University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Lifelong Learning (HCA)

Undergraduate Course: From Khartoum to Sarajevo: Britain and the British Empire from 1870 to 1914 (LLLE07037)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course explores Britain and its empire at the height of its power, also assessing the challenges it was facing: growing unrest in Britain and Ireland, a controversial war in Africa, and signs of emerging opposition to the British Raj in India.
Course description The following syllabus is indicative and may change slightly from year to year depending on exhibitions, available primary sources etc.

1 Introduction and Overview

2 'Rule Britannia!' A short history of the British Empire

3 'To have and have not': rich and poor in late Victorian Britain

4 'Her Majesty's Government?': the Crown, Parliament and the political scene in late Victorian Britain

5 'Gladstone versus Disraeli': differing approaches to challenges at home and abroad

6 'Scramble for Africa': Imperial horizons from the Berlin Conference to the Boer War, 1878 to 1902

7 'Pomp and Circumstance': British attitudes toward the British Empire, 1880 to 1914

8 'A Most Superior Person': George Curzon and the challenges to the British Raj in India, 1899 to 1914

9 'Socialists, Suffragettes and Nationalists': political and social unrest in Britain and Ireland, 1900 to 1914

10 'Splendid Isolation' no more: changing foreign policy and the road to the Great War, 1900 to 1914

At the end of the nineteenth century the British Empire covered roughly a quarter of the earth's surface. It was the biggest empire that the world had ever known. Backed by a navy that was by the far the largest in the world, and with an economy that remained one of the most advanced and productive, Britain appeared invincible. Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee of 1897 was used as a showcase both for the Empire and for Britain's status as the greatest world power of the day.

However all was not as it seemed. The British economy was facing serious challenges from abroad, Germany and the United States in particular. There was growing labour unrest at home, and the nationalist movement in Ireland was becoming increasingly restive. As the new century began there were also the first signs of serious dissent in India, the so-called 'jewel in the crown' of the Empire. The Boer War of 1898 to 1902 did not provide the easy victories the British public had expected, and the brutalities inflicted on civilians caught up in that conflict provoked widespread condemnation.

This course will examine the serious challenges that Britain faced, both home and overseas, during a period that is often portrayed as something of a golden age for Britain and the British Empire.

The British Empire, both during its heyday and in its decline, has an enduring appeal for historians and the wider public. Books about the Empire, and about Britain during its rise and fall as a world power, such as Niall Ferguson's Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World (2003), have become best sellers. In recent years there have also been numerous television documentaries dealing with Empire related themes. This area would be a valuable and popular addition to the topics covered in the COL history syllabus.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs 0
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  18
Course Start Lifelong Learning - Session 1
Course Start Date 27/09/2016
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 78 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One, 2,000-word essay to be submitted after the end of the course.
Formative exercise of a practice essay submitted mid-way through the course (non-compulsory).
Feedback Students will receive written feedback for their formative assessment practice essay, submitted mid-way through the session. They may discuss this with the tutor; students may contact the tutor for an informal discussion of progress at any time in the session. Students will receive detailed written feedback on their assessed work submitted after the end of the course.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the history of Britain and the British Empire in the period, including evolving attitudes toward the Empire within Britain itself.
  2. Demonstrate through oral contribution in classes, and through the assessment where applicable, an ability to analyse the primary sources, and to handle critically the secondary sources.
  3. Demonstrate, through oral contribution in classes, and through the assessment where applicable, an ability to conduct research and to structure ideas.
  4. Demonstrate, through oral contribution in classes and through the assessment where applicable, an ability to organize their own learning and to manage their workload.
Reading List

1. Niall Ferguson, 2003. Empire, How Britain Made the Modern World. London: Penguin (chapters 4 and 5).
2. A. N. Wilson, 2002. The Victorians. London: Hutchison (parts IV to VI).


1. George Dangerfield, 1935. The Strange Death of Liberal England. 1997 edition. London: Serif.
2. John Darwin, 2009. The Empire Project, The Rise and Fall of the British World-System, 1830-1970. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (chapters 2 to 7).
3. Roy Hattersley, 2004. The Edwardians. London: Little, Brown.
4. Ronald Hyam, 1976. Britain¿s Imperial Century, 1815-1914. A Study of Empire and Expansion. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan (chapters 3 and 4).
5. Denis Judd, 1996. Empire. 2001 edition. London: Harper Collins (chapters 11, 12, 15, 17, 19).
6. Jan Morris, 1968. Pax Britannica, the Climax of an Empire. 2012 edition. London: Faber and Faber (chapters 1 and 2).
7. Robert Rhodes James, 1976, The British Revolution, British Politics 1880-1939, Volume One: From Gladstone to Asquith, 1880 to 1914. London: Hamish Hamilton.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Critical thinking.
Handling and analysis of sources.
Oral discussion.
Time management.
Special Arrangements N/A
Study Abroad N/A
KeywordsBritish empire
Course organiserDr Sally Crumplin
Course secretaryMiss Zofia Guertin
Tel: (0131 6)51 1855
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information
© Copyright 2016 The University of Edinburgh - 3 February 2017 4:39 am