Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST30L1: God, Guns, and Globalization: a history of religion in Africa

Department: History

HIST30L1: God, Guns, and Globalization: a history of religion in Africa

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap 50 Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least ONE level 2 module in History


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce students to pivotal periods in African history, including European and Asian conquest, the slave trade and settlement of diaspora communities, colonial rule, resistance, and African independence.
  • To help students understand and interrogate the ways that major world religions have influenced and been influenced by their historical engagement in Africa.


  • This course will introduce students to the dynamic and varied history of religious interaction in Africa, focusing primarily on the East, Central, and Southern regions of the continent. It considers Africa as part of an inter-connected world as early as the fifteenth century, and reinterprets conventional narratives of Africans as the passive recipients of Western (and Eastern) religions through missions and military conquest. In part, it examines the influence of African religious traditions in the Atlantic world through the diaspora. In addition it considers the central role that religions have played in the political history of many parts of Africa over the last 500 years by looking at case studies from around the continent.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To ensure students have a sound understanding of key periods in African history from the fifteenth to the twentieth century.
  • To facilitate students' ability to use specific case studies to identify broad historical themes and trends.
  • To develop students' ability to think comparatively across historical periods and geographic spaces.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will be introduced to primary source analysis, and should gain preliminary skills to evaluate both archival and oral historical sources.
Key Skills:
  • Students will gain facility with writing extended comparative analyses; evaluating and deploying evidence; and producing nuanced arguments.
  • Students will be exposed to a range of competing ideas and arguments and will develop skills in contextualising and evaluating these.
  • Students will learn to define their own case-study approach to broad, theoretical questions.

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. enter text as appropriate for the module

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 Weekly in Terms 1 & 2; 2 in Term 3 1 hour
Seminars 7 4 in Term 1, 3 in Term 2 1 hour
Preparation and Reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 words not including footnotes or bibliography 100%
Component: Exam Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seen Examination [paper to be made available not less than 72 hours before the start of the examination] 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Written assignment(s) of 1000-2000 words.

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