History KS3: Empire

An animation for KS3 history students about the concept of empire, with a brief look at the Roman Empire and the rise and fall of the British Empire.

After defining the term ‘empire’, the film outlines the growth and decline of the Roman Empire. It then describes the rise of the British Empire, the foremost global power for over a century, and how it allowed British influence to spread across the globe. The film outlines different perspectives on the legacy of the British Empire, at home and for peoples enslaved or colonised by it. It describes how the British Empire came to an end after World War Two when Britain gave way to new global superpowers.

Illustrative examples are chosen from popular schemes of learning so that learners can confidently apply their knowledge and appreciate the dynamic nature of the concept being explained. This short film could be used to support learners investigating:

  • Ideas, political power, industry and empire: Britain, 1745-1901
  • The development of the British Empire with a depth study (for example, of India)
  • Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day
  • Indian independence and end of Empire
  • Social, cultural and technological change in post-war British society
  • Britain’s place in the world since 1945
  • The study of an aspect or theme in British history that consolidates and extends pupils’ chronological knowledge from before 1066
  • At least one study of a significant society or issue in world history and its interconnections with other world developments

Teacher Notes

This short film can be used for whole class direct instruction or with smaller groups and individuals.

Since the film is designed to help clarify the meaning of empire, it can be used as a flexible tool to help learners make connections and think about cause and effect, leading to similarity and difference at different times in various parts of the world.

The film can be revisited throughout the key stage, depending upon learners’ differing needs and starting points, to help reinforce the umbrella term, consolidate knowledge and understanding and aid progression

Points for discussion
Students should be encouraged to think about how different types of historical sources are rigorously used to make historical claims and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past are created. Spatial and temporal differences can be explored.

Accompanying films from this series on Industrialisation, Capitalism and Migration might be helpful to students wishing to extend their knowledge.

Specificaly, students could be helped to understand how we know what we know about the British Empire.

The film provides an initial stimulus to help unpick different historians' views on empire, and investigate how they arrive at their interpretations. It also provides an opportunity to consider the views of those who may have been marginalised in the past.

Suggested activities
Individually or in groups, students could predict the film content, drawing up a key word list and, whilst watching, cross check what they thought they would hear with what they learned. This could help correct any preconceptions, assumptions or misconceptions.

Students could watch the film and then ‘write the script’ or provide a voice over, recalling information from memory by way of retrieval practice in a ‘storyboard’ style.

Students could actively watch whilst completing a ‘plus, minus and interesting’ (PMI) table to assess the positive and negative effects of the British Empire.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is relevant for teaching history at KS3 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 3rd Level in Scotland.

More from this series: