SOAS University of London

Department of History

H335 Gandhi and Gandhism

Module Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

The dominant figure in India's nationalist movement for nearly thirty years, M. K. Gandhi has also been one of the 20th century's most influential political activists and thinkers. This course charts Gandhi's career against the back¬ground of events in London, South Africa and India. It examines the evolution and practical application of his ideas and techniques of non-violent resistance, and his attitudes toward the economy, society and state. Gandhi's influence on Indian politics and society is critically assessed and his claim to be the 'maker of modern India' examined in the light of developments since his death in 1948. Though helpful, a prior knowledge of Indian history is not required for this course.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The objective of this course is to give students

  • an understanding of the key aspects of Gandhi’s thought as well as of the role he played in the Indian nationalist movement.
  • good working knowledge of the specific historiographic and conceptual problems central to the study of Gandhi’s ideas, the Indian nationalist movement and the end of empire in South Asia.
  • an increased ability in critical historical thinking and cultural analysis more generally developed through close reading and discussions of prescribed texts, including Gandhi’s own writings.
  • Support and confidence to write well-structured, persuasive and analytical essays dealing with the themes covered in the course.

Method of assessment

Exam (60%) and 3 x Coursework (40%)

Suggested reading

  • Brown, J. Gandhi: Prisoner of Hope (New Haven, 1989);
  • Chatterjee, M. Gandhi's Religious Thought (London, 1983);
  • Dalton, D. Mahatma Gandhi (Indianapolis, 1993);
  • Mukherjee, R. Penguin Gandhi Reader (Delhi, 1994);
  • Parekh, B. Gandhi's Political Philosophy (Basingstoke, 1989).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules