Short Period: The Asia-Pacific in the 19th Century (V1480)

15 credits, Level 5

Autumn teaching

This module surveys the emergence of the Asia-Pacific. We explore the long 19th century, from Europe’s Pacific voyages of ‘discovery’ culminating in the 1790s to Asia’s ‘Wilsonian moment’ of the 1920s.

It starts at a critical moment in this dynamic region’s history. Encounters with Europeans presented its various communities – forged through Indo-Pacific trade and commerce, religion and culture, politics and war – with previously unimaginable opportunities and challenges. Topics include:

  • Malay-Arab-Chinese relations
  • European imperialism in Asia
  • The Opium Wars
  • Imperial China and the Meiji Restoration
  • Settler colonialism in the Antipodes
  • America’s Pacific empire
  • Asian migration and Yellow Peril
  • Asian political thought
  • the rise of Japanese fascism.

The module concludes with the rise of a revolutionary ‘Asian underground’ and pan-Asian movements in the early 20th century. Throughout, we seek to understand how people began to think of themselves as both ‘Asian’ and ‘modern’ while taking back and transforming the world around them.


50%: Lecture
50%: Seminar


100%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 128 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2024/25. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: