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)

Teaching Methods

Lectures, Seminars, Independent Study


Formal Exam, Course work.

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

Information on assessment can be found at: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/history/current_students/undergraduate/assessment/level2

Intended Learning Outcomes
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