Understanding Empire: Imperialism and the Modern World SOCIO4097

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course introduces students to a range of long-standing and still contentious debates, taking place both within the social sciences and more publicly, over the nature and effects of modern imperialism. It does so through consideration of a series of specific historical examples and focuses on specific aspects of imperial relationships and how imperialism shaped understandings around gender and 'race'.


10 one-hour lectures and 10 one-hour seminars.

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements

Entry to Honours Sociology requires a grade point average of 12 (Grade C) over Sociology 2A and Sociology 2B as a first attempt.

Excluded Courses

Imperialism: Classical Analyses and Contemporary Directions





One 4,000 word essay chosen from a selection of questions.

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The course forms part of the Subject's Honours' programme and its aims embody the intentions of that programme. The main aim of the course is to help you develop an understanding of the significance of imperialism in shaping the modern world. In order to do this, the course introduces you to a range of debates over the causes, consequences and possible development of imperialism in the modern world. You will be encouraged to engage in a critical evaluation of the various claims advanced in accounts of these developments on the basis of an examination of specific historical instances. In this respect, the course asks you to think through the challenges involved in conceptualizing the cultural, economic and political parameters of empire.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ demonstrate that they have developed a historical understanding of the role played by processes of colonization, and of formal and informal imperialism in the development of the modern world;

■ demonstrate that they have learned to distinguish between competing explanations of the causes and consequences of these processes;

■ arrive an informed judgment about key questions as regards the possible key factors involved in, and effects of empire.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.