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Empire: the Controversies of British Imperialism

University of Exeter via FutureLearn

This course may be unavailable.


Explore the British Empire through six controversial themes

Over six weeks, we’ll explore the British Empire through six themes - money, violence, race, religion, gender and sex, and propaganda. You’ll get to hear the stories of the fascinating individuals who contributed to both its rise and fall.

Along the way, you’ll be able to debate the questions these themes raise with learners from around the world, and draw your own conclusions.

You can start to explore the Empire and find out more about the Centre for Imperial and Global History on its blog, Imperial & Global Forum, or by following @ExeterCIGH on Twitter.

This course is intended for anyone with an interest in imperial history. It doesn’t require any reading before you start or previous experience of studying the subject.


  • Money
    • Week 1: welcome to the British Empire
    • A journey through the rise and fall of the British Empire
    • Money
    • Week 1: concluding comments
  • Violence
    • Week 2: welcome
    • Are empires intrinsically violent systems of social order?
    • Violence in the British Empire
    • Colonial Air Policing
    • Week 2: concluding comments
  • Race and religion
    • Week 3: welcome
    • Race
    • Religion
    • Week 3: concluding comments
  • Sex and gender
    • Week 4: welcome
    • Gender
    • Revealing the connections: gender, colonial power and dress
    • Sex
    • Week 4: concluding comments
  • Propaganda
    • Week 5: welcome
    • Imperial literary culture
    • Imperial visual culture
    • Exploring propaganda
    • Week 5: concluding comments
  • Power
    • Week 6: welcome
    • Collaboration and globalisation
    • The end of Empire
    • Assignment: the legacy of the British Empire
    • Week 6: concluding comments

Taught by

Richard Toye


4.0 rating, based on 12 Class Central reviews

4.5 rating at FutureLearn based on 382 ratings

Start your review of Empire: the Controversies of British Imperialism

  • Ben Curtis
    Really good course that open up new perspectives and makes you think about the controversies. I went in thinking it would be about historical controversies, but it turned out to be about current controversies in modern viewpoints and legacies of the British Empire. But it was still interesting, and, for an American, brought out many never thought-about aspects of Empire. My view of the legacy of Empire, and appreciation of its complexity, has risen as an outcome of this course.
  • Robert L. Everett
    The course was totally up to the students. There was no interface with the instructors. I also noticed that it was largely revisionist, meaning it applied today's standards of morality with actions taken 200 years ago. I also found some of the postings to be criticize everything at all times. I would not recommend the course to anyone trying to look at historic events, but rather those interested in pot shooting the British government.
  • Erkan Melih Şensoy
  • Svetlana
  • Kamil Trzebiatowski
  • Cristina Cotofana
  • Millie B.

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