MSt Global and Imperial History since 1400

Course Structure

The course comprises:

Historical methodology class

Like all branches of history global and imperial history must be approached through concepts and with a sense of awareness of the methods of historical inquiry that are being used. Indeed, anyone reading an historical account of the rise and impact of, for instance, the British or of any other European or indeed non-European empire will be struck by the way that certain key ideas and arguments frame the discussion. The fact that the role of imperialism and colonialism in world history has been intensely controversial has made the meaning of the terms used to describe them all the more contested. This course is designed to encourage debate and discussion of some of the key concepts in global and imperial history (including ‘race’, ‘class’, ‘nationalism’, ‘Orientalism’, and ‘imperialism’ itself) as well as exploring the contribution that gender, economic and social, environmental, and transnational history or international relations and human geography can make to the understanding of global and imperial history.

The training seminar considers various approaches to global and imperial histories, and to the range of histories with which they intersect, including gender, ecological, post-colonial, and trans-national histories, as well as issues of race, conquest, and material culture. By actively engaging with key texts from contrasting historical perspectives, students will develop their understanding of the dynamic nature of historical thought and practice, and be encouraged to think critically and laterally about the relevance of these approaches to their own research.

Advanced Option

It is complemented by the following tutorial streams for further in-depth study (please note that not every tutorial stream will be available each year, and that they are subject to change):

The ‘globalization’ of history has been the most visible and significant development in historical scholarship of the past decade or so. Historians are increasingly aware of the need to place their work in a context that spills over national, regional, or civilizational boundaries.

Some of the most exciting work in global history has revolved around the question as to whether we can speak of an ‘early modern period’ for societies outside of the West. Were whole stretches of the world already on the march towards ‘modernity’ before the rise of European world domination? This course will introduce the two principal methodologies involved in doing this new large-scale history: the connective and the comparative. It will be taught through a series of seminars which will be led by a different guest expert in a non-European region or global theme each week together with the regular course leaders.

Why was it Europeans who began to use the seas and oceans to extend the reach of their trade, religion and military force across the world? How far is it helpful to see other regions of the world such as India and China through the lens of modernity? What allowed the rise of vast new empires across Eurasia and the Americas – and what did such empires have in common? What happens to the Portuguese church when you try to build it in the tropics? And why was it so common for Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist communities to become gripped by the sense that the end of the world was coming?

This graduate course offers a broad introduction to the socio-cultural and intellectual history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Japan in transnational and global perspective. The course introduces various methods, approaches, theories, and concepts that could be applied to re-examine the time and space of ‘modern Japan’, while also serving as an introduction to the transnational and intellectual history of Japan.

By the end of the course, you will have acquired foundational knowledge and skills to open up new directions in modern Japanese history writing. See the Nissan Institute website for more details.



This optional paper is designed to think about Muslim societies around the world not just as a religious community but as a social and cultural bloc (identified by Marshall Hodgson as the ‘Islamicate’ world). This lens allows for the study of trends across societies—spread across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, and in the last centuries in diasporas even further afield—and appreciation of the diversity of the Muslim world in the modern era. The paper will allow students to contrast different Muslim societies, examine points of confluence for geographically- or culturally-distinct Muslim peoples, and/or focus on the history of one society in a wider Islamicate context.

You are also allowed to take units from other courses, as long as your supervisor agrees and they are compatible with your own course. Here are some examples that may be relevant:


Topics in Global Economic History (from Economic and Social History)

Latin America since Independence (MSc Latin American Studies)

Disease, Medicine and Colonialism in South Asia (from History of Science, Medicine and Technology)

Options from the MSc in Modern South Asian Studies (Oriental Studies)


A dissertation of up to 15,000 words on an agreed topic. The dissertation is submitted during Trinity Term, but students will begin to formulate and plan their dissertation in conjunction with their supervisors from the beginning of the course.


Please also explore the Oxford China Centre for further information.

List of site pages