This course is designed to be accessible to students who have no background in political theory or British history. The class will explore the changing relationship between British conceptions of liberty and Britain’s expanding empire from the seventeenth century to the present. Liberalism is conventionally understood by historians as a broad commitment to the repudiation of arbitrary power, based on the defense of legal equality, the rule of law, the rights of property, freedom of the press and freedom of conscience. As such, liberal thought has been understood by some as fundamentally anti-imperialistic in impulse; yet others have shown that it could be historically complicit with imperial expansion and colonial rule, and some have even suggested that it was inherently and logically disposed to imperialist domination. This course will attempt to historicize these different claims, examining the complex and changing attitudes of liberals in different times and different places towards the British Empire as a political form.