HST265: The Making of Modern India, 1780-1965

20 credits (semester 2)

Module Leader: Dr Saurabh Mishrah  


Pass in at least two Level One History Units HST112-120

Nearly seven decades have passed since India achieved its independence from British rule. Does the study of British colonialism still hold relevance for a country that appears – from newspaper and media reports – to be making giant leaps towards economic prosperity? This module will show that colonialism has had a deep impact on the subcontinent, and that various sections in the region continue to grapple with its legacies. It will consciously move beyond a study of European perceptions of India, and focus much more on the lives, livelihoods and ideas of ‘indigenous people’. The module will cover a long historical period, starting from the inception of colonial rule, to a brief incursion into the immediate post-colonial era. In discussing this period, we will also analyse a number of historiographical perspectives on Indian history, including the nationalist, imperialist, Marxist, and post-colonial perspectives.

Throughout the course of the module, we will not only try to engage with the larger politics of history-writing in India, but also link historical developments with contemporary events.

The module will cover the following themes:

Perspectives on Modern Indian History

Race and Colonialism in India

Annexations, Settlements and Surveys

Women in Nineteenth Century India: Sati (widow burning) and widow remarriage

The revolt of 1857 and the Crisis of Empire

Medicine, Hegemony, and the Colonial State

Was Caste a Colonial Invention?

Gandhi and Indian Nationalism

Partition and Independence

The Post-Colonial State: Transitions and Continuities

For a brief piece by me on the politics of history-writing in India, see the following piece on the History Matters blog:


For a documentary series on Indian history, watch Miachael Wood’s The Story of India, available through the Box of Broadcasts (e-resources).


Thomas and Barbara Metcalf, A Concise History of Modern University Press, 2001)

Sumit Sarkar, Modern India, 1885-1947 (Macmillan, India, 1983)

Sugata Bose, Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy (OUP, India, 1997)

Sugata Bose, Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy (OUP, India, 1997)

Peter Robb, A History of India (Palgrave, 2011)

Sekhar Bandopadhyay, From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India (Orient Longman, 2004)

Staff Contact: Dr Saurabh Mishra

Teaching Methods: Lectures, Seminars, Independent Study

Assessment: Formal Exam, Course work

Further guidance is provided in the module course booklet, available through MOLE. 

Intended Learning Outcomes
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