Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: History


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap None. Location Durham


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


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To equip students with an understanding of the relationship between Britain and Africa in the eras of the Atlantic slave trade, industrialisation and imperialism;
  • To address one of the key problems in African history - the use of British sources - by encouraging students to analyse critically the contemporary literature and to understand its context;
  • To address historiographical and theoretical debates about the impact of this literature, the evolution of ethnography and anthropology and the relationship between knowledge and power in imperial and colonial contexts.


  • This module will address key scholarly debates about the role of anti-slavery and missionary campaigns in Britain, together with the role of pioneer explorers, traders and missionaries, in shaping enduring images of Africa, with consequences for British imperialism and colonialism.
  • It will also discuss key debates about the emerging discipline of anthropology and its relationship to racial theory and colonial administration.
  • It will explore the underlying theoretical issue of the relationship between knowledge and power in the imperial context, including the importance of science and technology in driving or enabling British expansion and generating racial theories.
  • It will also utilise selected British texts from the period and engage with the scholarly debates about their impact in creating an enduring 'image of Africa'.
  • Finally it will encourage students to question the ways in which historians have utilised such texts to write African history.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge and understanding of the role of British explorers, missionaries, pioneers and officials, and the quest for maral and scientific knowledge, in shaping the relationship between Britain and Africa in the period from 1700 to 1950.
  • Familiarity with pertinent scholarly debates.
  • Appreciation of the roots of modern ideas about the problems, attractions and needs of the African continent.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at:
  • http://www.dur.ac.uk/History/ugrads/ModuleProformaMap/;
  • In addition students will be able to evaluate primary source material and engage in textual analysis in the reconstruction of both British and African attitudes and societies.
  • To reflect upon the nature of history as a discipline by analysing the questions historians ask of their primary sources and/or the nature of the debates among historians.
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/History/ugrads/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:
  • 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 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. In addition, seen Examinations (with pre-released paper) are intended to enable Level 3 students to produce more considered and reflective work;
  • 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, Terms 1 and 2 1 hour 19
Seminars 8 3 in Term one, 3 in Term two; revision seminar; on-line seminar 1 hour; 2 hours 9
Preparation and Reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essays Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 2000 words - not including scholarly apparatus 50%
Essay 2 2000 words - not including scholarly apparatus 50%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seen examination [paper to be made available not less than twenty-four hours before the start of the examination] 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Coursework essays are formative as well as summative. They are to be submitted in two copies, of which one will be returned with written comments and a standard departmental feedback sheet; Preparation to participate in tutorials; At least one oral presentation or short written assignment.

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