Effective: Late Spring 8-Week, 2018/2019

HIST 359: The Rise And Fall Of The British Empire

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  Course Description

This course traces the emergence of an England-centered empire, which from the 1600s to the near-present facilitated a vast and violent movement of goods, peoples, technologies, diseases, cultural artifacts and cultural practices. Attention is paid to issues of negotiation, domination and resistance; the effects of gender across cultures; politicization, identity formation, and nationalism; the complications and uses of race; and the empire’s effects on Britain.

Prerequisite: HIST 102 or 112

Proctored Exams: Final



  • Colley, Linda. (2009). Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707-1837 (3rd ed.). New Haven: Yale University Press.  
    • [ISBN-978-0-300-15280-7]
  • Ferguson, Niall. (2004). Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power.Basic Books.  
    • [ISBN-978-0-465-02329-5]
  • Orwell, George. (1934). Burmese Days.Harvest Books.  
    • [ISBN-978-0-15-614850-4]

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

  Course Overview

You are about to begin an adventure into one of the most interesting and diverse topics of British History. There are as many historians who have written about the British Empire as there are interpretations of what, why, how, and where the empire existed. Through this course you will experience the empire from many perspectives. Analyzing secondary sources will allow you to understand what historians have discovered about the empire. Additionally, reading documents from individuals who lived during this imperial context (primary sources) will enable you to make your own educated interpretations concerning the empire. You will learn about political, economic, and social justifications and desires for the existence of the empire. We will focus on the periodization of the empire, from the early stages of the empire and mercantilism to the later stages of the World Wars and the resulting “Fall” of the empire. Additionally, we will investigate themes ranging from imperial identity to colonial nationalism, from formal to informal imperial policies, and from gender relations to racial factors of the empire. While covering the “Rise and Fall of the British Empire” in eight weeks is rather ambitious, the main goal for the class is that you will begin to understand the complexity and intertwined nature of the British Empire.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Objectives

  • To explore and better understand the different ideologies pertaining to the British Empire including mercantilism, classical liberalism, and protectionism.
  • To understand the roles of politics, economics, and public opinion for the history of the British Empire, and better understand the diversities of practice and policy in various geographical and temporal locations.
  • To understand the complexities of colonial encounter and domination, including issues of negotiation, complicity, accommodation and resistance

  Measurable Learning Outcomes

  • Understand major themes and theoretical frameworks of the British Empire.
  • Identify and characterize significant historical factors which contribute to patterns of change and continuity.
  • Identify and evaluate the different phases and structures of the British Empire through the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries.
  • Define the economic benefits and costs of the British Empire.
  • Identify motivating factors for imperialism/colonization, in addition to economic factors.
  • Explain the struggles accompanying decolonization during the twentieth century.
  • Explain the role of politics, including domestic and foreign concerns on empire building.
  • Explain how gender, race, and class impacted the development of the empire and colonial societies.
  • Explain the effects of empire upon domestic British society, including the legacies of decolonization.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 450-500 90-100%
B 400-449 80-89%
C 350-399 70-79%
D 300-349 60-69%
F 0-299 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions (9) 85 17%
Web Assignments (6) 60 12%
Book Review 50 10%
Research Paper: Abstract and Bibliography 25 5%
Research Paper 100 20%
Midterm Exam 50 10%
Final Exam 130 26%
Total 500 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Introduction 5 Wednesday
Discussion 1 10 Sunday
Web Assignment 1 10

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 2 10 Sunday
Web Assignment 2 10
Reseach Paper 0
Proctor Information N/A

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 10 Sunday
Web Assignment 3 10
Book Review 50

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 4 10 Sunday
Midterm Exam 50

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 10 Sunday
Web Assignment 4 10
Abstract & Bibliography 25

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 6 10 Sunday
Web Assignment 5 10

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 10 Sunday
Web Assignment 6 10
Research Paper 100

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 8 10 Saturday
Final Exam 130
Total Points: 500

  Assignment Overview


In addition to further analyzing the topic, the discussion assignment is an opportunity for you to practice effective written communication and academic debate. Each week you are required to actively participate in two discussion topics. The minimum requirement is one original, substantive post for each question and two responses to classmates’ posts each week. Participation in all discussion topics will improve performance on exams, and I will consider both topics as one when grading.

Active participate in discussions means that you answer all questions asked, read your classmates’ and my postings, and further the conversation in your response posts. Basically, your interaction in the weekly discussions needs to be more than simply posting your own answer. I encourage you to post early during the week as this allows time for real dialogue among you and your classmates.

Response Postings: Your responses to your classmates’ postings must be substantive and not a simple re-statement of their post. A remark, such as “good job on your post,” is not acceptable. You can and sometime should disagree with your classmates’ postings—but be certain to follow the code of conduct and do not level any personal attacks. I reserve the right to delete posts that I find inappropriate or combative.

Written Assignments

Throughout this course you will complete multiple written assignments of varying length. You will have six Web Assignments, one Book Review and one Research Paper, which will also consist of an Abstract and Bibliography submitted before the final paper. All written assignments should be submitted to the appropriate Dropbox folder.

Web Assignments: This assignment requires you to visit an assigned website, complete a reading or activity found on that website, and answer the assigned questions about your findings in short essay format. The length requirement is 1-2 pages, double-spaced, and 12-point, Times New Roman (or similar) font. Each assignment is worth 10 points for a total of 60 points. Please refer to the grading rubric for more details.

Book Review: The required book for the Book Review is Burmese Days by George Orwell. This is not a summary of the book, but rather a critical analysis of ways in which British Imperialism emerged in this work of fiction. To complete this review, select one component of British Imperialism, such as economics, society, race, gender, politics, cultural contact, etc., and assert how this fundamental factor permeated the book. The length requirement is a minimum of 4 pages, double-spaced, and 12-point, Times New Roman (or similar) font. Please number your pages and avoid the use of 1st person writing (I, me, my, etc.). Cite the page numbers from the text in parentheses when you extract information directly from the text. For example, Orwell writes “…” (11). Please refer to the grading rubric for more details.

Research Paper: You will complete a 10-page research paper on an approved topic. This assignment provides you with an opportunity to critically analyze a number of primary and secondary sources and support your position through your findings. In addition to research skills, this assignment can improve your written communication skills, an important skill for historians who not only relay historical facts, but tell stories with skill.
This assignment is broken into two parts: 1) Abstract/Bibliography and 2) the final paper. Each part will be graded independently and is due on different days.

Abstract/Bibliography: Your abstract will include a well-written, concise, and convincing statement of your argument for the research paper. Additionally, the abstract will set the parameters (time frame, themes, perspective) for your research paper. The bibliography will include a listing of primary and secondary sources critical to the development of your argument. You must resubmit your bibliography with your the final paper, but it is not necessary to submit your abstract with your final paper.

Final Paper: The body of the paper must be a minimum of ten pages, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins all around and 12-point, Times New Roman (or similar) font. Your paper should be no longer than twelve pages. This part is the bulk of the assignment. You must clarify your thesis and then strongly and succinctly support your position using your research findings. The body of your paper must consist of an introduction with your statement of argument, body paragraphs that develop and “prove” your argument, and a conclusion. To build your argument, you must review a minimum of six primary sources (letters, diaries, publications, etc.) and four secondary sources. Your must reference your sources throughout the text and the bibliography page using the Chicago Manual of Style or Turabian citation style. Please refer to the grading rubric for more details.


You will complete two computerized exams, a Midterm and a Final. Both are available in the Quizzes area. The Midterm is comprised of seven multiple-choice, four short answer, and two essay questions. The Midterm will open on Monday at 6:00 a.m. and will close on Sunday at midnight. You will have 90 minutes to complete this exam, which is open-note/open-book. The Final is a proctored exam and must be completed by midnight Saturday. It will open on Monday morning at 6:00 a.m. and will close Saturday night at midnight. You will have 2 hours to complete this exam, which consists of 10 multiple-choice, 4 short answer, and 2 essay questions.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

• Review the information available in the Content area for Week 1.
Colley: Introduction, Chapters 1 & 2
Please post your introduction by midnight Wednesday. Introduce yourself to the class. Include any comments regarding your interests in history you feel appropriate. (You will post this assignment by clicking on the “Discussions” tab in our class. You will find this assignment under the forum labeled “Week 1.”)
Discussion 1
Please answer the following questions and respond to two of your classmates’ posts by midnight Sunday.

1. Why does Linda Colley refer to Britain as a “less than united kingdom”? Why was religion so important in Britain and what function(s) did it serve?

2. In Chapter 2, Colley discusses patriotism. What gave the British patriotism? What sorts of things set the British apart from the other nations of Europe?
Web Assignment 1
Go to the following website and take a look at the Political Cartoons under the link for Punch Empire Illustrations: http://www.britishempire.co.uk/media/punch/punch.htm. To see captions explaining each cartoon, click on the cartoon itself. This will bring up a large picture of the cartoon as well as an accompanying explanation. Answer the following
question and submit your document to the correct Dropbox folder by midnight Sunday.

1. What do these contemporary cartoons tell us about British public opinion toward their Empire? Keep in mind that these cartoons would have been read and recognized by Britain’s general population. Use specific information from the cartoons.
• Review the information available in the Content area for Week 2.
Colley: Chapter 3
Orwell: Begin reading. I recommend you read 100-150 pages.
Video Recommendation: The Madness of King George (1994)
Discussion 2
lease answer the following questions and respond to two of your classmates’ posts by midnight Sunday.

1. As the British Empire expanded in the 18th century, it caused the definition of "Britishness" to change. Discuss some of the issues that arose as "Britishness" grew to mean more than "Englishness." What countries were involved?

2. What key ideas of British imperialism are present in Burmese Days? Consider the themes of politics, economics, society, and religion.
Web Assignment 2
Watch the interview with British historian, Niall Ferguson, posted at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN0WifTjTmM. I think you will find the interview with Ferguson very thought-provoking, whether you agree with him or not. We will be reading Ferguson's book that he's discussing in the second half of this class!

After watching the video, write a short essay in which you address the following. What are some of the lessons that Ferguson says America can learn from the British Empire? Why does Ferguson argue that the British Empire was “good” in many ways? Do you agree with his arguments? Why or why not?
Reseach Paper
Ideas for your topic must be posted in the Discussions area by midnight Sunday.
Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.
• Review the information available in the Content area for Week 3.
Colley: Chapter 5
Orwell: Finish reading
Discussion 3
Please answer the following questions and respond to two of your classmates’ posts by midnight Sunday.

1. Based on Colley's Chapter 5, what role did the monarchy play in British life? Keep in mind that the monarch was the symbolic figurehead of the British Empire.

2. Why was George III different from previous monarchs?
Web Assignment 3
Go to the following website and look at the various advertisements that you find there: http://www.britishempire.co.uk/media/advertising/advertising.htm. Use these advertisements to complete this assignment. Submit your document to the correct Dropbox folder by midnight Sunday.

1. Discuss the role that the British empire played in people’s daily lives. How did the British view their Empire? With pride? Romanticism? Etc.? Use specifics from the website to support your essay!
Book Review
Please complete a Book Review on George Orwell’s book, Burmese Days, using the criteria outlined in the assignment’s description (see above and in the Content area).  Submit your completed review via the correct Dropbox folder by midnight Sunday.
• Review the information available in the Content area for Week 4.
Colley: Chapters 7, 8, & Conclusion
Video Recommendation: Amazing Grace (2006)
Discussion 4
Please answer the following question and respond to two of your classmates’ posts by midnight Sunday.

1. What were some of the differences within Britain (i.e., England, Scotland, and Wales) when it came to the military? How did this change in the wars with France of the late 18th century?

2. What role did the movement to abolish slavery play in British identity?
Midterm Exam
Complete the Midterm Exam by midnight Sunday. The Midterm will open on Monday at 6:00 a.m. and will cover information from Weeks 1-4.
• Review the information available in the Content area for Week 5.
Ferguson: pp. 1-69
Video Recommendation: A Passage to India (1984)
Discussion 5
Please answer the following question and respond to two of your classmates’ posts by midnight Sunday.

1. Ferguson rejects the idea that the British Empire was acquired “in a fit of absence of mind.” What does he mean by this? Provide details from the readings to support your analysis.

2. This discussion topic is intended to help you as you work on your Research Paper. You have two choices; select only one:
• You may share something helpful that you have learned that may help others in their research. (For example, you may have found a great website, or maybe you have come across a specific tip in Turabian that may apply to everyone's research.)
• You may ask me a question. Perhaps there is a technical question that you have in regards to Turabian style, or maybe you would like to know how to use a function in Microsoft Word (ex: how to insert footnotes).
Web Assignment 4
Under Week 4 in the Content link, you looked at some videos and documents about the famous hymn, Amazing Grace. You learned about the history of the hymn. Write a 1-2 page paper in which you discuss your reaction to the collections posted in the Content link. Submit your document to the correct Dropbox folder by midnight Sunday.
Abstract & Bibliography
Please submit the Abstract and Bibliography portion of your Research
Paper via the correct Dropbox folder by midnight Sunday.
• Review the information available in the Content area for Week 6.
Ferguson: pp. 69-136
Discussion 6
Please answer the following question and respond to two of your classmates’ posts by midnight Sunday.

1. Discuss why the American Revolution was a “civil war.” Why do you think the situation in Australia turned out so differently (i.e., no civil war)?

2. Ferguson identifies David Livingstone as “the Victorian Superman.” Why? Discuss what Ferguson means when he describes Livingstone’s vision as “Commerce, Civilization, and Christianity.” To what extent did this succeed in India and in Africa?
Web Assignment 5
Under the Content link for Week 6, you will find some videos on the “British Colonies and Independence.” Watch the first two short videos (on America). Write a 1-2 page paper in which you discuss your reaction. Submit your document to the correct Dropbox folder by midnight Sunday.
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
• Review the information available in the Content area for Week 7.
Ferguson: pp. 136-221
Discussion 7
Please answer the following question and respond to two of your classmates’ posts by midnight Sunday.

1. By the end of the Victorian era, the world became much smaller. How did technology influence life in the outposts of the British Empire? Would you consider these changes positive or negative?

2. Ferguson argues that at the turn of the 19th/20th century, “British attitudes toward their Empire flipped over from arrogance to anxiety.” Why this transformation?
Web Assignment 6
Go to the http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1533919/A-rhino-in-the-living-room-how-Empire-is-coming-out-of-the-shadows.html and read the recent article, “A Rhino in the Living Room,” from a London newspaper. Submit your document to the correct Dropbox folder by midnight Sunday.

1. Discuss how the British view the Empire today. Is it with nostalgia? Shame? Longing for the past? Fascination?
Research Paper
Please submit the final version of your Research Paper to the correct Dropbox folder by midnight Sunday.
• Review the information available in the Content area for Week 8.
Ferguson: pp. 221-302
Discussion 8
Please answer the following question and respond to two of your classmates’ posts by midnight Saturday.

1. Why/how did the British Empire “fall” in the 20th century? Do you agree with Ferguson that it was “a sacrifice”?

2. Why is Chapter Six titled, “Empire for Sale?” What does that mean? Do you agree with Ferguson’s argument?
Final Exam
Complete the Final Exam by midnight Saturday. The Final will open on Monday at 6:00 a.m. and will cover information from Weeks 5-8 only.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted. You will be penalized 50% for all late work.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.