SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

H337 Histories of Partition: India and Pakistan 1947 (I)

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 3
Taught in:
Full Year


  • Students  enrol via the on-line Module Sign-Up system. Students are advised of the timing of this process via email by the Faculty Office

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  1. A good understanding of the complex politics that led to partition of British India into the two states of India and Pakistan.
  2. The ability to identify the complex themes in any discussion on partition.  Understand the global and local contexts of nationalist politics.
  3. An awareness of the human and social costs of geopolitical power struggles.
  4. The ability to learn to read primary materials and locate them in a context of politics and power, thus enhancing your critical faculties.
  5. The ability to write short and well-argued essays.
  6. The ability to speak clearly and with confidence in public  - since this is not a lecture course, we spend our time in debate and discussion.


2 hours of seminars each week for 22 weeks.

Scope and syllabus

Partition and independence in 1947 are critical events underlying the modern history of India and Pakistan.  This course will examine the histories of nationalist and imperial politics that are held to account for the partition of British India.  It will also examine the ‘experience ‘ of partition beyond its politics.  Through it to become familiar with the historiography of colonialism, nationalism and gain an understanding of cultural, political issues involved in the politics of governing diverse groups, the politics of identity, its various sources and dimensions the role of literature and culture, questions of memory and pain, as well as international geopolitics.

The course assumes a basic familiarity with the history of the subcontinent.  It will be based on primary texts of colonial reports, political party documents and declarations about partition as well as personal accounts, memories and fiction on partition. As intense passion informs much of the writing on this history, we will attempt to read different accounts of the same events to be able to account for the interests that inform the material produced. We will aim towards making students intelligent readers about the region.  This skill in analysing a text is of utmost importance in the repertoire of any historian and should provide the students with a valuable transferrable skill of lifelong importance.

Method of assessment

Exam (60%), one 2,000 word essay (10%), one 2,500 word essay (15%), one 2,500 word essay (15%)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules