SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

H236 State and Society in Mughal India

Module Code:
This module is expected to run every other year
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 2

The course focuses on Mughal rule in north India within the context of the Muslim World. Using the political developments in India from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries as guiding lines for the discussion, the course will examine some of the main political, social, and religious institutions and processes in the Mughal Empire and their role in shaping state and society in South Asia. While considering the various historiographical frameworks used to analyse the Mughal Empire, this course will emphasize Mughal dynamism, adaptation to changing circumstances, and diversity. Special attention will be given to the origins of the empire, its institutions, and its ideology in relations to Muslim and Persian thought, the Central Asian past, and South Asian traditions; the imperial identity of the dynasty; the language and culture of empire and regional variants; facets of Islamic societies and their relations with the state; Inter-religious interactions: accommodation, hostility, and conversion; and Mughal India in an increasingly globalizing environment.


  • Students enrol via the on-line Module Sign-up system. Students are advised of the timing of this process via email by the Dept. administrator

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The objective of this course is to provide the students with a firm basis for the understanding of South Asia during the Mughal period from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. By discussing the nature of the social, political, and religious foundations of Mughal India as a dynamic process, the students will acquire a multifaceted understanding of the factors that shaped state and society in early modern South Asia and that were carried into the later colonial state.

Method of assessment

  • Analysis of a primary source 400 words, worth 10%
  • Response paper to an article 600 words, worth 20%
  • Essay plan and bibliography 500 words, worth 10%
  • Essay 3,000 words, worth 60%

Suggested reading

  • John F. Richards, The Mughal Empire (CUP, 1993)
  • André Wink, Akbar (Oneworld, 2009)
  • Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (eds), The Mughal State, 1526-1750 (OUP, 1998)
  • Muzaffar Alam, The Languages of Political Islam in India, 1200-1800 (Permanent Black, 2004)
  • P.J. Marshall (ed.), The Eighteenth Century in Indian History (OUP, 2005)
  • Douglas E. Streusand, The Formation of the Mughal Empire (OUP, 1989)
  • M. Athar Ali, Mughal India: Studies in Polity, Ideas, Society, and Culture (OUP, 2006)
  • Bamber Gascoigne, The Great Moghuls (Time Books International, 1971)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules