SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

H102 World Histories - Global Encounters and Connectivities

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Full Year

H102 History of the World explores the history of humankind from the
Paleolithic period to the globalized twenty-first century. We proceed
chronologically, to understand how the world as a whole got to be the
way it is. But we also explore the process from different angles, allowing
us to make comparisons between and connections among different parts
of the world. We will look at empires and nations, trade and industry, and
at social movements, religion, culture, and ideas. We will explore the
impact that European colonialism has had on the way in which we
understand the world and its history, but we will also locate this regional
dominance carefully, to show how the rise of western dominance is a
relatively recent development.
The module will provide a framework within which you can situate
particular regions and periods, as well as an introduction to themes that
you might want to explore further. It is designed to work alongside, and
help you to get more out of, our modules providing introductory histories
to the different regions studied at SOAS and to push you to explore
further some of the debates encountered in H101 Approaching History.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, students will:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of how the world got to be the way it is and of the main features of its evolution over time
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of how approaches to the global past have changed over time and differ depending on the historian's perspective
  3. Identify and evaluate the premises, argument and use of evidence in historical writing at a global scale and over large spans of time
  4. Construct convincing arguments, combining critical insight and a command of relevant evidence, about the historical development of the world

Scope and syllabus

1. Introduction: time and the history of the world
2. 40,000 BC - 1500 BC How and why did people start living in
3. Trade, territorial states and empires
4. The spread of writing: 3300 BC - 900 AD
5. Ancient religious life: from the collective to the individual?
6. The global spread of Islam
7. Culture in a non-dark age: courtly culture, literature and the arts
in the 'Golden Age of Islam'
8. Globe-trotting with Ibn Battuta: religious and cultural exchange in
an earlier age of globalisation
9. Atlantic encounters and exchanges
10. The seventeenth century global crisis and climate
11. Eurasia’s early modern empires
12. Oceanic worlds
13. Movement, communications and cultures of consumption
14. ‘Enlightenment’ and ‘revolution’
15. Industry and Empire: the Great Divergence
16. Formalising social difference – race, class, gender, caste and
17. Modern imperialism
18. ‘World’ War and ‘World’ Depression: the emergence of a new
international order
19. Decolonisation and the post-war world
20. Histories of the world in a post-colonial age?

Method of assessment

  • Exam (50%)
  • Response paper, 500 words (5%)
  • Essay, 1,500 words (20%)
  • Response paper, 500 words (5%)
  • Essay, 1,500 words (20%)

Suggested reading

  • Darwin, J. After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires. London: Penguin, 2008.
  • Marks, R. The Origins of the Modern World. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015, 2007.
  • The following will also be extensively used during the module:
  • Mazlish, B. The global history reader. New York: Routledge, 2004.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules