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State, society and the individual in the non-western world HI1003-05

The aims of the course are to teach you the main political structures in the non-Western world and the ways in which society and the individual relate to them.

This involves study of the relation between groups and the state, the role of religion, of women and the family and of identity, and how and why these have either changed or resisted change.

Students should learn how to relate the conceptual framework they are given to the interpretation of the texts they must study in detail within a framework of a wider reader. They must demonstrate they have understood the skills component of the course with regard to the written examination at the end of the course.


15 Credits

Topics covered

  • The major change that has taken place in the nature of the state from personalised and minimal rule to modern centralised and often secular control.
  • The evolution of an older ordering of society in tribes, castes and guilds to new social groups, institutions and organisations.
  • The role and function of religion in a non-western context; its importance as a centre of social life; its role as an intermediary between state and people; and its emergence in political movements.
  • The change in the role of the family from provider and support system for most people to real or attempted marginalisation by the state.
  • The changing position of women, who have so often been identified with culture and tradition but who have also been the focus of reformers concerned to draw them into participation in the new state.
  • The relationship between identity and the individual; the politics of group identity; the role of the more powerful ‘Other’; the individual and the group; and the emergence of individuals.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be able:

  • To understand the nature of state and society in the non-Western world.
  • To know the meaning of such concepts as power, sovereignty and legitimacy and use them in evaluating this subject.
  • To appreciate how far the state has changed under the impact of modernity.
  • To demonstrate and analyse the way that change has affected religion, the ordering of society, the family and the individual.
  • To recognise that the change has not been complete and a fusion remains between old and new.
  • To identify, define and categorise relevant points to form an argument on a question related to non-Western history


  • Exam (80%)
  • Essay (10%)
  • Reflective journal and forum posts (10%)

Essential reading

  • N. Lowe, Mastering Modern World History [Macmillan, 2001]
  • J.N. Roberts, Twentieth Century: A History of theWorld, 1901-Present [Penguin,1999}
  • J.M. Brown, Modern India: the Origins of an Asian Democracy [OUP, 1994]
  • J. Hunter, The Emergence of Modern Japan: an Introductory History [Longman, 1989]
  • C. Mackerras, China in Transformation, 1900-1949 [Longman, 1998]
  • P. Richardson, Economic Change in China, c. 1800-1950 [CUP, 1999]
  • M.E. Yapp, The Near East since the First World War [Longman, 1999]