| Department of History

B.A. (Research) in History

The total credit requirements of the B.A (Research) in History are here broken-up semester-wise providing a model for how students should distribute their credits across semesters. The actual semester-wise breakup may vary from an individual to individual and should be worked out in consultation with the Undergraduate Advisor of the Department.

Total Credits


Core Credits


Major Electives


CCC + UWE credits

Core & Elective Courses

Core Courses

Core courses provide the critical foundations to the undergraduate programme in History Major at SNU.

Core courses are taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials and introduce students to broader themes and subject areas and to the major disciplinary approaches in history and archaeology respectively.

Core courses have no prerequisites and students opting for a major in history are required to take 10 core courses (40 credits) from our course catalogue.

The department offers a wide selection of core course options and the course offerings will depend on faculty and student interest. Present options include Early Historic South Asia, Visual Histories and Archaeological Practices, and Fasting and Feasting: Global Histories of Food.

Course code
Introduction to Archaeology

Archaeology today has become a key discipline that helps understand past human activity. This course will introduce students to what archaeologists do and how this discipline evolved as central to the quest of understanding humanity’s and our planet’s past. The course will engage with a broad sweep of theories, methods, technologies and practices employed by archaeologists. Student learning will be interactive, through regular tutorial discussions and occasional field trips, besides peer interactions. Various forms of assessment will be used to evaluate student learning

*This course is compulsory towards the completion of a Minor in History/Archaeology

Does History Matter?

This course aims to be a foundational one for UG students, who are interested in rethinking/reviewing the commonsensical understanding of history as a discipline that school text books offer. It aims to expose the students to the sources, methodologies and questions of History, as it is practiced in South Asia and globally in order to help them engage critically with history’s claims to truth about the past.

* This is a compulsory course towards the completion of a minor in History/Archaeology

Early Historic South Asia

This course charts the slow transition, rise and spread of cities and states in early historic South Asia. Beginning from c.1500 BCE and extending into the early centuries CE, it shows how the development of urban civilization was marked by a host of interconnected factors: the rise of monarchies, the development of trading networks, the emergence of writing, and the spread of religious groups. By bringing together analyses of textual and archaeological data, it aims to shed light on this complex and dynamic period in the subcontinent's past.

Bronze Age Civilizations

What is the meaning of the Bronze Age? What role did the civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt play in enabling some of the most significant developments in human societies? This course begins with the discovery of these civilizations, plots their development over time, and discusses how they may be understood both through written as well as archaeological material. 

Archaeology of South Asia

The earliest occupations in the subcontinent, in the absence of writing, can only be reconstructed on the basis of material remains, which is the purview of archaeology. Yet, archaeology also helps us to understand later periods when there are written sources. This course, through a study of the material remains of the past, will take the student from roughly the 8th millennium BCE to the 16th century CE. This will enable us to understand how the histories of ordinary people can be constructed through their everyday objects.

Ancient Indian Social History

The study of social history represents an exciting arena in understanding India's ancient past. This course seeks to introduce students to the field, focusing in particular on issues of gender, class and caste. In the place of glorified pictures of the ancient past, such studies allow us to glimpse an ancient world peopled by men, women and their concerns, mediated by ideologies and social groupings. Emphasis will also be placed on questions of methodology, showing how an integrated study of texts, inscriptions and material culture can help us understand the complexities and contradictions of ancient societies, removed from us in time.

Introducing the 'Early Modern' 1300 - 1761 CE

The historiography of the Early Modern allows us to see the heuristic value of adopting a trans-national perspective in our studies of regional histories. The term alludes to a new sense of the limits of the inhabited world, and relates to the histories of the period between 1450 CE and 1800 CE, when maritime explorations, mapping and reporting produced extensive knowledge about the global geography. We see the emergence of a truly global economy, in which long distance commerce connected expanding economies on all continents, developments of new technologies occasioned new organizational responses to their effects, population increased significantly, intensification of uses of land led to establishment of settler frontiers, and large and powerful states and dynamic imperial systems mobilized new resources. Through histories of the kingdoms of Vijayanagara, regional states in the Deccan and prominently the Mughal Empire, the course will examine the significant contributions of South Asia within the early modern world economies, and explore the implications of this model for the study of South Asia. It shall focus prominently upon cultural histories for emphasizing the connections between South Asia and the World. 

Establishment of British Power in South Asia, 1757 - 1857

This course offers students an opportunity to understand the early origins of the British empire in South Asia. We will study how the English East India Company, a joint stock mercantile concern established in 1600 in London, became invested incommerce as well as governance in the Indian subcontinent. Thus, the course examines the Company’s fiscal involvements, political and military expansion, as well as its ideological underpinnings in theeighteenth century.

Detailed Syllabus 

Unit 1Merchants, Commerce, Governance
Unit 2 Regions, Conquest, Expansion
Unit 3 Ideology and Empire
Unit 4 Rebellion and Resistance

Social Change in South Asia

The period since 1860 has been a time of deep-seated and persistent social change in South Asian society, as a result of the imposition of colonial rule. This course introduces students to the literature on modern South Asian history with an emphasis on the diversity of approaches that characterize the historiography of the region, from political history to subaltern studies and studies of culture and economic development. Topics will include, the idea of the Indian nation; peasant protests, famine and poverty; life in urban cities; changes in the lives of women; science, medicine and technology; the construction of crime and social deviance. 

Contemporary India 1947-1991

This course looks at the major developments in contemporary India in terms of new forces and issues that are unleashed as a logical corollary of India gaining independence. It will thus examine in the historical context the major developments that have shaped the Indian sub-continent post the independence, namely the framing of the constitution, the major strands of political   and economic processes that have shaped the contexts, the events in 1962 (China), the ‘green revolution’, 1975 (emergency) and the decade of 80s that terminated in the momentous year of 1991 where a new set of forces strove to shape the contours of the subcontinent. The course will be discussion oriented with audio visual material as an aid along with specific readings.

Histories of Archaeology in South Asia

An understanding of the histories of archaeological scholarship and practices is crucial for developing the skills of historical methodology and archaeological knowledge. The histories provide critical insights into the many traditions of historiography, and demonstrate the reasons for nurturing a trans-regional and trans-national perspective while writing regional histories. Through histories of antiquarian scholarship and archaeological fieldwork, this paper shall map the many ways in which we can historicize the early archaeological scholarship of India. It shall explore the manner in which the British developed and used archaeology in India, and the disciplinary developments that followed in the early decades of Indian independence. The lecture topics shall create a sense of the unequal encounters of the politics of imperialism, relationships between power and knowledge, uses and abuses of histories of origins, and creations of heritage and legacies. The course shall thereby also attend to issues of ethics.

Field Methods in Archaeology

Archaeological field work is known to be intrusive. It makes it imperative that we keep this in mind while planning, designing, executing and publishing data gathered from archaeological sites. This course is designed for students who are interested in learning the methods used in archaeology, in other words, an initiation to field archaeology methods. The course is hands-on and uses activities both within and outside the classroom in order to give students a basic understanding of archaeological fieldwork. The course does not include archaeological theory and is not designed to be an introduction to archaeology, rather as suggested by the title explores how and what different techniques are used by archaeologists.
Aims of the course
The aim of this course is to give a broad understanding of archaeological field techniques and methods, their aims and limitations, and to provide some practical experience.
Objectives of the course
1. An overview of the methodological issues surrounding archaeological fieldwork.
2. An understanding of survey techniques including desk-top, aerial, geophysical walk-over and collection.
4. An understanding of the process of designing a project from initial survey to final publication.


Histories of the Art and Architecture of South Asia

Course description not available.

Elective Courses

Elective courses are specialized courses designed and taught by research faculty.

The class sizes for departmental electives are small, allowing the instructor to work closely with students to impart specialised subject training in either historical or archaeological methods, and may include the opportunity to work with primary materials.

The departmental offerings reflect the research expertise of the faculty and many of our courses embrace themes and methodological approaches that are on the cutting-edge of research today. Elective courses require departmental prerequisites and students interested in taking an elective course option are advised to consult the course catalogue to ensure they satisfy the prerequisite requirements.

A Majors student is required to take 11 elective courses (44 credits). Majors students also have to work on an Undergraduate Dissertation (12 credits) in their final two semesters. 


Course code
Archaeology of Cities

This course focuses on understanding urbanism and urban settlements in the third millennium in Mesopotamia, Egypt and South Asia. The intention is to introduce the students to early urban developments and enable students to analyze urbanization, the physical and social forms of urban centres, as well as the functions of varying urban spaces.

Archaeology and Death

Course description not available.

Resources, conflict and the state

Course description not available.

Pastoral nomads and the state

Course description not available.

Curating Cultures: Collections, Museums and Practices

What functions do museums serve in the modern world? Why is it important to examine curatorial practices? How might one do archaeology, and anthropology, in and of museums? How do museums generate and consolidate theories of material culture and cultural differences? And, how have museums within the post-colonial worlds changed or responded to shifting political and economic movements, and accommodated source communities. These are some of the questions, which the course shall address while exploring the histories of museums and their collections of antiquities within India. Through specific examples it shall also review the making of local and national collections, the distinctions between public museums and others, and inform of best practices: of collections management, conservation and curation. Devised as a practical and theoretical approach to museum studies, the course shall illustrate the importance of museums and their curation, and collections, within the archaeological scholarship.

Histories of writing

Course description not available.

Orientalism, Culture and Imperialism

Our seminar explores the cultural production, consumption and circulation of the western scholarship relating to the Orient that characterise European overseas expansion in the modern era. The course takes at its basis Edward Said’s foundational text, Orientalism: Western Perceptions of the Orient (1978) and his seminal assertion that European political domination of the Orient and the knowledge relating to its land, peoples, and cultures were interdependent. The present seminar will examine various forms of knowledge production and their varied uses within the colonised world, stressing the core themes of the use of technology; the construction of imperial identities and their modes of representations; and, the appropriation of and resistance to these formulations. The topics covered include: anthropology, criminology and law; mapping, cartography and census enumeration; science and medicine; philology; museums displays and exhibitions; and nationalist discourse. The reading material relates to British imperial expansion in South Asia. Students are encouraged to read outside of the suggested texts, and if appropriate, place the discussion in a wider geo-political framework. 

Diagnosing Difference: Health And Mental Illness In An Age Of Empire

Franz Fanon (1925-1961) was a psychiatrist who practiced in Algeria during the anti colonial war of resistance against France. His writings bear testimony to the deep psychological impact that colonialism had both on the colonized and the colonizer. In this course we will start with his essay titled “Medicine and Colonialism” in Dying Colonialism to focus on his treatment of the difference between the imperial metropolis and the colonial periphery, and their ramifications on the body and the psyche of the colonized. We shall study how historical literature on medicine has treated this difference. These texts will help us think how race, gender and class emerged as sites of articulating difference through the representation of imperial medical concerns in the African continent and South Asian subcontinent. The course will create an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between the history of medical knowledge formation and the constitution of imperial bodies in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

South Asia in Historiography

This course will build on students’ knowledge of the practice of history of South Asia by introducing the debates, methodologies and theoretical approaches that articulate historical concerns. Each week the course will focus on key works, and study how they speak to the wider historical and theoretical debates and approaches represented by the Annales School, Historical Sociology, Micro-history, The Cultural Turn, Gender history, Subaltern Studies, Post-Colonial Studies, the history of the Senses, and Oral history.

The Anthropology and History of Experts and Expertise

We live today in a world where we are increasingly understanding ourselves through what we do. That is, by the kind of knowledge we produce and expertise we possess. Indeed, it would not be too much of a stretch to suggest that the most important question we ask today of people immediately after introducing ourselves is “what do you do?” While this question can be seen as an innocuous form of conversation making, it also is a form of self-identification and valuation through which we make sense of ourselves, others as well as the world around us.

This class attempts to unpack how the disciplines of History and Anthropology have studied who is an expert? What is expertise? What kinds of value/signification is placed on expertise and experts within larger questions of nationhood, economy, colonial and postcolonial statecraft?? We shall also look at what kinds of images of social reality do experts and expertise provide. And how does this, in turn, fashion /forge both expertise and expert communitarian formations.

The Opium Question: Writings on the opium wars (1839-1860)

Course description not available.

UG dissertation I

Course description not available.

UG dissertation II

Course description not available.