HSTAFM 162 A: History of the Islamic World, Fifteenth-Eighteenth Centuries

Summer 2022 Full-term
to be arranged / * *
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):


History of the Islamic World: 1453 - 1800



In this course we will examine the history of the Islamic World during the Early Modern period. This era is sometimes called the 'Age of Gunpowder Empires,’ because it was marked by the rise of three mighty and advanced Islamic states in Turkey, Iran and India

We will consider the period from three perspectives.

First, we will dig into the history of the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal Empires themselves—tracking their fates across the span of 350 years, from the fall of Constantinople in 1453, through the emergence of modern European imperialism at the end of the eighteenth century. 

Second, our course will move beyond the high-politics of great empires to examine the richer tapestry of Islamic society and culture. As part of this process, we will engage with a range of primary sources that will serve to humanize this history—reminding us that, at core, history is not about states and wars, but about people.

Finally, as we look at Islamic empires and societies, we will also consider how the Islamic world of this period both shaped, and was shaped by, the contours of global history, and at how this period in history still resonates in our modern world today.



This course was developed in conjunction with UW Continuum College, as a 'born digital' distance-learning option. As such, it is entirely asynchronous. Lectures will be recorded, and students will participate in asynchronous engagement via online activities and discussion boards. It is expected that students keep up on a week-by-week basis, but there are no fixed days or times when participation is required. 

Textbook: Stephen Dale, Muslim Empires of the Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals (2010).

Additional readings made available via Canvas.

Optional W credit available.



  • Nine weekly lessons, containing a mix of videos and online activities
  • Approximately 80 pages reading per lesson
  • Brief weekly knowledge-check quizzes
  • Participation grade based on discussions and occasional online activities
  • One term paper (approximately 1500 words, no independent research)
  • Two exams









Catalog Description:
Examines the history of the Islamic World during the age of mighty empires in Turkey, Persia, and South Asia. Highlights the powerful rulers, vibrant cultures, and human achievements of these states, while also exploring the region's ethnic, linguistic, religious, and sectarian diversity and conflicts. Uses political, social and cultural approaches to engage both the broad sweep and the personal stories of this history. Offered: S.
GE Requirements Met:
Diversity (DIV)
Social Sciences (SSc)
Last updated:
July 12, 2024 - 7:11 am