Britain and its Empire (Online)

Course summary

  • Wed 19 Apr 2017 to Fri 30 Jun 2017
  • Online
  • From £255.00
  • 10 CATS points
  • Course code O16P481HIV
  • Applications being accepted

Britain and its Empire (Online)


The British Empire shaped the planets geopolitical landscape and played a major role in creating the modern world. While impacting on the lives of millions of people overseas, it created modern Britain too. This course examines the rise and fall of empire and its manifold legacies in Britain and beyond.

The British Empire was the most significant political entity in the world until the middle of the twentieth century and profoundly affected the lives of millions of people. Processes of imperial expansion and rule were integral to globalization, and the disintegration of the European empires significantly shaped the world in which we live today. The Empire deeply influenced Britain, too. The aim of this course is to provide students with a working knowledge of the causes, course and consequences of British imperial history, from the origins of empire to decolonization and Britains position in the world today. The subject is a broad one, but can be approached holistically given the proliferation of quality overviews of the Empires history. The course focuses upon a number of key themes within the study of British imperial history and allows a wide range of choice for students in approaching their studies.

For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.

Programme details


1. Defining the British Empire

2. The engines of imperial expansion I

3. The engines of imperial expansion II

4. Phases and regions of imperial expansion

5. Governing the Empire

6. Living in the Empire

7. The Empire at home

8. Displaying and exhibiting the Empire

9. The end of empire

10. Legacies of empire

Recommended reading

To participate in this course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following books:
Dalziel, N., Penguin Historical Atlas of the British Empire (London: Penguin, 2006)
Darwin, J., Unfinished Empire: The Global Expansion of Britain (London: Penguin, 2013)
Jackson, A., The British Empire: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £10 fee.

For more information on CATS point please click on the link below:

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting both course assignments and actively participating in the course forums. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.


Home/EU: £255.00
Non-EU Fee: £295.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00


Dr Iain Johnston


Iain Johnston received his PhD from the University of Cambridge before holding positions at Sciences Po, Paris, and the Houses of Parliament. He has published on the British Commonwealth in several journals and edited volumes, and has a forthcoming book, The British Commonwealth and Victory in the Second World War.

Course aims

This course aims tointroduce students to the rise and fall of the British Empire and its place in modern international history. Its focus will be to argue that the empire story is central to an understanding of British history, not an adjunct to it, and to an understanding of the modern world because it was deeply shaped by British imperialism. This course will enable participants to: Understand the causes of British imperial expansion Understand the course and consequences of British imperial history, from the origins of empire to decolonization and Britains position in the world today Develop an understanding of the chronological phases of British expansion and the regions of the world in which it occurred Develop a range of historical skills by evaluating primary and secondary sources, and the historiography of the period

Teaching methods

Guided reading of documents Research topics with student feedback Discussion sessions Set questions on primary materials Questions to be answered in personal folders Quizzes Guided exercises on acquiring a range of historical skills

Teaching outcomes

By the end of this course students will be expected to understand: The definition of the British Empire on multiple levels The expansion of the British Empire The governance and administration of the British Empire The Empires influence on British culture and politics The end of the British Empire Imperial legacies in the world today By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained the following skills: To be able to analyse and evaluate a range of explanations for, and interpretations of, the rise and fall of the British Empire The ability to think and speak incisively about a complex historical topic To write critical, balanced and informed assessment of key historical issues and communicate their ideas successfully The ability to evaluate and interpret primary sources The ability to use electronic media both to discover and to present information and ideas

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.