Undergraduate Teaching

Colonial and non-western history is always popular among undergraduate students here at Kent, and the CHC offers a significant range of modules in the field from Stage 1 survey courses through to final year Special Subjects. Teaching in this field gives students an opportunity to learn about new places and approaches, different communities and power structures, and the legacies of colonialism in the modern world. We are proud of the range of teaching we offer, and the diversity of approaches reflected in our teaching team. Global History of Empires I & II (1500-1960) offer first-year students a significant introduction to the field of European imperial history. These survey courses offer a varied menu of colonial history, from the early modern context of Ottoman and Portuguese exploration and expansion, through French, Belgian and British imperialism, to decolonisation and the Cold War. These courses are a great jumping-off point for more in-depth teaching at Stages 2 & 3, and have proved to be extremely popular among in-coming stage one students.

The British Empire: Sunrise to Sunset is an introductory course on the history of the British Empire. It seeks to explore a cultural history of modern British imperialism from American independence through to decolonisation, and covers topics such as ‘Identity and Empire’, ‘Violence and Colonial Rule’ and ‘Discourses of Difference’. The intention is to try and understand European imperialism on its own terms, to interrogate the cultural and conceptual discourses that underpinned its existence, and to reflect upon the many ways in which the history of European empire has shaped the modern world in which we live today.

African History since 1800 is a survey course taught by Giacomo Macola at both stage 2 and 3 levels which introduces students to the key processes and dynamics of sub-Saharan African history during the past two centuries. In their study of the pre-colonial period, students will familiarize themselves with the changing nature of African slavery and the nineteenth-century reconstruction of political authority in the face of economic, environmental and military pressures. The colonial period forms the second section of the course. Here, students will gain an understanding of the modalities of the colonial conquest, the creation and operation of colonial economies and the socio-cultural engineering brought about by European rule. The study of the colonial period will end with an analysis of African nationalisms and decolonisation. In the final part of the course, students will get to grips with the numerous challenges faced by independent African nations.

The Repatriation of the Freed Captives. The third panel from ‘Rising Up’ – Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College

Africa and Africans in the Atlantic world gives students an insight into Atlantic history through the biographies and life stories of Africans who explored, traded, travelled and lived around the Atlantic in the 19th century. The course highlights the role of Africans in creating the Atlantic world, and uncovers unusual and exciting cross-oceanic networks and connections.

Empires of Religion? Thinking with missionaries in the age of empire, 1790-1914. This final-year special subject explores the role of the evangelical missionary movement in the history of British colonialism. Its essential question is whether missionaries were implicit an/or explicit agents of empire, and as such interacts with issues of how we define imperialism, how useful the idea of cultural imperialism can be to the modern historian, and how we might talk meaningfully about ‘the colonising project’. Students use in-depth analysis of an extensive range of primary sources to critically interrogate the socio-economic, cultural and religious impact of Christian mission in the ‘age of expansion’, in order to assess their impact and legacy in the modern word.

Staff members at the CHC also supervise numerous undergraduate dissertations in the field of imperial and non-western history, and offer a Dissertation Prize to outstanding work in this field.


MA in Imperial and Colonial history

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We are delighted to announce the launch of a new Master’s programme in Imperial History here at the university of Kent.

This brand new programme examines key themes and regions in the making of world history from the 18th century to the present day.

Imperial history is a rapidly growing and innovative field of historical research, which offers you the opportunity to explore the origins, workings and legacies of empires. By critically engaging with a range of theoretical and empirical literatures, as well as conducting original research, you use historical data to tackle momentous questions relating to violence, development and global inequality.

Led by five specialists in the School of History, the programme takes a broad interdisciplinary approach which also encompasses renowned academics from other departments. The team offers particular expertise in African political history, the history of military technology and conflict, global histories of religion and the newly-emerging field of children and childhoods. You also have the opportunity to participate in the activities of the Centre for the History of Colonialisms.

This programme offers an ideal launching pad for students who envisage careers with an international dimension or plan to embark on doctoral work.


MA Res & PhD Students

The Centre has numerous Masters by Research and PhD students who contribute to our research community.

John Cocking started his PhD on higher education in colonial and postcolonial Malaya in January 2015. He is interested in exploring the role of colonialism in the evolution of higher education in modern-day Malaysia, and seeks to use higher education as a lens through which to explore the transition from colonial state to postcolonial nation.

Jessica Vincent is currently completing a master’s dissertation on the relationships between Congo Free State agents and Nsapu-Nsapu militias in the Kasai in the late 1890s and early 1900s.

Peter Nicholls – the holder of an AHRC/CHASE scholarship – has recently begun a PhD on the role of the Seychelles in the slave trade of the Western Indian Ocean between the eighteenth and the twentieth century.

John Kegel – AHRC/CHASE grant-holder whose PhD research focuses on the Rwandan civil war of the early 1990s.