SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Introduction to Global Studies

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Full Year

This module is an introduction to the study of the world, past and present, from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives. It thus allows students to understand how the world got to be the way it is, while beginning to use a variety of tools and approaches in order to understand both change over time and contemporary phenomena. It provides a foundation for subsequent work in the global track of the BA Global Liberal Studies, as well as a framework within which to place the study of particular regions and themes, both in the first year and subsequently. In term 1, we explore the history of the world, from the neolithic revolution to the present, focusing on developments in the last 500 years. In term 2, we examine the contemporary world through the lenses of economics, politics, society, and culture, as it is studied by economists, political scientists, anthropologists and sociologists, and scholars of literature and art, media, film and music. The course is assessed by two essays (one for each term), and an end-of-year exam.


  • 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, students will:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of how the contemporary world got to be the way it is and of its key features in the present
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of basic differences in approach, questions, and method between the main disciplines in the humanities and social sciences
  3. Identify and evaluate the premises, argument and use of evidence in academic writing across a number of disciplines
  4. Construct convincing arguments, combining critical insight and a command of relevant evidence, about the historical development and contemporary situation of the world

Scope and syllabus

Term 1

1. The world as seen from SOAS
2. Orientations: the world before European hegemony
3. 1492 and all that
4. The early modern world
5. The age of revolution
6. The age of capital
7. The age of empire
8. Modern times
9. Cold war world
10. After empire?

 Term 2

11. Globalization 101
12. The global economy I
13. The global economy II
14. Global politics I
15. Global politics II
16. Global society I
17. Global society II
18. Global culture I
19. Global culture II
20. Conclusions

 Term 3

21. Review term 1
22. Review term 2

Method of assessment

  • Exam worth 40%
  • Essay of 2,000 words - worth 20%
  • Essay of 3,000 words - worth 30%
  • Presentation - worth 10%

Suggested reading

NOTE: all reading, both core and additional, is already held in library. Course will also draw extensively on e-journal holdings, eg: Global Society; Journal of Global History; Journal of World History.

  •  Darwin, J. After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires. London: Penguin, 2008.
  • Held, D. The Global Transformation Reader. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000.
  • Mazlish, B. The global history reader. New York: Routledge, 2004.
  • Steger, M. Globalization: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, 2009.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules