The British Empire

Students will develop their knowledge and understanding of what it means to have an empire and why Britain wanted one. They will also discover what effect the British Empire had on other countries around the world and why there were different experiences of empire. By looking at why the empire declined and the legacies that still exist today, students will be able to understand why the British Empire is still seen as a controversial topic.


By the end of this unit it is expected that all students will: Be able to describe the key features of the British Empire, give reasons for why Britain wanted an empire and describe some of the things it gained from its empire. Students will be able to recognise that people have different views on the British Empire and begin to explain why this may be so.

Most students will: Be able to explain how and why the British Empire expanded, the effect the British Empire had on its colonies and how the empire helped Britain become great! Students will be expected to recognise the diversity of peoples’ experiences within the British Empire.

Some learners will have progressed further and will: Be able to identify a number of reasons why colonies increasingly demanded independence and to explain the links between them. To explain the consequences of the British Empire and how it has been portrayed by analysing a number of contemporary sources. Students will be able to explain why people have different attitudes towards the British Empire and the reasons behind this.

Key Assessments

Students will be assessed through a written exercise at the end of the topic. The question will enable students to explore why the British Empire is so controversial and allow them to offer their own opinion while giving specific examples to support their argument.

Extended homework tasks

Students will be asked to examine a country within the British Empire in depth and to describe and explain the effect that the British Empire had on that country. Students will be expected to draw on their knowledge from lessons and undertake independent research in order to give an oral presentation in class to their peers.

How to help your child

Students and their parents can discuss why the British Empire has and still does cause a lot of controversy amongst historians. Parents can help their children to see both sides of the debate in order to help them to formulate an argument in their mind. They could also help their child prepare for their oral presentation by listening to them practicing and by offering suggestions to improve. 

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