SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

H437 Histories of Partition: India and Pakistan 1947 (II)

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2019/2020
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 complexity of the politics that led to partition in India and Pakistan.
  2. The ability to identify the complex themes in any discussion on partition.  An Understanding 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.
  5. 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.
  6. This is the second part of the course of the students should show greater familiarity in assessing and using primary materials write a long and  well-argued essay using primary documents and placing them in secondary contexts.


Two hours of seminars each week for 22 weeks.

Scope and syllabus

This is the companion course, involving the students in writing a 10,000 words Extended Essay, for ‘Histories of Partitions: India and Pakistan 1947. The Extended Essay will be on a topic to be agreed between the student and the teacher, and will involve study of primary source materials in English, in translation (or in the original language if the student is able to read it). If a student chooses to do both parts (1) and (2), they may only be taken in the student’s final year.

To think through the issue of partition in the context of South Asia and become familiar with the issues raised by the politics of partition.  The course will seek to familiarise students with the historiography of colonialism and nationalism, and to impart an understanding of the cultural and political issues involved in the politics of governing different groups, the politics of identity, its various sources and dimensions, the role of literature and culture, questions of memory and pain, and questions of international geopolitics.

The course will be based on primary texts of UN resolutions, colonial reports, political party documents and declarations about partition, as well as published narratives – literary or visual -- 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 analyzing 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

1 x 10,000 words Essay. 100% Coursework.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules