History of South Asia I

I.     Course Prefix/Number: HIS 203

       Course Name: History of South Asia I

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course surveys the historical development of South Asia from antiquity to independence in 1947. Content includes social, political, and economic developments. Focus is on the role of intellectual currents, literature and art in shaping the identity of the peoples studied, as well as comparisons and contrast of unifying themes such as early modern global networks of trade, the colonial experience, and the role of religion in experiences of various civilizations.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Demonstrate basic knowledge of the natural and political geography of South Asia
  2. Locate and distinguish the countries and major urban and rural areas of South Asia, as well as demonstrate a familiarity with the environment, economy and demographics of the region
  3. Discuss and compare the region’s major religious traditions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam
  4. Demonstrate basic knowledge of the region’s societal and cultural traditions, including the caste system, tribalism, and class and gender roles
  5. Analyze the long-term impact of colonialism on the economic, social, and political development of the South Asia
  6. Explain the rise of religious nationalism (Islamic, Hindu, and Sikh) in the region
  7. Demonstrate an awareness of the cultural themes present in Indian popular culture
  8. Define the impact of cultural and religious traditions on gender roles and civil and human rights in South Asia
  9. Assess the potential impact of climate change on South Asia
  10. Provide historical context to current issues and events in South Asia
  11. Demonstrate analytical thinking in history, and understand how cultural and political imperatives can affect its writing and interpretation

In addition to the above objectives, this course will help students develop the following General Education Competencies that have been established by the College:

  1. Identify, define, analyze, interpret and evaluate: ideas, concepts, information, and their consequences.
  2. Communicate ideas, concepts, and information through written means
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of cultural diversity as it relates to the individual, the community, and the global society

Additionally, this course will help students develop the following Global Studies Program Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify and describe global economic and political systems and their interconnectedness.
  2. Analyze and critique global systems using competing theories of development: modernization and dependency theories, for example.
  3. Identify, locate and describe key aspects of world geography.
  4. Describe, analyze and critique key events, themes and trends in world history and the history of globalization.
  5. Develop in-depth knowledge of a specific area of the world beyond the U.S. or a specific global issue (sustainability, for example).

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. The Ancient & Classical periods of Indian History
  2. The Medieval and Early Modern periods of Indian History
  3. The Colonial Era: the impact and consequences for India
  4. Towards Independence: social and political movements

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Each class will include a variety of instructional methods such as: lectures, in class discussions, group activities, document and film analysis, and the use of new technologies.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Students will be required to:

  1. Read a standard textbook and research materials.
  2. Write outside of class the equivalent of 12 – 14 double-spaced typed pages, in the form of a term paper, summaries of journal articles, short research papers, and/or other kinds of writing.
  3. Participate in in-class and out-of-class activities.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

The most current editions of the following texts are required:

Burton Stein, A History of India, (Oxford, 2006)
ISBN: 0-631-20546-2

E.M. Forster, A Passage to India. (Penguin Group, USA)
ISBN: 13-9780140274233

The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic (Penguin Classics, 2006)
ISBN: 13-978-0143039679

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

In-class quizzes:

Throughout the semester you will be given several short quizzes. The quizzes will evaluate your comprehension of information from lectures, in-class discussions and assigned readings. Students will be provided with a list of terms/concepts identifications that you will need for each quiz. The quiz format will include 3-4 sentence descriptions outlining the historical significance of a term or concept, 10 multiple-choice questions and a short paragraph question. In addition there will be one map quiz. In order to be able to locate and distinguish countries and major urban regions, and their relevance to the history of South Asia, a thorough understanding of the region’s geography is required.


Each student is expected to undertake a short presentation (10 minutes) on a significant Indian intellectual or movement (political/religious/artistic) The presentation may include handouts and multi-media. Dates of student presentations will be arranged in the first week of class.  

Short paper:

The short paper is to be of no more than 4 pages and is to accompany the student presentation. The paper should include at least four primary or secondary sources and should place the individual/movement within his/her/its proper historical context. The short paper is due on the same day as your presentation and is to 12 point, double-spaced text with proper citations.

Final take-home exam:

The final exam questions will be handed out in the sixth week of class. You will have one week to complete the exam. The exam will consist of three essay questions, of which you are to choose and answer two. Each question requires 2-3 pages of writing.  The questions will be based on the readings and in class lecture/discussion.

XI.   Other Course Information

Support Services: Tutoring is available at the Learning Center.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at www.oakton.edu/title9/.

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at www.oakton.edu/lgbtq.

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.