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History   >   British Empire – India, 1601-1947


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British Empire – India, 1601-1947

This course provides a comprehensive history of British India. After an introduction to the geography, climate, and people of the Indian subcontinent, we explore how a private company, the East India Company, came to administer a whole country. A turning-point came in 1857-8 with the Indian Mutiny (also known as the Sepoy Massacre). In 1858, the Government of India Act transferred administrative control of the country from the Company to the Crown: Victoria was dubbed Empress of India and the following 89 years would become known as the British Raj. Another turning-point was the Amritsar Massacre of 1919. With Britain refusing to loosen her grip on the administrative reins of India, despite the great sacrifice Indians had made on Britain's behalf in the First World War, protests began to break out across the country: the British response was brutal, and in 1919 in Amritsar, 400 peaceful protestors were gunned down in the Jallianwala Bagh public garden. Our next two modules cover the period from 1919 to 1947, looking first at the figure of Mahatma Gandhi, and then at the period more generally. The final module looks at the end of British rule in India, and the reasons behind the Partition of India, a political disaster which resulted in the death of one million people.


In this introductory module, Chris introduces the geography and climate of the Indian subcontinent, both of which have had an impact on its position in global geopolitics. In particular, he notes the importance of the mountainous regions to the North of the subcontinent, compared to the long coastlines on the West and East of the country; he notes also the importance of the great rivers of India, as well as the various religious groups in the country.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Harding, C. (2018, August 15). British Empire – India, 1601-1947 - Introduction [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Harding, C. "British Empire – India, 1601-1947 – Introduction." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,


Dr Christopher Harding

Dr Christopher Harding

Edinburgh University