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Student and tutor module reviews

Empire: 1492-1975

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  • Points: 60
  • Code: A326
  • Level: 3
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Student reviews

This was a fantastic course and it is the course which I have both enjoyed the most and been challenged the most by over the last 5 years. There is a lot of reading and a definite step up from OU level 2 to 3 as you would expect, but as long as you are prepared for this there is nothing to fear. The materials available for this course were the best by far and my tutor was so enthusiastic, knowledgeable and supportive. This was hard work, but the sense of satisfaction at the end was well worth all the effort. Everyone is different so this might not be for everyone, but I would certainly recommend it.

Course starting: October 2015

Review posted: August 2016

Fantastic course accompanied by a comprehensive range of materials and resources, supported by a brilliant, enthusiastic tutor. However, be aware that the EMA is worth 50% of the overall mark and there is no right of appeal or willingness on the part of the OU to provide meaningful feedback. Having achieved a distinction for every TMA, my EMA mark dropped by over 30%. I still have no idea where I went wrong. Very disappointing.

Peter Connell

Course starting: October 2015

Review posted: August 2016

There is a lot of reading packed into this module covering a broad range of Empires. I found the section on China to be very interesting. Each TMA was enjoyable to complete; some thought-provoking issues are thrown up from the start and you need to put these into context - we live in very different times today. A great module and well worth doing.

Wendy June Reid

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: June 2016

A good course and certainly one that broadened my understanding of empires and not just the British. There is a lot of reading although some of this is optional and ability to research for TMAs through the OU library is a necessary skill to acquire if not already mastered.

The workload ratchets up markedly as it progresses so do not be fooled by the first few weeks which are quite light! While this course has no exam which reduces the stress in that area, the EMA is very challenging and requires plenty of time to prepare and write.

A brilliant and long suffering tutor who fielded patiently my endless questions.

Not my favourite course but equally by no means my least liked and plenty of others loved it. My grade was good enough to secure the degree classification I wanted.

Charles Edward Hugh Crawfurd

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: August 2014

As a level 3 module I was slightly anxious about starting this module. I thought the topics covered in the module were very interesting but the level of work and what was expected of me as a student was quite worrying.

As I went along the course I found the materials were a lot easier to follow than I thought they would be and very engaging. the wealth of primary sources available for the module was a great benefit and helped me throughout my studies.

Some of the units I did not find so interesting as the others but this is merely a matter of personal preference. I think this course helped me to progress as a history student and gain some valuable skills and knowledge along the way.

Sabera Kara

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: June 2014

Great course. Much better than I anticipated. Really enjoyed it.

It is a great way to learn about modern problems as you follow the great European powers and their quest for expansion. It is full of world conquest, subjugation and hegemony.

One thing that you will learn: wherever there is imperialism, a ruler will always be afoot.

Stuart Clegg

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: November 2013

One of the best OU courses I have had the pleasure of doing. The tutor was extremely helpful and knowledgable. OU support was great as well as there were some minor issues, which were solved very quickly I might add. The structure of the course is manageable and the language used fairly explanatory, not much prior knowledge of the subjects that are addressed is needed although it certainly did help in my case. You will have to get used to using lots of primary sources, and to achieve a good grade lots of wider reading will be required.

I enjoyed this course much more than the A200 and AA312 which I thought was really dry and boring at the worst of times. Although these three modules do compliment each other as they overlap quite nicely at times. Despite A326 being a higher spec course to A200, I recieved much higher marks.

As such with the OU sometimes there doesnt seem to be a standardised process of marking, one tutor was marking my work between 35-55% whilst another 75-80% +, its a shame students have to fall victims to this. This is aired no doubt in almost all student reviews and forums.

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: November 2013

I really enjoyed the majority of this course and the icing on the cake was having an EMA at the end rather than an exam. My tutor used the stick more than the carrot but I feel that the results show that he was right. I got the best mark so far (mainly, I think, because even I can't read my writing after three hours). Having said that some people did not get on with this module.

Neal Robert Grace

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: September 2013

A moderately interesting course that helps highlight some personal experience of how empires affected general people. The most useful part of A326 was how to apply reference material, rather than any facts presented. A326 does require a lot of reading and the marking was brutal.

Seems there was a lot of disappointment from the EMA and no interest from the OU to looking into this. Expect to be left frustrated by a mediocre course and result, including only a brief taste into most of the empires presented.

Mark Woodger

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: September 2013

This was my first L3 module and my first History course. My interest in empire was triggered following my previous L2 course 'Worlds of English'. Initially after attending the first tutorial I felt seriously out of my depth, due to all the historical knowledge of my fellow students. However, this module is not about dates, times, battles, etc and may have more for social science students.

After providing the toolkit for analysis in the first few chapters and a brief historiography of European empires, the focus altered to the experience of empire, i.e. social and cultural aspects, which I found fascinating. The course books were excellent but were only half of the learning materials. Your printer will work overtime printing thousands of pages of primary and secondary source documents which complement the OU texts, but you can download them onto techy gadgets - I prefer to read hard copy.

There is a choice of two TMA questions which I had not previously encountered, and I liked the fact that if one didn't suit, you could tackle the other. The ECA question is issued at the outset, so you can plan for this as you go along. I opted for one at the beginning, but altered my choice just two weeks before the due date - seriously focussed the mind!

The course forum was lively; at times rather combative, occasionally brutal. It would appear that history students are highly opinionated individuals, and I found this an interesting study in itself.

The module largely concentrates on the British empire, but Chinese, Russian and other European empires also feature to varying degrees. I enjoyed this module and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the influence that one dominate society can exert over another. Military, economic, political and cultural effects were examined and assessed in isolation as well as the interaction between them.

Whilst this wasn't my favourite module, I do not regret studying it, and was delighted when I gained a distinction. It continues the debate "empire:good or bad?" Nothing is ever that clear cut.

Tracey Atmore

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

I enjoyed this course and felt that I learned a lot. There was plenty of information to take in and I felt my brain was being stretched. I caught a bad cough for the last two TMAs which affected my score, but I would recommend to anyone who has an interest in all modern empires.

Mary Breading

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: July 2013

A nice, logically structured course with a fair choice of unambiguous TMA questions. Starts slightly technically in providing students with "tools to study empires" and an overview of types of colony etc. You can end up wondering what you've let yourself in for, however this toolkit of sorts is very handy downstream for analysing and also describing what you are learning in far more succinct ways.

Once into the swing of things it goes along quite well. I found myself drawn into the direct accounts of experiences of empire, especially as the course began to involve elements of social history (empire as those at the bottom - often victims - experienced it) and having to be reminded to "engage with the historiography" (what other people write about empires, basically).

So it becomes increasingly important to remember that distanced contemporary expert opinion is still relevant. The closing section of the course also covers the closing of the age of empires, so there can be a sense of anticlimax as the course moves to its end point (especially when reading what seems to be an interminable amount about the situation in India when it was obvious that empire was over, but the post-imperial shape of the country was still being determined). It became important for me to remain engaged with the material and not let up my concentration in this atmosphere of "it's all over"!

The structure worked well for me, and my tutor was very helpful on the few occasions I raised a question. To date this has been the best course I've done at the OU. I'd come to the course with no real grasp on history (hadn't even done a relevant 2nd level OU course) and my result was as good as other course I'd thought were easier, and the credit has to be due to the materials and the tutor alike.

The one caveat I would add is that there is a lot of what I called "off-page" reading. The course materials are half the story, and for most weeks there are documents (PDF, Word) linked to from the course site that are required primary and secondary sources. Some weeks can involve a great deal of reading from these other files.

By and large, though, the course was very pleasing and very much illuminated my sketchy view of imperial history.

Richard Blake-Reed

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: March 2013

I found this course really hard! Of course, a Level 3 is going to contain a lot of reading and effort but I found the amount of reading to be really heavy and also because it attempts to cover so much (in my opinion too much) ground relating to empire, it hindered my ability to take time to enjoy learning about anything new.

Personally I think, yes, it is important to recognise that empire is 'not all about Britain' but it would have been nice to have had the option to pick specific empires and look at them closely, rather than trying to learn almost everything about all empires!

If I can offer any advice to a new student of this course I would suggest to read the TMA question (one at a time) and then select as best as possible which chapters of the block will help support your answer. I'm sure the OU would warn that this is not how to attempt a course but for those of us who work full-time and are desperate to pass a course that will enable us to better our career chances whilst learning about subjects which (we hope) will excite us and encourage us to learn more, this was definitely for me, the only option.

Alison Devismes

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: October 2012

Thoroughly enjoyable module with a manageable workload - considerably less than that of AA312. Certainly possible to be selective but ... I think ... most will want to read everything - and more! I guess it is 'easier' if one concurs with the view that all empire is always 'bad' and that 'non-conformist' or non-Marxist historians (personified by Ferguson) have little to offer - but I do not - which made TMAs all the more thought provoking and challenging! After AA312 I did not expect any other module to be quite as engaging. Congratulations (again) to the OU (and 'Course Team') for a another great, and highly recommended, experience.

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: September 2012

Its quite a good course. I have never studied history before and this was my first history course. It has definitely broadened my understanding of Empires and how they work, The British and European empires and their involvements in various colonies worldwide. It's definitely a course worth doing if you have an interest in world history.

A book that is worth reading in order to prepare for this course as well as any history course of OU, Arthur Marwick's The Nature of History. Marwick was a retired professsor from OU but his book really did help me grasp A326 better. Its definitely an enjoyable course.

Mohammed Mohsin

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: August 2012

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

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