HST6606: The World in Connection: Themes in Global History

Imperial Federation, Map of the World Showing the Extent of the British Empire in 1886

30 credits (Semester: Autumn)

Module Leader 2019-20: Dr Siobhan Lambert-Hurley

Module Summary

This core module introduces students to some of the most important and innovative themes, debates and controversies relating to global history and its linked fields of imperial, international, transnational, transregional and world history. Through discursive seminars students will acquire an informed understanding of global forces, structures and processes that have shaped and reshaped our world, including empires, trade, technology, religion, decolonisation, migration, war, diplomacy, humanitarianism, disease and the environment. Students will thus be enabled to explore connections, comparisons and exchanges across broad geographical and chronological terrain, while also considering relationships between the global, regional and local.

Module aims

This unit aims to:

  1. Introduce students to key themes in the historiography of global history as it relates to linked fields of imperial, international, transnational, transregional and world history;
  2. Decentre Eurocentric or Western-centric approaches by integrating Asian, African and Latin American perspectives into a global understanding of the early modern and modern world;
  3. Examine such topics as: world systems before 1800; the creation of an Atlantic world; the ‘great divergence’ of the eighteenth century; imperialism and power; networks of trade; the global circulation of labour; decolonisation; travel, migration and diaspora; humanitarianism, development and human rights; transnational ideologies and international organisations; consumption and demography in global perspective; global shifts in religion; communication, technology and infrastructure; nature, disease and the environment; and globalisation;
  4. Familiarise students with the varieties of focus, methods and analytical scope in the dynamic field of global history, working from examples of historical writing that demonstrate how different historians explore their material and write about the past;
  5. Explore historians’ use of concepts and categories, as well as how individual approaches and sources shape the subject matter of global history;
  6. Inform students’ understanding in their choice of an independent research topic and enhance their ability to consider methodological problems inherent to their chosen area of specialism.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module you will be able to demonstrate an ability to:

  1. Understand crucial themes and trends relating to global history, particularly in terms of interrelationships between different regions and localities and the role of global structures and processes in shaping our world (Aims 1, 2, 3);
  2. Distinguish between and critically evaluate important recent historiographical debates in global, world, international, transnational and imperial history, arriving at independent judgements of them through analysis of both primary and secondary sources (A1, 2, 3, 4, 5);
  3. Formulate and articulate historical arguments both orally, before the members of the seminar, and in written form in assessed work (A1, 2, 3, 4);
  4. Engage in cooperative group learning in seminar discussions of interpretive issues (A3, 5);
  5. Explore the historiographical context for practice-based research, and identify and locate suitable sources for independent historical research on a chosen subject (A6);
  6. Use bibliographic skills in various media (including electronic sources) (A6).


Learning hours
Seminar hours Tutorial hours Independent Learning
20 3 277

The principal mode of contact will be ten two-hour seminar classes. The first will consider definitions of 'global history' as a discreet area of historical enquiry through comparison with related fields, including world, international, transnational, transregional and imperial history (LO 2). Weeks 2-9 will then offer a series of content-specific seminars, looking at a range of historical themes, issues and problems both as an introduction to advanced study of this field and as historical and historiographical context for individual research projects (LO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). The final session will provide an opportunity to draw some conclusions by considering problems and methods in the advanced study of global history as they will impact on student assessment for this module and the degree as a whole (LO 1, 2, 4, 5).

You will be set preparatory reading in advance for all seminars. You will be expected to share your knowledge of historiographical developments, debate controversial topics and listen and respond to the views of others in a structured environment (LO 3, 4). In addition, you will attend regular individual tutorials, in which you will identify topics for written papers, develop your reading around these topics, and discuss the structure and content of your written work (LO 3, 5, 6). Feedback on submitted work is again given in individual tutorials.



Assessment methods
Assessment Type % of final mark Length
Coursework Formative n/a 2000 words
Coursework Summative 100% 6000 words

Students will complete one written paper of 6,000 words. The work should engage with one or more of the concepts or themes of the module through a case-study/case-studies. It should demonstrate an advanced understanding of and critical engagement with current historiography, and advanced skills in the use of sources.

There will be a formative assessment in which students are invited to submit up to 2,000 words of a draft / plan / piece of exploratory writing in advance of the final essay. (LO 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)


Selected reading

  • P. K. O'Brien, 'Historiographical traditions and modern imperatives for the restoration of global history', Journal of Global History, 1 (2006), 3–40.
  • Pamela Kyle Crossley, What is Global History? (Polity, 2008)
  • Diego Olstein, Thinking History Globally (PalgraveMacmillan, 2015)
  • Andre Gunder Frank, ReOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age (University of California Press, 1998).
  • Seema Alavi, Muslim Cosmopolitanism in the Age of Empire (Harvard University Press, 2015)
  • Antoinette M. Burton, 'Getting Outside the Global: Re-Positioning British Imperialism in World History' in Race, Nation and Empire: Making Histories, 1750 to the Present, ed. Catherine Hall and K. McLelland (Manchester University Press, 2010), pp. 199-216.
  • Odd Arne Westad, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (Cambridge University Press, 2007).
  • Meredith Terretta, 'Cameroonian Nationalists Go Global: From Forest Maquis to a Pan-African Accra', Journal of African History 51:2 (2010): 189–212.
  • Daniel Immerwahr, Thinking Small: The United States and the Lure of Community Development (Harvard University Press, 2015).
  • Sunil S. Amrith, Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants (Harvard University Press, 2013).



*The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.