The module will also address several roles associated with Chinese women, such as writers, revolutionaries, housewives, factory workers, and prostitutes. The module uses a wide range of materials, including translated documents, filmed drama, newspapers, documentaries and biographies.

This module contrasts and compares the experience of state formation in four distinct countries of the Muslim world: Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Pakistan. Although separated by language, history and very different experiences of Imperial domination, each one of these countries has struggled with similar problems after achieving some form of independence: what kind of ‘modernity’ should a Muslim nation aspire to? How could some measure of ‘development’ be achieved in what was often seen as highly resistant ‘traditional’ societies? How much democracy could one allow in these newly-formed states before they became a threat to Western interests and obstacles to progress? How far were authoritarian regimes emboldened by continuing superpower meddling? Although subtly different in each case, the period saw the rise to prominence of two opposing poles across much of the region: on one side, developmental dictatorships, often led by men in (or recently out of) uniform like Ataturk, Nasser Ayub Khan; and, on the other, their home-made opponents, a radically new breed of religious agitators like Khomeini in Iran, Mawdudi in Pakistan or Sayyid Qutb in Egypt. In exploring the history of this period this module seeks to tackle larger questions that are still very much around today: are Muslims somehow constitutionally incapable of democratic self-government? Is ‘development’ a real possibility or only a dream, or even, a cynical ideology to facilitate the predominance of the wealthy? Why is it so hard to find the kind of left-liberal politics supported by many ‘progressively’-minded citizens in the West?

The First World War was a transformative event in modern British history, which, on the eve of its centenary, continues to provoke intense popular and academic interest. More than 1,000,000 British subjects lost their lives as a result of military service during the conflict, and many more were physically or psychologically traumatised. The destructive force of industrialised warfare led to a very direct civilian encounter with mass death and families and communities across the United Kingdom suffered unprecedented levels of bereavement. While the rupture between the pre- and post-war worlds should not be overstated, the cultural, social, political and economic landscape of the UK was radically altered by the experience of the conflict. To put it mildly, then, the impact of the First World War on British society was profound and long-lasting and the conflict retains considerable cultural resonance in 21st century Britain. This module will explore the British experience of the war and look at the ways in which the conflict has been interpreted and remembered in Britain in the century since it began.

This module examines the origins, escalation and end of ‘hot wars’ and the Cold War in Southeast Asia between 1945 and c.1979. The Vietnam War was one of the most significant and devastating conflicts in the second half of the twentieth century. Indeed, there was not one but two Vietnam Wars – the Vietnamese struggles against the French between 1946 and 1954 and against the Americans from 1955 to 1973. This period, moreover, witnessed nationalist and revolutionary movements in other parts of Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Laos, the East Indies (Indonesia), Malaya and Singapore, which resulted in the creation of new nation-states. Above all, the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union/China was superimposed on Southeast Asians’ fight for independence. This module explores how nationalism and decolonisation in Vietnam and Southeast Asia interacted with the global Cold War. While focusing on how successive American administrations got involved in the Vietnam War, the module will also consider the foreign policies of other great powers, such as France, Britain and China, and the agencies of Southeast Asian states. Rather than a ‘military history’ module, its primary concern is the diplomatic and political aspects of the Vietnam conflict.

This module explores how the French sought both to describe and transform their society in the turbulent century following 1789, through the lens of innovative works of literature, political thought, art and the social sciences. The spectacular upheavals of the revolutionary decades shattered traditional certainties about French society, but in their place offered violence, instability and new sources of social division. In the aftermath of the Revolution, French men and women believed they were living in a new and precarious world that demanded fresh tools to understand it and fresh ideas to fix it. We begin by considering how the Revolution itself spawned dreams of radical social transformation alongside urgent calls to end the turmoil. We then trace how socialist utopias, ‘realist’ novels and modern sociology all grew out of the same search to heal the wounds of post-revolutionary society. In the final part of the module, we see how fears of national decline and fantasies of cleansing violence haunted French society in the years preceding the Great War. Our sources include classic works of political philosophy by the revolutionary Condorcet, socialist Fourier, anarchist Proudhon and arch-conservative Maistre; novels by Balzac, Zola and Barrès; paintings by Courbet and Millet; historical writing by Michelet and Taine; films by Abel Gance; and the pioneering works of social investigation by Le Play and Durkheim. All sources are translated and no knowledge of French is expected.

Half a billion Muslim women today inhabit some 45 Muslim-majority countries, while another 30 or more countries contain significant Muslim minorities. Their histories, however, are rarely covered in undergraduate syllabi. This module with its focus on Muslim women's lives and experiences seeks to fill the gap. But equally it also offers students the opportunity to explore how Muslims - both women and men, individually and collectively – have sought to deal with the challenges faced by Muslim states and societies since c.1800. Refashioning the lives of Muslim women has proved to be high on the agenda of most Muslim (usually male but not always) reformers during this period, whatever their particular concerns and approaches. States too have prioritised the so-called ‘Woman Question’ in their efforts to adapt to changing realities. This module, therefore, focuses on the connections between political, social and religious developments in Muslim societies from a gender perspective, investigating how far the role of women has been influenced and shaped by factors such as the decline of Muslim political power, the rise of the West, the challenges of secularism, modernisation and development, the advent of feminism, the power of nationalism and the nation-state, and the impact of different processes of reform and revolution.

Art and architecture were key weapons in the construction of power in the Roman world and the establishment of the Empire. As Rome’s power expanded and its political system shifted towards Imperial rule, anecdotes abound as to the opulent and impressive building projects of Rome’s imperial family: thus the emperor Augustus found Rome brick and made it marble, whilst Nero’s private palace (the Domus Aurea) engulfed most of the city of Rome. Whether true or exaggerated, such tales emphasise the importance of architecture in ancient Rome and the impact and reception of building in the negotiation and contestation of power. Using both archaeological and literary evidence, this module looks at how those in power employ art and architecture to express their authority and values. It starts with examining how artistic commissions, prestigious public buildings and art-collecting played an important role in competition between the leading politicians of the late Roman Republic. It then moves on to explore the ways in which the ultimate winner of this rivalry, the emperor Augustus, and then his successors, used art and architecture to establish and legitimise sole power and familial succession. The module ends by exploring how Rome’s Imperial expansion led to increasing contact with a variety of cultures and religions and considers the ways in which diverse groups influenced the art and architectural style of ancient Rome and vice versa.

The module will focus on ten key cities dotted around the eastern fringe of the Mediterranean, all renowned for their rich, multi-ethnic character: Constantinople (Istanbul), Salonica (Thessaloniki), Smyrna (Izmir), Athens, Nicosia (Lefkosia), Aleppo, Beirut, Jaffa (Tel Aviv), Cairo and Alexandria. Primary and secondary sources including travelogues, memoirs, literary works, photographs, maps, architecture, and examples of the applied arts, will be used to illuminate the social history, demographic characteristics, and urban development of each city and highlight the major political changes and cultural influences over the past two centuries. The involvement of Great Britain and other European powers in regional affairs from the Battle of Aboukir in 1798 to the Suez Crisis in 1956 will be examined, as will the relationship between the indigenous Orthodox Christian, Jewish and Muslim populations, and foreign communities and diasporas including European Levantines, Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews, and Muslims from other regions. Discussion of nationalist movements, colonial legacies, revolutions, ethnic conflicts and cosmopolitan nostalgia will help illuminate the underlying causes of the serious tensions which emerged after World War II and continue to plague the region.

Beginning with the Restoration of Charles II and ending in the ‘Regency’ period during the reign of George IV, this module examines how men and women’s perceptions of themselves were moulded by their families and wider society, and the extent to which their experiences were determined by gendered perceptions of sexual, racial, and class differences. Many of the topics covered will focus on areas where criminal, ecclesiastical or civil laws shaped (or were shaped by) dominant ideas about gender differences. Among the many topics covered, it will explore aspects of male and female sexuality, experiences of marriage and separation, of family life and adolescence; gendered concepts of sin, crime, and juvenile delinquency; the pleasures and perils of new forms of shopping, fashion and entertainment, and the working lives of businesswomen, actresses, prostitutes and male-midwives. Students will have the opportunity to engage with a wide range of printed and digital primary sources and learn to present their work through a variety of mediums to academic and wider public audiences.

The rise of a xenophobic, demagogic and nationalist political right is one of the most unexpected and controversial phenomena in contemporary times. Is it fascist, populist or what else? How can we apply these concepts today? The Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump have also caused many to wonder whether the age of globalization and multiculturalism is now past. This Further Subject will add a scholarly dimension to such timely debates by tracing the rise of the “nationalist” far right from its early twentieth-century roots to the present.  It will show how since the establishment of fascism in 1919, a historical dimension along with a transnational methodological frame are fundamental tools to understand and assess the nature of extremist cultures and political parties. The module will therefore look at their early manifestations in Europe and the US, the ideological evolutions, the shared features, the transatlantic interactions, and the recent developments across national borders.

Ancient medicine was a very highly developed discipline, which had a holistic view of the patient, their life style, occupation and diet. Key to health was a perfect balance of four humours in the human body, which corresponded to the four qualities of hot, cold, wet and dry found in food, drink and the environment. Mental and physical health problems were thought to be an imbalance in these humours or qualities - our phrase "common cold" is for instance a remnant of this theory. This module will provide an introduction to the development of ancient medicine from Hippocrates to Galen, and its reception and development in the Medieval and Islamic world. It will also cover topics that are still being debated today, for instance FGM and gender reassignment surgery. A particular highlight in the session on illuminated herbals. The module also includes an employability session, in which we will explore the job market in the field of medical humanities and other associated disciplines, and also potential PG opportunities and funding.

Special Subjects

This module explores the emergence and subsequent career of international ‘development’ from the late colonial period to the present. It seeks to understand how so many politicians, scientists and ordinary people around the world - in the rich North as much as in the global South - became enthralled to the idea that a concerted and theory-guided push for improvement could equalise living standards and life chances around the world. Not only did this dream survive a number of rapid changes in direction – from big projects to ‘small is beautiful’, from macro-economic planning to ‘human needs’ - it also proved remarkably resilient to evidence of failure on the ground. When seen from a historical perspective, many policy interventions in the name of ‘development’ did not turn out as expected. Most failed according to the terms they were set up for, and unintended consequences ranged from good to bad. Through an analysis of key intellectual trends in development thought and case studies of landmark development projects from around the world, this module seeks to encourage a critical understanding of the desire ‘to develop’ the Global South, and to understand its evolution within the context of geo-political interests, economic globalisation and the sometime self-servicing agenda of the international ‘aid industry’. Reflecting its learning outcomes, this module uses a different assessment model to some other Special Subjects: there is no final exam, but an emphasis on written coursework and oral presentation to be delivered in a variety of contexts throughout the year.

 ‘What a superb woman she is, right and beautiful!’ Margaret Thatcher, eulogised here by the poet Phillip Larkin, was Britain’s first female Prime Minister, residing in 10 Downing Street (between 1979 and 1990) for longer than any other politician in twentieth-century Britain, and the first party leader since Lord Palmerston to win three successive general elections. Arguably, she was the first political leader since William Gladstone to give her name to a political ‘ideology’. But what exactly was Thatcherism, and why does Margaret Thatcher still remain such a deeply controversial figure, so politically and culturally relevant to contemporary society? This module will seek to evaluate how far Thatcherism succeeded in its objectives, especially when measured against Margaret Thatcher’s pledge to ‘change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society’. Students who take this module will have the opportunity to study the origins, the controversies, and the impact of the turbulent Thatcher years. The module content focuses on exploring the interactions between the political, cultural and personal histories of Britain from 1970 through to 2000. Party politics will form an important part of the module - the Heath administration of 1970-4; Labour in power and in opposition; the economic ‘revolutions’ of Thatcherism; the challenge of the SDP; and the rise of New Labour under a youthful Tony Blair. You will explore the multiple points of ‘crisis’ for the British state - the Winter of Discontent of 1978-9; the race riots of the early 1980s; the impact of the Falklands War; the AIDS pandemic; the Miners’ Strike of 1984; the challenges of Scottish and Welsh nationalisms; and the intractable Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’. You will also explore the exciting wider cultural contexts of this period, for instance through popular music; the Greenham Common women’s protests; and the impact of immigration upon both existing and new minority communities. The module will also explore Britain’s broader place in the wider world - Thatcherism and the Soviet Union / Cold War and, inevitably, Britain’s troubled relationship with continental Europe including entry into the EEC in 1973, the 1975 Referendum, and the rise of Euro-scepticism. The module will expose you to a wide and ever-growing array of primary sources - written, visual and oral - as it seeks to make sense of the Thatcher era both in its own terms and in historical memory.

In October 1187 Saladin, the Muslim ruler of the Near East, captured Jerusalem for Islam. This crushing blow to the people of Western Christendom triggered the Third Crusade. Over the next five years the most prestigious monarchs and nobles of the day strove to regain the holy city. These campaigns claimed the life of Emperor Frederick I of Germany, tarnished the reputation of King Philip of France, and set in opposition the two iconic figures of the crusading age, Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. This module will assess the motives and actions of the crusaders taking in a broad spectrum that encompasses preaching, recruitment, finance, logistics, diplomacy and travel, as well as the progress and outcome of the campaign in the Holy Land. It will also include a detailed understanding of Saladin’s response to the crusade. The final weeks of the module will look at the memory and legacy of this campaign down the centuries. Saladin stands as an iconic figure in the history of the Near East as the man who defeated the crusaders, while in the West he moved from being ‘the son of Satan’ to a man admired for his chivalric virtues and dashing charm.

The capture of the capital of the Byzantine empire (also known as Byzantium) by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II (1451-1481) on 29 May 1453, was one of the pivotal events of the later Middle Ages. The module opens with a survey of the background: the decline of Byzantium, the rise of the Ottoman Turks and importance of the Italian maritime republics of Genoa and Venice. It then turns to the unsuccessful Ottoman attack on Constantinople in 1422, the subsequent Byzantine bid to secure western military aid at the Council of Ferrara/Florence, the disastrous crusade of Varna of 1443-4 and the lead-up to the final Ottoman attack. We will make a detailed examination of the many contemporary accounts of the siege and consider their evidence as to why Mehmed II succeeded where so many others had failed in the past. Particular attention will be paid to how eyewitnesses explained the disaster, and how they balanced metaphysical reasons such as the judgment of God and the wheel of fortune with practical ones, such as human weakness, the role of heavy cannon and a desire to blame anyone whom they disliked. Finally the aftermath of the fall of Constantinople will be examined: the call for a crusade to retake the city and the efforts of Pope Pius II to orchestrate a united response to the Turkish victory.

This module examines critical engagement with commercial and industrial society in Britain during the long nineteenth century. It focuses on the central argument that waste, competition, selfishness, vice and urban poverty were seen as concomitant to the advance of commercial society from the mid 18th century onwards, and that this critical account as it unfolded through the 19th century serves as the prehistory of the modern environmental movement, dating from the later 20th century. As the leading commercial society in the 18th century and the first industrialised nation in the 19th, Britain offered a radical and socialist as well as conservative critiques of the effects of these developments. Some of these presented alternative visions of modernity, while others promoted a return to a more idyllic period in the past. We will examine such themes as returning to a more agrarian society in “back to the land” movements; the formation of socialist communities on the land; a more just and egalitarian reorganisation of industrialism; the reduction of population; and the end of “growth” as such. Writers to be considered include William Godwin, Thomas Spence, William Cobbett, T.R. Malthus, Thomas Carlyle, Robert Owen, John Stuart Mill, John Ruskin, Karl Marx, William Morris and Edward Carpenter. An additional session will be devoted to academic skills in writing and classroom presentation, and professional ethics.

This module provides students with a deep understanding of the genocide of the Jews of Europe by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II, the events that have come to be known as 'the Holocaust'. From the rise of Nazism to the aftermath of liberation, the module proceeds chronologically. With a focus on Nazi ideology and the 'racial state', the module examines Nazi thinking, pre-war antisemitic policies, the war in Poland and the creation of ghettos, the war in the Soviet Union and the 'Holocaust by bullets', and the creation of the death camps in occupied Poland. It then looks at how the murder of the Jews was carried out across Europe, with particular focus on Western Europe, the Balkans, Romania and Hungary, and considers the idea of Nazi imperialism and the Holocaust as a pan-European crime in which widespread collaboration occurred. It concludes by looking at resistance, the genocide of the Roma and Sinti, the 'death marches' and the liberation of the camps, the DP camps and the collection of the first postwar testimonies. Finally it explores 'the quest for explanation' by examining competing ways of situating the events of the Holocaust in history.

This module examines the ups and downs in American-Chinese relations during the Cold War. It examines how and why the United States and Communist China transformed their relationship, from hostile enemies in the 1950s and much of the 1960s to tacit allies by the 1970s. Events and issues to be covered include the direct and indirect confrontations between America and China over Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam; the roles of the Soviet Union, Britain and Japan in their changing relationships; and their divergent views on such issues as Third World revolutions, nuclear weapons and international trade. Thematically, the module considers how ideology, personality, domestic considerations, cultural stereotypes and alliance politics influenced the foreign policies of Washington and Beijing and the dynamics of Sino-American interactions. Students are expected to approach the subject not only from the American perspective but also from the Chinese viewpoint, by exploring both Western and (translated) Chinese primary sources, such as diplomatic documents, memoirs, public speeches and political cartoons. By placing Sino-American relations in the wider international and domestic contexts, this module will show how the two great powers were shaped by, and helped shape, the global Cold War. It will provide valuable historical lessons for managing Sino-American relations in the twenty-first century.

This module covers the crucial transitional period in which Christianity came to dominate the Mediterranean world, from the accession of the first Christian Roman emperor Constantine in 306 to the death of Augustine of Hippo in 430. The fundamental political, social and religious changes that took root during these dramatic years, which also witnessed the early Germanic invasions into the Roman empire, are brought to life by a broad spectrum of translated literary texts and material culture. Students will engage with a wide selection of influential writers: Eusebius of Caesarea (Constantine’s biographer), the last pagan emperor Julian ‘the Apostate’, the historian Ammianus Marcellinus, the orator and teacher Libanius, and the Church fathers Jerome (with his ascetic circle of female students) and Augustine (author of the Confessions and City of God). We will also examine other forms of evidence: the laws of the Theodosian Code, the inscriptions left by the Roman senatorial aristocracy, and an array of surviving examples of Late Roman art and architecture. The scope and diversity of these sources reflect the transformations of the period itself, and offer dissertation opportunities for students with interests ranging from religious and political history to gender studies or the Roman empire’s ‘Decline and Fall’.

From Henry VII to Charles II, this module will explore how the monarchy represented its authority and power in the midst of the great political and religious changes of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Monarchs sought to sustain and enhance their authority by representing themselves to their people through the media of building, print, art, material culture and speech.  Whilst Henry VIII and Elizabeth I might be considered masters of propaganda, what of the boy king Edward VI or the first queen Mary I? Might a failure of royal image explain Charles I’s deposition and the subsequent Republican interlude? Was the civil war a war of words and image as much as of physical combat? How did Charles II rebuild the monarchy’s image and authority after the Restoration? This module draws on a wide range of sources from architecture, portrait painting and royal pageantry to wood cuts, medals and coinage, prayers, royal proclamation, speeches, dress and jewellery to consider the nature of authority, the growth of the ‘public sphere’, and the transformation of monarchy. Deploying what we might now describe as 'spin', rulers worked actively as patrons and popularisers to present themselves to the best advantage and to generate support for themselves, their rule, and their policies. Given the range of topics and interdisciplinary sources, there is plenty of scope for students to frame and explore their own area of interest across this two-hundred-year period.

‘At the height of the imperial age church people liked to argue that religion and the British empire were inseparable – that the visible, commercial and political empire was woven into the fabric of another, invisible country – a spiritual empire.’ [Hilary M Carey, Empires of Religion]. This module will critically interrogate that assertion, asking and answering the question of how far empire was interested in the spiritual mission, and how far missionaries can be considered agents of imperialism. In so doing it will interact with issues of how we define imperialism, how useful the idea of cultural imperialism can be to the modern historian, and how we might talk meaningfully about ‘the colonising project’. Students will be introduced to the history of British cultural engagement and encounter with indigenous peoples within and outside of the empire; will analyse and discuss the socio-economic, cultural and religious impact of Christian mission in the ‘age of expansion’; and will tease out issues of cultural encounters, indigenous agency and resistance, race, racism and cultural chauvinism, and the impact of mission literature and experience on the British public’s own imaginative engagement with non-western peoples. Students will emerge with a complex understanding of colonialism, in all its variegated forms, and how it has shaped (and continues to shape) the modern world.

This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the role that migration has played in British life since the nineteenth century, with particular focus on the evolution of identities and notions of citizenship. It looks historically at the arrival, reception and impact of migrants – such as the Irish, Jewish and people from different parts of Britain’s global empire - in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, before focusing on the experiences of those migrant groups that arrived after World War II and the various ways in which successive governments have sought to manage their presence in Britain. From immigration legislation, to race riots, from multiculturalism to Islamaphobia, this module engages with key aspects of modern British life and the various factors, historical as well as contemporary, that have shaped them. 

Terrorism has become one of the most pervasive and defining features of the second half of the 20th and now 21st Century. Indeed, terrorism has transcended time and space and has been employed across a range of historic and geographic contexts by a range of actors, from lone-individuals to anti-colonial revolutionary organisations, and from fundamentalist religious groups to liberal democratic states. The module aims to examine the underlying reasons for the ascendancy of this form of political violence and the immense challenges it has posed to state and society throughout this period. The module adopts a comparative thematic approach examining various manifestations of terrorism including: anti-colonial terror in the post WWII period; the pervasive Red Terror’ of the 1970s; terrorism employed by ethno-nationalist and separatist groups; religious terrorism in various traditions; the state’s employment of terrorism; new-age terrorism; and of course the latest incarnation – al-Qaeda and the global Jihadists. This comparative approach employs various case studies to examine ubiquitous themes including power, identity, politics, society, the state and religion, all vis-a-vis terrorism, and deploys a diverse range of primary source material (both textual and audio-visual) to interrogate these themes.

In the 1850s photography was established in Britain – and altered how Britons saw themselves forever. This module looks at the relationship between images, society and culture, from the arrival of the camera to cinema and early TV. From the work of art photographers Lewis Carroll and Julia Margaret Cameron to camera-wielding asylum doctors and ‘spirit photographers’ who believed they could portray the dead, photography became a core part of Victorian culture. Photography transformed understandings of place – and changed the way the British saw the Empire. The novelty of the photographic technologies, like the stereograph, often fascinated and delighted. We will also look at the role of photography in everyday life – from the staid Victorian family portrait to contemporary scandals over pornography. Term two will focus on watching and reading films – and how this new medium represented twentieth-century Britain. Class, race and gender were reconfigured on the silver screen. We will explore the growth of film culture in the 1930s, the impact of World War Two on film and Postwar British film culture including 1940s costume drama and New Wave Cinema in the 1960s. We will finish with the arrival of early TV and a Coronation Street case study. Students will look at a wide range of visual sources including newly digitised collections of photography (e.g. The Wellcome, Imperial War Museum, Frith Collections) and independent research is strongly encouraged. Each term begins with an ‘orientation’ session introducing methods and techniques for film and image interpretation. 

This module aims to examine the history of Chinese migration in both an internal and external context, engage with the issue of frontiers, and understand the long-term impact of historic migration on China’s situation, still resonant today. The module explores how Chinese human mobility responded to and reflected changes in politics, economics, and culture during the period, and how the lives of Chinese migrants in foreign countries reflected China’s foreign relationships. The focus on frontiers brings in a geopolitical dimension, and provides a broader context in which to examine not only China’s interactions with other nations in the process of globalization, but also how this in turn impacted the course of Chinese migration. This module provides an in-depth study of the relevant issues by tracing the steps of migrants from 1800 to the 1960s across broad geographical boundaries, from Northern China to Taiwan and Hong Kong, and from China to United States and United Kingdom, impacted by key policies of the administrations from Qing imperial government through to the Communist era. Students who have already completed a previous Chinese history module are particularly encouraged to take this module as it not only provides a new level of challenge but also goes deeper into topics previously explored. The module provides a wide range of dissertation topics, supported by is a large body of source material in English, accessible both online and within the London area.

This module provides a detailed and intensive overview of the history of African American Islam. It focuses primarily on the development of three African American Muslim communities in the twentieth century including the Nation of Islam and the Imam W.D. Mohammed community.  The module examines the formative years of the Nation of Islam, the Islamic themes in Elijah Muhammad’s leadership and the efforts that other Muslim communities made to challenge his legitimacy as a Muslim leader. The module focuses largely on Elijah Muhammad’s national minister, Malcolm X. It examines Malcolm’s conversion, ministry, politics and debates surrounding his assassination. The module assesses the NOI’s continued growth after 1965 and the splintering of the community in 1975 into orthodox and unorthodox factions. The module examines the rise of Malcolmology in the 1990s and popular culture. The module will also introduce students to recent studies that explore the work of women in the original NOI and the organization’s relationship with Muslim communities in and beyond the US. The second half of the module focuses on the resurrected NOI. Topics within this half of the module will include a detailed examination of the Million Man March in 1995, Louis Farrakhan’s leadership, racial politics, the Justice or Else March and the NOI’s work with Black Lives Matter, and interfaith outreach.

This module will examine the development of atomic weaponry and its effects on Western society during the twentieth century. The A- and H-Bombs are arguably to the most influential technological developments of the last century, affecting geopolitics, military strategy, and the shape of post-1945 society, and well as putting in the hand of a few the power to render the Earth uninhabitable. This had a profound effect on politics and society. The emphasis will be more on the way that geopolitics shaped the creation and use of "the Bomb," rather than the scientific history of its development However, other perspectives on how technology shaped society will be considered, as with the writings of H G Wells or using modern reinterpretations of events, such as Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen or the BBC’s Hiroshima. Term one concentrates on how "the Genie got out of the bottle," while term two will deal with the effects on World politics and Western society of "the Bomb." The focus of the module will be predominantly on the United States and Britain, but in the context of post-1945 Super Power conflict, and arms proliferation, with France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and South Africa becoming atomic, if not nuclear, weapon states. The main historical material considered will be from the 1930s through to the 1970s.

The module provides students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of South Asia as the subcontinent made its transition from colonial rule to independence during the first half of the twentieth century. By exploring the historical context of a pivotal moment, namely the partitioning of the subcontinent that accompanied independence in 1947, students explore the complex processes involved in both the rise of anti-imperial nationalist movements and the decline of (British) imperial power. The eventual transfer of power, albeit to two separate states - India and Pakistan - represents one of the first instances of decolonization in the British Empire, and this proved to be a fraught and violent process with long-lasting repercussions for both South Asia as region and wider global history. Hence, the module merges political history with social, cultural and religious history - it looks at change and continuity from a top-down perspective as well as interrogating it from below. This approach allows students to understand the high-level political negotiations that produced independence as well as to engage with the lived and often painful personal experiences of partition. Major themes include the rise of non-violent and violent Indian anti-colonial movements; ethnic and religious representation in Indian politics; British imperial strategies; the relationship between religion and nationalism; the impact of world war; migration and Partition violence (that was often gendered); and the challenges that both states faced when it came to creating new citizens.

In 1914 the French poet Charles Peguy wrote that the world had changed more since he started going to school in the 1880s than during the previous two millennia. Rapid urbanisation, industrialisation, the rise of mass politics and the decline of the established religions all ensured Europe was in a state of political and social flux during the fin de siècle. Established hierarchies and authorities - the partriarchal authority of the father, the sovereignty of emperors, kings and parliaments, the self-confident economic rule of the bourgeoisie, the spiritual leadership of the European churches - were being challenged by the rise of new ideologies of liberation: secularism, occultism, nationalism, anarchism, socialism, feminism. The module will adopt a thematic approach to explore a range of topics through which Europeans endeavoured to make sense of, and navigate a path through, this changing world. Visions of change were shot through with ambivalence. Optimism about the creative powers of the market and faith in technological, material and political progress were undercut with darker apprehensions of disorder, decline, and decay. Politicians, journalists, artists, scientists and writers fiercely debated ideas of race, class and gender and wove a richly varied imaginative tapestry that reflected on the unstable world around them. Their conflicting prescriptions for political, social and moral reconstruction showed that the very shape of the modern world was "up for grabs".

 “At last I can live like a human being!” For many ancient Romans, these words from the Emperor Nero after the completion of his vast Golden House in Rome were evidence of his megalomania. Throughout Roman literature, stories and descriptions such as this regarding the Roman domestic realm abound. Whether emphasising a residence’s opulence, its productivity or the depraved life led by those inside, these discussions are crucial for understanding how the domestic sphere was used to construct notions of belonging and status in the Roman world. As such, they present key evidence for investigation in this module. In addition to studying how the home was represented in texts, such as the letters of Cicero and Pliny the Younger, the poetry of Horace and the architectural treatise of Vitruvius, we will also examine the archaeological remains of residences. By exploring the houses of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the multiple-occupancy apartments at Ostia and Rome, and Imperial Palaces such as Nero’s infamous Domus Aurea, Caligula’s pleasure boats on Lake Nemi and Hadrian’s sprawling villa at Tivoli, we will examine how and why owners sought to control the bodily experience of visitors to their homes, including the sounds, smells and sights to be had. The diversity of these sources highlights the evolution of the Roman home and its role as a vehicle for expressing social and political values, giving dissertation opportunities to students with interests ranging from social, cultural or political history to art and archaeological studies from across Rome’s history and beyond.

The American Civil War was the defining moment in the history of the United States. The American populace, north and south, white and black, found themselves grappling with two issues – what would be the nature of the political union that formed the backbone of the American nation state, and what would be the status of African Americans within that nation. Ostensibly, these matters were resolved as the bloody conflict resulted in the abolition of slavery and the settling of political debates about the relationship between states and the federal government. But were these contentious issues of politics and race truly resolved? America’s post-Civil War history certainly suggests not. Moreover, a cursory glance at modern America points to a continued schismatic discourse about the power of the federal government and the issue of race. Put simply, if one is to understand the nation’s more recent history and politics they must get to grips with the Civil War, the crucible in which the modern American nation was forged. This module will take a chronological approach to the period from 1848 to 1877. Starting with the sectional divisions over slavery in the 1850s and ending with the tumultuous conclusion of the Reconstruction period, this module will explore the key causes, consequences, events, personalities, interpretations and legacies of the American Civil War. It approaches these important questions and themes from a range of historical standpoints, including military, social, political and cultural perspectives.

 ‘God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.’ When Friedrich Nietzsche published these words in 1882, religion in Europe seemed to be a force in retreat. Nietzsche recognised that humans were responsible for this – ‘we have killed him’ – but what was the role of ideas in Europe’s gradual secularisation? This module offers students an opportunity to engage with both unfamiliar and well-known thinkers of the modern era – including Rousseau, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche and Freud – as they confronted some of the fundamental questions of human existence. Does man need God? Is religion a revealed truth or a human invention? Did the history recounted in the Bible ever take place? What distinguished European ‘religions’ from ancient ‘myths’ and New World’s ‘pagans’? How can we account for the apparent decline of religious belief, and what has taken its place? We will explore how European thinkers responded to broader developments in their societies, from the encounter with non-Western cultures to the rise of experimental science. In the final weeks, we will reach the important point at the beginning of the twentieth century when the founders of modern sociology (Durkheim and Weber) and psychology (Freud) came up with radical new ideas about the role of religions, and why their own culture – that of the modern West – seemed to be leaving them behind. Although our timeframe is relatively broad, our thematic focus is tight. Throughout the module, we will engage closely and persistently with major primary texts of European thought, all available in English, which also furnish the materials for a range of dissertation questions.

 Europe, as an “ideal” and imagined landscape, is a very old concept. Its stories have crossed the long history of humanity, including emperors and ordinary people, revolutions and nation-building, powers and paintings, and legends and tales. What often impressed past observers was the deep richness and brightness of these European cultures, their diversity and yet also their many common values. It was against this background, after the interwar years, that European countries started a process of peaceful integration, establishing the Council of Europe and, above all, the European Union. This module focuses on the journey towards the unification of many European lands, exploring how this united Europe was built, and especially how it has been perceived by political movements, politicians, and scholars both in previous decades and in the present. Discussion will centre around the interactions between geographical spaces, cultures, historical frames, and intellectual conceptions. Can we talk about a European identity? How is the EU seen by contemporary observers? Why has this community of Europeans been built? How is it also a contested space? From exploring such questions, students will gain a better understanding of European history, policies, values, and society, and therefore a better understanding of the world in which we live in today.

The century from about 1050 to 1150 was one of profound upheaval and dynamic change in Europe. Old states were strengthened and new ones founded under increasingly centralized power; demographic growth resulted in the expansion of towns and new rural settlements, while relative peace brought by strong government resulted in unparalleled opportunities for the emergence of new cultural forms. At the centre of all these changes was the Church, both as an institution and as the director of Christian life, and at the heart of the Christian life lay monasticism. From its beginning in the deserts of Egypt, Palestine and Syria, monasticism had always represented the striving toward human perfection. But by c.1050, many Europeans found the contemporary forms of religious life far from perfect. The needs of society had made monasteries not only refuges from the world but vital components in the operations of that world. Monasteries were part of the system of land ownership, and thus of local power. But they differed from other political agencies in one respect: they were also mediators of divine power. A ‘revolution’ in religious life occurred between c.1080 and 1150 because many came to understand these two functions as incompatible. But how religious life should be led – through personal austerity or in strictly regulated communities, in poverty or in comfort, with sexes mixed or kept apart – became a battleground among reformers. We will look at the varied hopes and ideals of reformers, and the lengths to which they went to realise them.

Genocide is far from being an exceptional or infrequent event: by some counts, there have been over 50 genocides since 1945. This module seeks to understand the common roots of this recurrent phenomenon by making connections between a range of very different case studies, from colonial genocides in North America and Australia through to more recent cases in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur. We will examine the causes of these genocides – from international and domestic factors, through to the reasons individuals chose to kill – and debate the role that ideology, war, competition for resources, and the nation-state system played in each, as well as engaging with issues of victimhood, loss, and living together again in the aftermath. These case studies and themes will be explored in relation to developments in the historiography of genocide, and anchored in a wide range of primary documentation – from perpetrator accounts, trial transcripts and victim testimony, through to photographs, forensic evidence and mapping technologies.

For too long, the history of the Holocaust has been dominated by perpetrator-led studies that advance its unfolding through the lens provided by the political scientist, Raul Hilberg, in his still-influential book, 'The Destruction of the European Jews' (1961). Hilberg’s paradigmatic model, built on long consultation with Nazi documents presented at the Nuremberg trial of 1945-46, suggested that the ‘Final Solution’ (the Nazi euphemism for destruction) unfolded over four stages: identification, expropriation, concentration and annihilation. This model continues to sustain scholarship though it completely neglected the victims’ perspectives. ‘The Holocaust Witness’ is a counter to the narrative limitations of that model. This interdisciplinary module explores advances a witness-centred history of the Holocaust through examining case studies of emigration, insurgencies in ghettos, cultural resistance, the difficult rebuilding of life and communities in the postwar period, and the impact of digital technologies on mediations of survivor-hood. It takes students through the emergence of the Holocaust witness as a cultural and juridical category in the twentieth century via a range of first person, collective and curated, testimonial, visual and oral documents.

Inverts, deviants, androgynes, tribades, sodomites, pansies, sapphists, sissies, tomboys, brown hatters, dykes, perverts: queers. Throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Britain these, and many other such terms have been employed to identify and codify queer sexual practices and identities. Beginning with the emergence of homosexuality as a defined modern identity in the late nineteenth century, this module will go on to explore how queer identities were constructed and contested, described and debated in both mainstream culture and in the queer subcultures that emerged and took shape, laying the foundations for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) identities as we understand them today. We will consider how queerness captured the fascination of the medical profession, the legal system, the media and the general public. Moreover, we will investigate the interaction between these dominant discourses and queer people themselves, examining how queer people lived and loved in times of turbulence, from the interventions of sexologists, to criminalisation, to same-sex desire in times of war, to the creation of modern queer communities. Along the way we will also ask questions about how to research queer history. This module will be multi-disciplinary, engaging with a diverse range of primary source material (including textual and audio-visual) and in particular will make use of oral history sources as a way of accessing the lived experience of queer people.

New experiences of leisure assumed rapid social and cultural ascendency in Britain in the twentieth century. Radio and cinema, for example, propelled audiences towards the reinvention of recreation and entertainment. Listening to music, dancing, drinking and eating, shopping, and playing and watching sport; all were hugely popular. Times and spaces of leisure were increasingly significant and distinct in British everyday life. Central to the success and influence of many types of leisure was their urban setting, for it was in cities and towns that recreation flourished at its most varied and accessible. Leisure and popular culture had a marked influence on how many individuals (re)created, imagined and lived out their identities. Class, gender, sexuality, race, age and nationality were all of central importance. Other key themes include: modernity and leisure; time and leisure; space and leisure; the impact of technologies; the role of the state; the impact of war; the influence of Americanisation; and the influence of nation, region and locality. Alongside engaging secondary literatures, this module explores an illuminating range of primary sources, including: textual sources such as social surveys, government papers, autobiographies and novels; visual sources such as photographs and films; and audio sources including oral histories and songs. Together with rich archival collections (nearby in London and across the country), these sources offer students exciting opportunities for dissertation research.

Intercollegiate Courses

Please see the link here for intercollegiate courses available to students from other colleges within the University of London network.

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