How will these resources help you? 

This topic can be studied within the context of the British empire and migration. The story of the British empire is controversial and complex. The relationship between India and Britain was the most important within the empire – without India there would have been no empire – so it is vital for students to gain an understanding of what happened. These resources are a good place to start. 

India before the British

India before the British Conquest

by Shrinidhi Rao, published by India Facts, (2016)

The second half of this article gives a brief overview of India’s people and society, education and industries before the British arrived, based on first-hand, neutral accounts. It often helps to start with a positive image of the sub-continent so that stereotypes and assumptions can be challenged immediately. The long quotation at the end of the article gives a summary of the thriving India that the British found. Interested students could use it as a starting point for an in-depth study on one of the various Indian empires, for example the Mughal Empire. They could look at presenting the achievements of the Mughal Empire, including the geographical information, history, trade, languages, religion, etc. in an infographic or a presentation to the class. 

Timeline of the British in India

The British India timeline

published by SoftSchools.com

This useful timeline provides an excellent summary of the major events during the British imperial presence in India. Students could find pictures, quotes, and interesting facts to expand the timeline. They could also develop it into a film or interactive game. Interactive timelines are an excellent way to revise at a later date. 

India’s Importance for Britain

What was the importance of India to the British Empire?

by Peter Crowhurst

Crowhurst’s article explains Britain’s motives for being in India. Students could list all the resources and economic benefits of India to Britain, then create an infographic on the importance of India to the British. For more, the following video clip shows the importance of Indian soldiers to the British – Indian soldiers played a key role in fighting for Britain, including in the world wars of 1914–18 and 1939–45: ‘Why was India so valuable to the British Empire?’, from the BBC series ‘Empire’, published by BBC Teach in 2020.

Britain and India’s shared history

India & Britain: Over four centuries of shared heritage

by Kusoom Vadgama, published by Austin Macauley, (2019), 9781528902243

This book sets out the relationship between India and Britain and its importance to both countries. Students could create posters that highlight the benefits to Britain and the benefits to India and/or write an argumentative essay with the title: ‘Which country benefited more from the colonial relationship between India and Britain?’

Audiovisual clip

A Timewatch Guide - The partition of India

published by BBC, (2017)

David Olusoga investigates the consequences of India's partition by the British empire.

Further Materials

The British in India: Three Centuries of Ambition and Experience by David Gilmour, published by Penguin, (2019), 9780141979212 Find this book
India: A History (revised and updated) by John Keay, published by Grove Press, (2011), 9780802145581 Find this book
The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company by William Dalrymple, published by Bloomsbury, (2020), 9781408864395 Find this book
Christopher Terry is a former Head Teacher and former academic lead for Teaching and Learning in various British and International Schools, and he has been a teacher of History for 15 years. He works as an examiner and also delivers ITT History Teacher Training in the North West of England and Internationally. He also has been a specialist advisor to OFQUAL for History and has been recognised by the Historical Association as an outstanding practitioner. 

Text © Christopher Terry, 2021.