Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST37A3: History of Black Radical Thought

Department: History

HIST37A3: History of Black Radical Thought

Type Open Level 3 Credits 60 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least TWO level two modules in History


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • For students to develop an advanced understanding of the history of black radical thought
  • To give students the opportunity to engage with a rich range of primary material
  • For students to use their understanding of primary material to engage with and critique existing scholarship


  • This module will explore the transnational history of black radical thought by examining how Africans and people of African descent have responded to and reshaped the racialised world order of the modern period.
  • The module will focus primarily on the twentieth century, but will also explore the long history of black radicalism over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
  • Each week we will examine a different strain or period of black radical thought, including: abolitionism; W.E.B. Du Bois and early Pan-Africanism; Marcus Garvey and Garveyism; Black Communism; Negritude; African anticolonialism; and the Global Black Power movement. Most of the primary material will consist of the non-fiction prose produced by black radical thinkers, such as manifestos, newspaper articles, letters, autobiography, and historical writing. Other material will include speeches, poetry, literary works, and songs.
  • Through a combination of primary and secondary reading, students will examine how black radicalisms have intersected and engaged with liberalism, socialism, nationalism, internationalism, feminism and queer politics, and religious ideas. They will gain an understanding of how black thinkers have both created their own intellectual traditions and responded to European radical ideas, variously adopting them, rejecting them, and modifying them.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A deep understanding of the complex history of black radical thought
  • Comprehension of the historical context of black radical thinkers, and the varied forms in which their thought has been expressed
  • The ability to analyse primary sources, and to assess them with reference to existing scholarship
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/History/ugrads/ModuleProformaMap/
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:
  • 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;
  • tutorials either individually or in groups to discuss topics arising from prepared work, allowing students the opportunity to reflect upon their personal learning with the tutor.
  • 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;
  • Assessment of Primary Source Handling Students are assessed on their understanding of original primary sources, usually in print, their character varying according to the nature of the subject, and the students' ability to bring that knowledge to bear on 'cutting edge'research-based monographs and articles. Students are given the opportunity to discuss and articulate an understanding of changing interpretations and approaches to historical problems, drawing evidence from a body of primary source materials. Students are required to demonstrate skills associated with the evaluation of a variety of primary source materials, using documentary analysis for a critical assessment of existing historical interpretations.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 1 Term 1 1 hour 1
Seminars 19 Weekly in Terms 1 & 2 3 hours 57
Revision Sessions 2 Revision 2 hours 2
Preparation and Reading 540

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seen open book examination 3 hours 100%
Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 Max 3000 words, not including footnotes and bibliography 34%
Essay 2 Max 3000 words, not including footnotes and bibliography 34%
Sources Analyses Max 3000 words, not including footnotes and bibliography 32%

Formative Assessment:

One formative essay of not more than 2500 words (not including footnotes and bibliography); preparation to participate in seminar and tutorials; at least one oral presentation, and practice source/gobbet work.

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