HENKF2006U English - Free topic 6: Memories of Empire in Brexit Britain

Volume 2019/2020

 In the immediate aftermath of the 2016 referendum, the notion of a so-called ‘global Britain’ became central to PM Theresa May’s vision of post-Brexit Britain. The Prime Minister outlined Britain’s future as an ambitious nation that looks beyond the continent of Europe to the opportunities of the wider world (May 2016), underlining the imperative for Britain to ‘get out into the world and rediscover its role as a great, global, trading nation’ (May 2017). Her words invoked an unmistakable retrospectivity, implying that Britain lost part of its identity when it joined the EEC in 1973. Similar rhetoric was voiced by other pro-Brexit politicians, most notably Boris Johnson. In an opinion piece for The Telegraph in March 2016, Johnson acknowledged the fact that once outside the EU, Britain would have to negotiate a large number of trade deals. This, however, should not be an impossible task, he reasoned, as ‘We used to run the biggest empire the world has ever seen’ (Johnson 2016).


From a historical perspective, Britain’s evolving relationship with Europe has been accompanied by the persistent rise of a domestic Euroscepticism which centres on the belief that European integration is antithetical to the fundamental beliefs and interests of the United Kingdom.


This course will look at the history of decolonization and end of empire, as well as at Britain’s 40-year-long membership of the EU and examine the different factors within the Eurosceptic debate which are distinctive to the British case.

The course will introduce the students to the critical methods of memory studies, and from this perspective, the course will explore the role that the imperial past plays in contemporary British society, and what this can tell us about British attitudes towards the European Union (Euroscepticism) and the Brexit referendum in 2016.

Classes, with particular emphasis on reading primary and secondary texts, oral discussion and developing proficiency in English.
This course only leads to exams Free Topic 1, Free Topic 2 and Free Topic 3.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 353,5
  • Total
  • 409,5
Type of assessment
Portfolio, A joint portfolio uploaded in digital exam: Deadline June 10th 2020
One presentation + 5 pages, consisting of an abstract and reflection essay (weekly activity/presentations with written material)
Shorter essay consisting of 5 pages (midterm, deadline 31 March 2020)
Free take home paper consisting of 11-15 pages (deadline 10 June 2020)
Criteria for exam assesment