HIST398-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

An Environmental History of Ancient to Modern India: Elephants and Empires

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


This course emphasises the human/animal relationship as a primary factor in the environmental history of India. It focusses particularly on the environmental factors of disease, climate and health among both humans and animals in the shaping of India's history from ancient to modern times.

An exciting new course exploring the relationships between humans and animals in making India’s history.

The overall aim of the course it to provide students with a fascinating and challenging introduction to the ecological history of India, particularly the role of the human/animal relationship in shaping India’s history, and to develop skills needed for further historical study, further inter-disciplinary research into environmental, human/animal and ecological history and transfer into the work environment.

Image: Elephant and mahout from the Princely States on parade as part of the Delhi Durbar, 1903. (British Library)

Learning Outcomes

  • On successful completion of the course students will be able to:
  • Communicate insights into the historiography of environmental change in India and relate India’s history to other global historiographical work.
  • Discuss the contribution of human/animal relationships in the development of political structures including empires, kingdoms and colonies in India
  • Discuss class and caste as factors affecting human experience of and engagement with the Indian environment.
  • Discuss the human/animal relationship as fundamental to the construction of caste and class hierarchy in Indian history.
  • Analyse and discuss appropriate primary and secondary sources, including historiographical debates.
  • Demonstrate historical insights into Indian environmental history in both written and oral form.
    The student will also have developed Generic/Transferable Skills including:
  • The ability to analyse complex material from a variety of sources and to communicate the results verbally and in written form.
  • The ability to both follow instruction and to work independently
  • The ability to engage appropriately with a range of people in small group discussion
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.

      Engaged with the community

      Students will have observed and understood a culture within a community by reflecting on their own performance and experiences within that community.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Any 30 points at 200 level from HIST, or
any 60 points at 200 level from the Schedule V of the BA.


Course Coordinator

Jane Buckingham


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Essay 1 20% First essay - 1,500 words
Essay 2 25% Second essay - 2,500 words
Oral presentation 5% Tutorial contribution 5 minute oral presentation
Final Exam 50% 3 hours

Please check the course Learn page for further details and updates.

Textbooks / Resources

Course Text: Fisher, Michael H. An Environmental History of India: From Earliest Times to the Twenty-First Century. New Approaches to Asian History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,641.00

International fee $7,500.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities .

All HIST398 Occurrences

  • HIST398-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023