Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST20T1: Rice, Race, Religion and Revolt in Colonial Myanmar

Department: History

HIST20T1: Rice, Race, Religion and Revolt in Colonial Myanmar

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap 50 Location Durham


  • • A pass mark in at least ONE level 1 module in History


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To familiarize students with the history of colonial Myanmar and, more widely, the social tensions of modern imperialism in Asia
  • To introduce the students to colonial-era primary sources from Myanmar and provide a critical methodology for interpreting them, particularly counter-insurgency records.
  • To introduce the students to the historiography debating the impact on British imperialism on Myanmar as well as wider social theories of peasant rebellions.


  • In 1930 the British colonial regime in Myanmar (Burma) confronted a peasant rebellion—known today as the Hsaya San rebellion, after its nominal leader—the scale of which it had not faced since the 1857 Uprising in northern India. During 1931, nearly every district of the colony descended into open revolt, during which the state’s authority was momentarily untenable. It took over 10,000 imperial troops, the estimated deaths of 3,000 rebels, and the capture of roughly 9,000 more, to quell the rebellion in 1932. Historians have applied a range of lenses to understand the event. Some have explored its economic triggers, others the role of Buddhist folk beliefs, and others still the influence of anti-colonial nationalist activism. More recently, historians have critiqued the historiography on the rebellion itself, questioning the archival foundation for even our most basic understandings of what happened and why. During this module, we will use the rebellion as an entry point to examine the profound changes that colonialism wrought and the resulting tensions that culminated in this violent uprising. In particular, we will trace the emergence of the rice industry, and the rise of xenophobic racism and religious chauvinism within anticolonial resistance.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge and understanding of historical developments of the political economy of colonialism in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.
  • Critical engagement with previous and current theoretical and historiographical debates on the history of colonialism and anticolonialism.
  • Critical use of historiographical and primary sources to develop independent lines of analysis on the history of peasant rebellions.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will develop their skills to evaluate archival sources, particularly government records.
  • Students will develop their skills to evaluate and analyse historiographical debates
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/History/ugrads/ModuleProformaMap/
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/History/ugrads/ModuleProformaMap/

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Student learning is facilitated by a combination of the following teaching methods:
  • lectures to set the foundations for further study and to provide the basis for the acquisition of subject specific knowledge. Lectures provide a broad framework which defines individual module content, introducing students to themes, debates and interpretations. In this environment, students are given the opportunity to develop skills in listening, selective note-taking and reflection;
  • seminars to allow students to present and critically reflect upon the acquired subject-specific knowledge, methodologies and theories, and to identify and debate a range of issues and differing opinions. The seminar is the forum in which students are given the opportunity to communicate ideas, jointly exploring themes and arguments. Seminars are structured to develop understanding and designed to maximise student participation related to prior independent preparation. Seminars give students the opportunity to develop oral communication skills, encourage critical and tolerant approaches to reasoned argument and historical discussion, build the students' ability to marshal historical evidence, and facilitate the development of the ability to summarise historical arguments, think in a rapidly changing environment and communicate in a persuasive and articulate manner, whilst recognising the value of working with others and, occasionally, towards shared goals.
  • Assessment:
  • Examinations test students' ability to work under pressure, to prepare for examinations and direct their own programme of revision and learning, and develop key time management skills.
  • The examination gives students the opportunity to develop relevant life skills such as the ability to produce coherent, reasoned and supported arguments under pressure. Students will be examined on subject specific knowledge;
  • Summative coursework will test students’ ability to communicate ideas in writing, present clear and cogent arguments succinctly and show appropriate critical skills as relevant to the particular module.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 17 16 in Term 2, 1 in Term 3 1 hour 17
Seminars 7 7 in Term 2 1 hour 7
Preparation and reading 176
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seen open book examination 2 hours 100%
Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Coursework assessment consisting of a short essay (max. 2,000 words) or assignment of equivalent length e.g. source commentaries 2,000 words excluding footnotes and bibliography. 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative work done in preparation for and during seminars, including oral and written work as appropriate to the module. The summative coursework will have a formative element by allowing students to develop ideas and arguments for the examination and to practice writing to similar word limits.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University