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European Empires: An Introduction, 1400–1522

Gain insights into the major events and people that shaped Europe’s first modern colonial empires

5,937 enrolled on this course

Christopher Columbus is depicted landing in the West Indies, John Vanderlyn, 1847

European Empires: An Introduction, 1400–1522

5,937 enrolled on this course

  • 3 weeks

  • 2 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Open level

Find out more about how to join this course

This course is part of the program Europe and the World, which is one of the building blocks that leads to a degree in Bachelor of Arts. Find out more.

Learn about European empires and Europe’s history of expansion

It’s the encounters that occurred beyond European borders that shaped Europe itself.

You will become familiar with the origins and nature of European interactions with the lands and people beyond its borders. This includes investigating the discovery of a westward route to the Americas and the building of states, nations and empires.

This online course will focus on primary sources and introduce you to some of the key events, issues and themes of European history that still resonate today.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 1 second How did Europe establish its vast global empires? Who made the greatest contribution to how we understand geography and ocean navigation? And how did a civilisation as advanced as the as Aztecs fall to Spanish invasion? I’m Dr. Sasha Davis, a historian of Central Europe based at the University of Newcastle, Australia. I’ll be your guide as we uncover the foundations of Europe’s empires. We’ll discover along the way the happenstances, the social and economic conditions and the tenacious individuals that made European Empire Building possible in the early modern period. Lastly, I’ll reveal the voices of the people that opposed European conquest and the fallout of European invasion and expansion for indigenous peoples. I look forward to seeing you on FutureLearn.

What topics will you cover?

The course offers an introduction to key events in modern European history, analysing European imperialism through a variety of themes including violence, colonialism, and economic and cultural exchange.

The course is three weeks long and is organised chronologically:

  • Week 1 – The Rise of Europe. We trace Europe’s rise from a comparatively insular and isolated continent in the Middle Ages to the very beginnings of its colonial empires in the early modern period.
  • Week 2 – Global Exploration. We take a closer look at the extensive overseas exploration of Portugal and Spain.
  • Week 3 – The Conquest of Latin America. We examine in detail the invasion of the Aztec Empire. We consider the views of Europeans and First Peoples in our discussion.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify the main themes of Europe's encounters and interactions with the wider world.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the complexities of European empires through discussion and debate.
  • Evaluate relevant primary and secondary sources in European imperial history.

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone looking to improve their knowledge of European history or their historical skills.

Who will you learn with?

Hi, I'm Sacha Davis. I'm a lecturer in modern European history at UON. My own research focuses on Central Europe, minorities and the nation-state.

I look forward to getting to know you in this course!

Who developed the course?

The University of Newcastle Australia

The University of Newcastle is a world-class university distinguished by a commitment to equity and excellence. Ranked in Australia’s Top 10 universities, and 173rd in the world (QS rankings, 2024).

  • Established

    1965
  • Location

    Newcastle, Australia
  • World ranking

    Top 180Source: QS World University Rankings 2024

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$89/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access

Free

Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 15 Jul 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

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  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
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  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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Since 2017 you have been able to take a degree on FutureLearn. This free course is a bit like a starter course for a degree — it should give you a flavour of the degree subject but can also be your first step towards a degree qualification.

If you enjoy this course you can apply to join the program it’s part of to start working towards a degree on FutureLearn.

Don’t worry, you can still take the course without doing a full degree!

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This course is part of the program Europe and the World, which is one of the building blocks that leads to a degree in Bachelor of Arts.

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