HIS31860 Slavery and the New World

Academic Year 2020/2021

It is estimated that between the mid-fifteenth century and towards the end of the nineteenth century, more than 12 million people from Africa were enslaved and forcefully transported to the Americas. Of these 12 million, it is believed that approximately 11 million Africans survived often terrible and harrowing Atlantic voyages. Such was the scale of the Atlantic slave trade that until the 1820s more Africans crossed the Atlantic than Europeans. The produce of enslaved labour in the form of tobacco, rice, sugar and cotton transformed European economies and habits and arguably laid the basis for globalised capitalism. All major European maritime powers were involved in the slave while more than 90% of slaves shipped across the Atlantic were supplied by African traders. Many key features of the modern world have roots which can be traced to slavery: demography of the Americas; poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and food-ways of the world. While this module will examine early modern and modern slavery from its Portuguese beginnings down to its final abolition in Brazil in 1888, it will concentrate in particular on slavery in Britain’s seventeenth-century Atlantic territories and colonial America in the eighteenth century.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Students taking this module will acquire an indepth knowledge of current debates and scholarship in the field of slavery and the new world from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. They will be introduced to topical historiographical discussions through a thematic focus looking at questions of Portuguese, Spanish and British colonisation and settlement in the world; Africa and slavery; the emergence of the British Atlantic and the development of slavery in the Caribbean; slavery in Brazil; slaves and sailors in the revolutionary Atlantic; slave mutinies and revolts; slavery in antebellum America; abolitionism and abolition. Students will be encouraged to examine new world slavery with a view to understanding subsequent global political, economic and cultural developments in the Americas, Africa and Europe. Through seminar-based discussion and analysis of a selection of primary sources, students will enhance their historical knowledge and competence in document analysis and presentation. Students will also be supported in the development of critical writing skills.

Indicative Module Content:

Week 1: Portugal and Spain in the New World Week 2: The emergence of the British Atlantic Week 3: Africa and the Middle Passage Week4: Slavery in the 17th century British Caribbean Week 5: Slavery in the 18th century British Caribbean Week 6: Slavery in Brazil Week 7: Sailors and slaves in the Atlantic world Week 8: Slave rebellions Week 9: Antebellum slavery in the United States Week 10: Cotton, slavery and global capitalism Week 11: Abolition and abolitionism

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This is a small group, seminar-based module. A weekly lecture provides an overview of the week's topic. This is complemented by an interactive weekly seminar which is structured around prescribed readings, discussion and debate. Advanced research, writing and citation skills are developed through a semester-long 4,000 word research project/essay. Autonomous learning is advanced through student-led debate and discussion of set primary and secondary sources each week. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Additional Information:
Students should have completed one of the pre-requisite modules listed

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Project: Research paper Unspecified n/a Graded No


Essay: Book review Unspecified n/a Graded No


Assignment: Document analysis Unspecified n/a Graded No


Attendance: Participation Unspecified n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on on the mid term assignment will be given on appointment in one to one meetings. Feedback on the end of semester papers is given by appointment on a one to one basis.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.

Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Mon 15:00 - 15:50
Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Tues 09:00 - 10:50