SOAS University of London

International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies

World History

This is a module for people who want to understand why the world is structured the way it is.

It provides insights into the events, people and cultures that have shaped the modern world. It examines the history of the world since the fifteenth century, looking at the rise and fall of the political and economic systems in this long period.

The first term looks at the world up to 1763, studying Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Ottoman, Safavid, Mughal, Spanish, Portuguese, French and British empires. This term focuses on the strength of non-European systems and the overall weakness of Europe in comparison.

The second term considers, and attempts to explain, the rise of European (and U.S.) power in the world and the last final term focuses on the legacy of this imperial past.

The module examines the debates generated by historians as they attempt to explain these huge changes, and students will be encouraged to think critically about the opinions offered by various thinkers. It provides an ideal introduction to the study of history and will encourage students to think about the world around them. 

Topics studied include:

  • The Ottoman, Persian and Mughal empires
  • Europe and the Americas
  • New Imperialism
  • The World Wars
  • Decolonisation and the Cold War
  • 1989 and the end of the Soviet empire
  • China since World War II

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