Resisting Empire

The details
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
15 September 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

At the heart of the module will be a set of case studies ranging from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, with examples from the Americas, Asia, and Africa. We will pose three basic questions to each case.

The module will seek to understand the nature of imperial domination in each region and period, the historically specific structures and policies, as well as the constant push and pull that gave shape to ordinary lives. Second, we will examine the resistance movements, their ideas, goals, and methods. Finally, we will try to understand the reasons for the success or failure of each movement

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To familiarize students with the concept of resistance and its various modes.

  • To provide students with an understanding of the ways in which resistance shaped imperial project itself.

  • To introduce students to the methods and approaches employed by scholars in reading sources normally produced from the metropolitan perspective.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Have an awareness of key definitions and debates concerning the nature of colonial domination and resistance.

  2. Be able to identify and interpret a number of resistance movements throughout history, and be able to situate them within their specific historical contexts.

  3. Be familiar with the theoretical and methodological problems of studying resistance in a European-dominated archive.

  4. Have gained key discipline-specific skills in preparation for the final year research project.

Module information

The story of the European empires is all too familiar: beginning in the early fifteenth century, when Portugual began sending vessels down the African coast, Europeans gradually came to dominate much of the world, a situation that lasted into the second half of the twentieth century.

But that story is not the focus of this module. Instead, we will examine the many ways in which people across the globe opposed European imperialism, with special attention to the campaigns, both violent and non-violent, that contested and ultimately helped to alter the old world order. We will see that although many of these movements were crushed, European empires were far from invincible and always faced opposition.

Introductory reading

  • James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak (1985).

  • James C. Scott, Domination and the Art of Resistance (1990).

  • Eric Hobsbawm, Primitive Rebels (1959).

  • Antoinette Burton, The Trouble with Empire (2015).

  • Heather Streets and Trevor Getz, Empires and Colonies in the Modern World: A Global Perspective (2016).

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • Lectures.
  • Seminars.


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Formative secondary source analysis (500 words)    0% 
Coursework   Primary source analysis (1000 words)    35% 
Coursework   Essay (2000 words)    60% 
Practical   Seminar participation    5% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Mr Liam Redfern, email:
History UG Administrators:



External examiner

Dr Ingeborg Dornan
Brunel University London
Reader in History
Available via Moodle
Of 30 hours, 30 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


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