Rethinking Imperialism (950M1)

30 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Spring teaching

This module examines the historical practices and theoretical debates on imperialism. You set out the problems and issues raised in the current revival of the term imperialism in relation to contemporary world politics. You discuss classical conceptions of imperialism drawing on Marx, Weber, Schumpeter, Lenin, Luxemburg, Kautsky, etc whose writings informed the evolution, past and present, of the debate. This establishes the fundamental theoretical parameters of the topic. We study different practices of imperialism in historical context from the early modern colonial empires, via British free trade imperialism, to fascist imperial autarchy. Each session combines historical survey readings with influential contemporaneous and contemporary interpretations of the period we study. This will establish the intellectual resources, empirical and theoretical, towards an assessment of the current debates and forms of neo-imperialism, notably in relation to US policy. What can the history of imperialism and its rich theoretical discourse teach us about the causes, nature, and consequences of neo-imperialism in current world politics?


100%: Practical (Workshop)


100%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 267 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.