ATS3908 - American empire: The United States from colonies to superpower - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit



Dr Josh Specht

Not offered in 2017


This unit examines the history of the US in the world, asking how a federation of former colonies on the eastern seaboard became a continental and then international power. It examines the linkages between continental expansion in the nineteenth century and expansion abroad in the twentieth, and investigates the extent to which this expansion was justified in terms of race and gender. A major theme of this unit is empire. Does this term apply to the history of American expansion? Why have Americans been so resistant to the idea that they have forged an empire? We also examine concepts such as manifest destiny, national exceptionalism and Americanisation.


On successful completion of this unit student will:

  1. Have a good understanding of the US foreign relations from the nineteenth century to mid twentieth century
  2. Have an understanding of the importance of race and gender in shaping American interactions with other peoples and nations.
  3. Have an understanding of the different factors which shape foreign policy and imperial projects.
  4. Have an understanding of the importance of culture - including popular culture - to historical research
  5. Be familiar with the research skills and methods of cultural, political and diplomatic historians.
  6. Have experience in working with a range of textual, visual and material historical resources
  7. Have further developed their oral and written communication skills
  8. Have improved their ability to conduct historical research independently.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Twelve credit points of second-year Arts units.