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HIS8120 : Missions, Missionaries and Empires in World History: British, European and Informal Empires

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jen Kain
  • Lecturer: Dr Darakhshan Khan, Dr Emily Price, Dr Willow Berridge, Dr Joseph Lawson
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module is for students interested in understanding British and European history within the context of global developments in the past. This module explores how the establishment of empires was often accompanied by various imperial missions to ‘improve’ the condition of imperial subjects. The most well-known of such imperial missions was the civilizing mission of the British Empire from the nineteenth century, but versions of this practice can be seen in much earlier periods, too. This module will take examples from imperial histories to explain why ideological justifications of empire are at the heart of imperial projects. It will also examine how missionaries from Europe sometimes acted as agents of European powers in their relations with Asian empires.

Learning Aims:
Development of the students’ capacity for independent study.
Development of capacity for independent study and critical judgement and of the ability to respond promptly, cogently and clearly to new and unexpected questions arising from this study.
Development of associated skills in research, critical reading and reasoning, sustained discussion and appropriate presentation of the results.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics covered in the module may include:
•The Civilizing Mission in the British Empire in India.
The Civilizing Mission in the British Empire in the Pacific.
•Missionaries and the introduction of western style medical care and education in Asia, Africa and Aotearoa New Zealand.
•Pilgrims and tourists in Early Modern Europe.
•Christian Missionaries and relations with Maori iwis (tribes).
•Missionary writing and literature within processes of colonisation.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion701:0070:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading301:0030:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00Present in person seminars
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities113:0033:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study451:0045:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The main teaching method for this module is the seminar, which is meant to create a student-centred learning environment in which to encourage the transferable skills of independent study and effective oral communication. Students will be introduced to challenging conceptual and historical knowledge encountered by students through independent study of prescribed readings. Seminars encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral communication, problem-solving skills, and adaptability. Preparation for seminars will require students to undertake a programme of private reading, requiring good time management and personal responsibility for learning.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A1003,800 words (including footnotes, excluding bibliography)
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Poster1MApprox 200 words
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.

The essay tests the ability to design a research question based on both primary and secondary materials. Guidance will be provided by the teaching staff as to the appropriateness of the chosen question.

The formative poster assessment is intended to showcase the wide range of primary materials - especially pictorial - used in imperial missionary activity. It will also enable students to practice the best way of formatting poster materials in advance of the same summative assessment used in later MA modules.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.

Reading Lists