Early Modern Europe in Global Context: Encounters, Exchanges, and Exploitation

The details
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
10 April 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA R000 European Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA R001 European Studies,
BA R002 European Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA R008 European Studies (Including Foundation Year),
BA R9R1 European Studies with French,
BA R9R8 European Studies with French (Including Foundation Year),
BA R9R2 European Studies with German,
BA R9R6 European Studies with German (Including Foundation Year),
BA R9R3 European Studies with Italian,
BA R9R7 European Studies with Italian (Including Foundation Year),
BA V100 History,
BA V101 History (Including Year Abroad),
BA V102 History (Including Foundation Year),
BA V103 History (Including Placement Year),
MHISV199 History,
MHISZV98 History (Including Placement Year),
MHISZV99 History (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

This module focuses on some of the most important of the interactions which European peoples had with the other peoples of the globe, exploring when, why and how they happened, and with what consequences (cultural, environmental, material, political, and economic) for the people and places involved.

The module will foreground the power dynamics of these interactions and incorporate non-European as well as European perspectives on them.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To help students understand:

    • The most important interactions between European and non-European peoples during the early modern period, their causes and consequences.

    • The power dynamics of these interactions for Europeans and non-Europeans.

    • How categories such as gender, race, and religion shaped people’s experiences of these interactions.

    • How and why European and non-European perspectives on these interactions varied.

    • Some of the key historical sources about these interactions, and how to read them effectively.

Module learning outcomes

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

  1. Be able to critically examine secondary sources.

  2. Be able to engage critically with relevant historiographies.

  3. Develop skills of communicating verbally in seminar discussions and in written assessments.

  4. Develop a more critical perspective on early modern interactions between Europeans and non-Europeans and their consequences.

  5. Consider what factors shape people’s experiences of historical events and processes.

Module information

The early modern period (c.1450-c.1750) saw a profound increase in the number and type of interactions which European peoples had with the other peoples of the globe, resulting in a significant change in transnational movements of people, ideas, diseases, and things. These processes of interaction constituted a decisive turning-point in global and European history and continue to shape the world we live in today.

Indicative syllabus

  • Material context, material exchanges.

  • The Chinese/European porcelain trade.

  • The 'Columbian Exchange' (I): Plants, foodstuffs, animals.

  • The environmental impact of Spanish sheep-farming on Central Mexico.

  • The Columbian Exchange (II): Disease.

  • The impact of small-pox.

  • Religions and the supernatural.

  • Missionary journeys and identities OR the Salem witch-trials.

  • Religious conflict.

  • The eradication of Christianity in Japan.

  • European colonial empires (I).

  • The Americas.

  • European colonial empires (II).

  • Asia and Africa.

  • Gender and the social 'order' in the early modern world.

  • Malintzin and Pocahontas OR missionaries and masculinities.

  • Making sense of encounters.

  • Non-European perceptions of their encounters with Europeans.

  • Conclusion: Europe and the wider world by the 18th century.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 50-minute lecture per week.
  • One 50-minute seminar per week.

The lectures will cover big themes which will be explored through selected case-studies in seminars.
All module information will be available via Moodle; seminar readings will be digitised and available on Talis.


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   Secondary Source Analysis (1000 words)    35% 
Coursework   Essay (2000 words)    65% 

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
Dr Thomas Freeman, email:
History UG Administrators:



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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