Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)

Module HIST2981: The White Nile: Conflict, Power and Identity, 1820-2006

Department: History

HIST2981: The White Nile: Conflict, Power and Identity, 1820-2006

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap 60 Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to explore the great variety of states and societies in the White Nile Basin, and the impact of Egyptian and European trade and imperialism since the Egyptian invasion of Sudan in 1820.
  • To focus on the relationships between these diverse societies and the central governments of the three countries that emerged through imperialism and nationalism: Egypt, Sudan and Uganda.
  • To allow students to explore the impact of religious proselytising and revivalism, socio-economic change, and African and Arab nationalism on the existing and emerging political and social identities in the region, in order to understand the difficulties of nation-building in the twentieth century. Struggles over resources like land, labour, oil and even the Nile itself will be discussed, as will more recent international aid interventions.
  • To introduce students to how far the instabilities and conflicts that have characterised the independent nations of the Nile basin are the result of inherent ethnic or religious identities, or of the patterns of political and economic power established since 1820.
  • Contribute towards the achievement of the Department's generic Aims for study at Level 2.


  • Stretching from Uganda to Egypt, Africa's longest river forms a conduit between Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab and Mediterranean worlds. Since the slave trade of the nineteenth century, however, it has often carried more negative aspects of international and imperial interaction.
  • By the late twentieth century, the White Nile basin was more famous for the dangers to tourists in Egypt and Uganda, from Islamic extremism and rebel brutality respectively, while the largest country, Sudan, had become notorious for famines, terrorist training, and civil wars characterised in the media as conflicts between Christians and Muslims or Arabs and Africans.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An awareness of the diversity of societies in the White Nile basin and of the social, economic, political and cultural changes they have undergone since 1820;
  • A knowledge of the history of imperialism, colonialism and nationalism in Egypt, Sudan and Uganda and of the patterns of government that have resulted;
  • An understanding of the historical causes of divisions and conflicts in these countries.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/

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:
  • Unseen Examinations test students' ability to work under pressure under timed conditions, to prepare for examinations and direct their own programme of revision and learning, and develop key time management skills. The unseen examination gives students the opportunity to develop relevant life skills such as the ability to produce coherent, reasoned and supported arguments under pressure. Students will be examined on subject specific knowledge;
  • 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 19 Weekly in Terms 1 & 2 1 hour 19
Seminars 6 3 in Term one, 3 in Term two 1 hour 6
Preparation and Reading 175
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
unseen examination two hour 100%
Component: Two Essays Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 maximum 2000 words not including footnotes and bibliography 50%
Essay 2 maximum 2000 words not including footnotes and bibliography 50%

Formative Assessment:

One or more short assignments submitted in writing or delivered orally and discussed either 1:1 or in a group context.

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