Module Catalogue 2016/17

HIS2133 : Society and Politics in Colonial India, 1880s-1947

  • Offered for Year: 2016/17
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Samiksha Sehrawat
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module is for students interested in non-European history who have never studied it before. India is increasingly becoming important for British investors after the market-based reforms which converted it into the second fastest growing economy in the world. The British ruled India for 200 years and modern Indian history is very closely related to British history. The popularity of curries in Britain, the presence of large numbers of South Asians in Britain and the strong educational links between the two countries are just some of the reminders of the British connection with India. This module gives students who are unfamiliar with this history an opportunity to engage with it. The main aims of the module are to introduce students to South Asian history and to develop their understanding of British imperial history and colonialism.

The module will cover some of the social, economic and political developments that have shaped contemporary India. It will trace the history of nationalist protests that made India the first British colony in Asia or Africa to become free in 1947. Students will be introduced to important historical figures like Gandhi, who were very influential – shaping the culture of protest in other colonies and important figures such as Mandela and Dr Martin Luther King Jr. To understand the history of this nationalist politics is to under the process of decolonization and the decline of the British empire. Its significance lies not merely for Indian history but for the history of anti-colonialism in the British empire. The module will introduce students to the importance of caste in Indian society and explain one of the most important and least known political developments in India today – the rise of lower-caste Dalit politics.

Another theme at the heart of the module is the challenge of multi-culturalism. India is a very diverse society. There are numerous religious groups in India including Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains. India has the world's thirdlargest Muslim population and the largest Muslim population for a non-Muslim majority country. This religious diversity has produced tensions in Indian politics which led to the partition of India and the creation of India and Pakistan in 1947.
The rise of the Hindu Right has many commonalities with the discourse against Islam that has become pervasive since the 9/11 terror attacks and students will discuss the implications of living in societies where different religious groups have different social practices. The emphasis of teaching is on learning in a friendly atmosphere, with students interaction and curiosity is encouraged.

Outline Of Syllabus

Lecture topics may include:
Lecture 1: Background
Lecture 2: Early nationalism (1): ‘Moderates’
Lecture 3: Early nationalism (2): ‘Extremists’, Swadeshi Movement
Lecture 4: Communalism and ‘Muslim Separatism’ & Early Gandhian Movements
Lecture 5: Gandhian Philosophy: Political Thought, Techniques, Critiques
Lecture 6: Khilafat, Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience
Lecture 7: Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience: Participation of peasants, tribals and bourgeoisie
Lecture 8: Historiographical Interpretations of Indian History
Lecture 9: Caste: Concepts and Introduction to early political mobilization
Lecture 10: Caste: Ambedkar and the Role of caste-based identities in colonial Indian politics
Lecture 11: Khilafat Movement and Communalism in the 1920s
Lecture 12: Partition (1): High Politics

Seminar topics may include:
Seminar 1: Early Nationalism and Elite Politics
Seminar 2: Gandhian Philosophy
Seminar 3: Mass Nationalism and Participation of Different Social Groups: 1920s-1930s
Seminar 4: Interpretations of Nationalist Movement
Seminar 5: Peasant or ‘Subaltern’ Nationalism
Seminar 6: Caste
Seminar 7: Communalism
Seminar 8: Partition (2): Communal Violence, Gender, Community

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Students will be able to:
• Outline the key events in the development of the popular anti-imperial struggle in colonial South Asia.
• Understand the colonial roots of contemporary socio-political issues in South Asia.
• Identify social structures of South Asian society and analyse the participation of different social groups in political processes.
• Explain change in South Asian society and politics.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Students will be able to develop the following skills:

Knowledge and Understanding

Subject-Specific Skills
• Assess critically the historiographies of key events in South Asian history.
• Critically engage with historical literature on key figures and themes in modern South Asian history.
• Examine explanatory models of political change in south Asian history.
• Foundational appreciation of primary source materials, with specific focus on using analytical categories such as class, gender and caste as frames of reference.

• Demonstrate an ability to challenge received conclusions (Learning to Learn).
• Communicate effectively conclusions regarding events and social groups in South Asian history in clear and concise essay formats (Communication Skills).
• Participate effectively within groups to deliver presentations on selected problems in south Asian history (Group Work Skills).

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Literacy : Assessed
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Assessed
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Assessed
  • Self Management
    • Self Awareness And Reflection : Present
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Assessed
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Innovation And Creativity : Assessed
      • Initiative : Assessed
      • Independence : Present
      • Problem Solving : Assessed
      • Adaptability : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Present
      • Written Other : Assessed
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
      • Relationship Building : Present
      • Negotiation : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion661:0066:0040% of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture131:0013:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading661:0066:0040% of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching13:003:00Film Screening
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching72:0014:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching21:002:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops21:002:00skills session with discussion of readings, presentation skills
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Workshop for Oral Presentations and Primary Sources
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study321:0032:0020% of guided independent study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures are meant to introduce students to topics and concepts that will be very unfamiliar to them. They are meant to provide a basic knowledge about the themes discussed in the course. They will make use of PowerPoint presentations and handouts may be made available electronically or in hardcopy to provide a guide for individual study of recommended reading. Seminars will provide an opportunity to students to explore the more difficult topics further through a discussion of recommended readings These will involve small and large group work and will require engagement in discussion and debate. Seminars will help students develop many of the skills learning outcomes described above.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1351A75unseen
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M252000 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining student progress. The exam tests acquisition of a clear general knowledge of the subject plus the ability to think and analyse a problem quickly, to select from and to apply both the general knowledge and detailed knowledge of aspects of the subject to new questions, problem-solving skills, adaptability, the ability to work unaided, and to write clearly and concisely.

Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

All exchange students at Newcastle University including Erasmus, study-abroad, exchange proper and Loyola are warmly encouraged to do the same assessment as the domestic students unless they have compelling reasons not to do so. If this is the case, they are offered the option of writing one 3,000 word essay to be handed in by 12.00 p.m. of the Friday of the first week of the assessment period. This will replace all assessment work required of domestic students. If they wish to take up this option, students need to discuss it with their module leader, having checked with their home university that the new assessment will be accepted by them.

Students who opt for the alternative assessment because they will have to leave Newcastle University before the assessment period (excluding Erasmus students, who are contractually obliged to be at Newcastle until the end of the semester) should hand in their 3000-word essays before they go away. If this is not possible, they should tell the School exchange coordinator that they are going to submit their essays in absentia, then submit their essays through Blackboard and email copies of the essays to the School Office ( Any essay received after the deadline will be considered as a late submission.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Note: The Module Catalogue now reflects module information relating to academic year 16/17. Please contact your School Office if you require module information for a previous academic year.

Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.