Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)

Module HIST2301: Europe’s Colonial Encounters 1492-present

Department: History

HIST2301: Europe’s Colonial Encounters 1492-present

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap 70 Location Durham


  • • A pass mark in at least ONE level one module in History.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The primary objective in this course is to locate the grand narratives of European history in relation to global and especially colonial dynamics. How did colonialism, decolonization, and the postcolonial condition influence the course of European history? What can histories of the rest of the world teach us about the history of Europe?
  • Contribute towards the achievement of the Department's generic Aims for study at Level 2.


  • “Europe’s Colonial Encounters” surveys the history of European colonialism from the sixteenth century age of discovery through the postcolonial present. Over the course of these five momentous centuries, the major European powers incorporated most of the rest of the world within colonial empires or informal spheres of influence. Historians have long acknowledged the impact of this process on the formerly colonized world. We have been slower to recognize the degree to which European history was itself affected by Europe’s colonial encounters. The affects of colonialism were deeply inscribed in the form and content of many of the major benchmarks of European history, including the industrialization and class formation, attitudes towards metropolitan poverty and its relief, popular political mobilization and geopolitical rivalries, including but not limited to the ‘tribal’ warfare c. 1914-1945, to which Europe sacrificed entire generations and minority populations.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students will be able to:
  • make effective comparisons between the policies and practice of colonial powers, reflecting on the nature of colonial settings from 1492 –present;
  • make meaningful connections between events or developments in the colonies and former colonies and developments in Europe, particularly in terms of the movement of people, institutional practices, ideas, and technology;
  • re-think questions of periodization in European history in relation to colonial historical developments and historicize terms like “race” or racism.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject Specific skills can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/Index.htm
Key Skills:
  • Key Skills can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/Index.htm

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Student learning is facilitated by a combination of the following teaching methods:
  • lectures to set the foundations for further study and to provide the basis for the acquisition of subject specific knowledge. Lectures provide a broad framework which defines individual module content, introducing students to themes, debates and interpretations. In this environment, students are given the opportunity to develop skills in listening, selective note-taking and reflection;
  • seminars to allow students to present and critically reflect upon the acquired subject-specific knowledge, methodologies and theories, and to identify and debate a range of issues and differing opinions. The seminar is the forum in which students are given the opportunity to communicate ideas, jointly exploring themes and arguments. Seminars are structured to develop understanding and designed to maximise student participation related to prior independent preparation. Seminars give students the opportunity to develop oral communication skills, encourage critical and tolerant approaches to reasoned argument and historical discussion, build the students' ability to marshal historical evidence, and facilitate the development of the ability to summarise historical arguments, think in a rapidly changing environment and communicate in a persuasive and articulate manner, whilst recognising the value of working with others and, occasionally, towards shared goals.
  • Assessment:
  • Summative essays remain a central component of assessment in history, due to the integrative high-order skills they develop. Essays allow students the opportunity to recognise, represent and critically reflect upon ideas, concepts and problems; students can demonstrate awareness of, and the ability to use and evaluate, a diverse range of resources and identify, represent and debate a range of subject-specific issues and opinions. Through the essay, students can synthesise information, adopt critical appraisals and develop reasoned argument based on individual research; they should be able to communicate ideas in writing, with clarity and coherence; and to show the ability to integrate and critically assess material from a wide range of sources.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Two lectures each week in Term 1 1 hour 20
Seminars 8 Introductory seminar, 6 content seminars, one reflection seminar. 1 hour 8
Preparation and Reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essays Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay 1, not including footnotes and bibliography 3000 words 50%
essay 2, not including footnotes and bibliography 3000 words 50%

Formative Assessment:

One or more short exercises or seminar presentations.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University