Module Catalogue 2019/20

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

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • 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 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 countries by leaders like Nelson Mandela and Dr Martin Luther King Jr. To understand the history of Indian nationalist politics is to understand 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 third largest 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 cultural practices. The emphasis of teaching is on learning in a friendly atmosphere, where student 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).

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 ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00N/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 teaching81:008:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching21:002:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops20:301:00Workshops for Oral Presentations and Primary Sources
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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M252000 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
Essay1A753,000 word essay (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining student progress.
Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree unless they have compelling reasons not to do so. If this is the case, they are offered the alternative 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 other students on the module. In order to take up this option, students need to discuss it with the Study Abroad Co-ordinator and their module leader, having checked with their home university that the new assessment will be accepted by them. The Study Abroad Co-ordinator will have the final say on such issues.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will require the provision of an alternative assessment before the end of teaching week 12. The alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 1,500 word essays in addition to the other coursework assessment. The essays should be set so as to assure full coverage of the course content.

Study-abroad, exchange proper and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.