Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST30X3: South and South-East Asia in the Indian Ocean World until ca.1500CE

Department: History

HIST30X3: South and South-East Asia in the Indian Ocean World until ca.1500CE

Type Open Level 3 Credits 60 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • •A pass mark in at least TWO level two modules in History.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To develop students’ understanding of connections and interactions across the Indian Ocean world.
  • To sensitize students to language choices and different historical approaches to questions of ‘Indianization’ and ‘localization’.
  • To develop students’ ability to analyse a wide range of primary sources, including material evidence, inscriptions, digital databases and other sources.
  • To acquaint students with the distinctive methods, questions, and problems of the history of South and Southeast Asia.
  • To contribute towards meetings the generic aims of Level 3 study in History.


  • Connections between premodern South and Southeast Asia have been described through explanatory frames including ‘Indianization’ and ‘localization.’ This module pushes beyond such frames to explore how our understanding of South Asia and Southeast Asia is transformed when these regions are studied together as part of the Indian Ocean world. To do this, we will analyse primary sources that include inscriptions in Sanskrit from Bangladesh and Cambodia, Old Javanese texts from Java like the kakawin Rāmāyaṇa, and material evidence from Myanmar and Vietnam. Along with these, we will also learn how to use digital databases of inscriptions and images. Together with primary sources, we will also critically read the works of scholars who have used different approaches to understand interactions across South and Southeast Asia. Some of these include questions of language choice as well as convergences in architectural traditions. Throughout the module, we will pay attention to the ways in which pilgrims, rulers, traders, and scholars travelled and interacted across the Indian Ocean. We will seek to understand the histories of South and Southeast Asia both in their convergences as well as in their historical specificities. Ultimately, we will see how placing the histories of premodern South and Southeast Asia in conversation as part of the Indian Ocean world deepens our understanding of the histories of both places.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A thorough understanding of cultural responses to scientific and technological change over the past two centuries.
  • An ability to manipulate a range of primary sources, including scientific writings, visual and object sources, and fiction.
  • A critical attitude toward the relationships between science, technology, and society and the way they appear in both popular and scientific media.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • 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:
  • 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;
  • tutorials either individually or in groups to discuss topics arising from prepared work, allowing students the opportunity to reflect upon their personal learning with the tutor.
  • 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 essays remain a central component of assessment in history, due to the integrative high-order skills they develop. Essays allow students the opportunity to recognise, represent and critically reflect upon ideas, concepts and problems; students can demonstrate awareness of, and the ability to use and evaluate, a diverse range of resources and identify, represent and debate a range of subject-specific issues and opinions. Through the essay, students can synthesise information, adopt critical appraisals and develop reasoned argument based on individual research; they should be able to communicate ideas in writing, with clarity and coherence; and to show the ability to integrate and critically assess material from a wide range of sources;
  • Assessment of Primary Source Handling Students are assessed on their understanding of original primary sources, usually in print, their character varying according to the nature of the subject, and the students' ability to bring that knowledge to bear on 'cutting edge' research-based monographs and articles. Students are given the opportunity to discuss and articulate an understanding of changing interpretations and approaches to historical problems, drawing evidence from a body of primary source materials. Students are required to demonstrate skills associated with the evaluation of a variety of primary source materials, using documentary analysis for a critical assessment of existing historical interpretations.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 19 Weekly Terms 1 & 2 3 hours 57
Revision Sessions 1 Revision 2 hours 2
Preparation and Reading 541
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 maximum of 3000 words, not including scholarly apparatus 34%
Essay 2 maximum of 3000 words, not including scholarly apparatus 34%
Source Analyses maximum of 3000 words, not including scholarly apparatus 32%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seen open book examination 3 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

One formative essay of not more than 2500 words (not including footnotes and bibliography); preparation to participate in seminar and tutorials; at least one oral presentation, and practice source/gobbet work.

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