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2016/17 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

HIST5960M The British Settler Colonies in Africa - From Colonial Conquest to the Present Day

30 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr W Jackson

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2016/17

Pre-requisite qualifications

Module replaces

HIST5888M: Nationalism in Colonial Africa

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Settler colonialism is a term used to describe a form of colonial domination conveyed and characterised by the migration and settlement of human communities from one geographical locale to another. Britain’s settler colonies in Africa – South Africa, Southern Rhodesia and Kenya – are the subject of this course. While their histories are in many respects quite unique, they nevertheless share several key characteristics. This comparative, thematic and interdisciplinary course will explore what makes these three regions similar – and conversely, what sets them apart. Using a comparative and thematic structure, the course focuses in depth on key features of the settler state, including:- the place of science and medicine in the colonial conquest; - the social history of landscape and the environment; - gender, sex and the colonial family; - the reformation of identities and the ongoing significance of race. The course engages with rapidly expanding literatures on the 'British World', critical whiteness studies, colonial discourse and the 'new' imperial history.


The goals of this seminar are to:
1. encourage a sophisticated understanding of settler colonialism;
2. develop a detailed historical knowledge of Southern and East Africa since the mid-nineteenth century to the present day;
3. encourage students to work comparatively across historical time and geographical space;
4. incorporate into our analysis insights and methodologies from relevant academic disciplines including politics, geography, literary studies and anthropology.

Learning outcomes
Seminar members will be able to consider the historical phenomenon of settler colonialism across three key regional sites in British colonial Africa. The seminar is intended to provide a thematic architecture, within which students will be encouraged to develop their own personal interests.

By approaching the question of settler colonialism thematically, students will be able to engage with different kinds of historical debate and will gain experience in social, cultural, economic and political history.

Students will also be encouraged to work across the divide of the colonial / postcolonial and on completion of the course will have developed a wide-ranging and mature historical understanding by which it is hoped an ongoing engagement with contemporary Africa might be sustained.


1. Introduction: Settler colonialism in theory and practice.
2. Conquest, resistance and dispossession: the beginnings of the settler state.
3. Land, labour and the law: putting settler states to work.
4. Witches, devils and missionary priests: Religious faith in the settler state.
5. Regulating sickness: medicine, psychiatry and mental health.
6. The politics of private lives: sex, gender and the family.
7. Violence, struggle and liberation: bringing down the settler state.
8. Degradation or development? Colonising - and decolonising - nature.
9. The end of race? Citizenship and belonging in the postcolonial state.
10. Making myth and meaning: writing memoir in - and out - of Africa.
11. New relations: Britain and Africa in the Digital Age.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours278.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Students are expected to prepare thoroughly for each seminar.

This will include:
- the reading and analysis of set materials;
- broader, directed-reading;
- engagement with the work of other seminar participants.

The module includes two pieces of formal written assessment, and one element based on student performance in class. For these, students will need to:
- carry out independent research;
- read widely and consistently in order to develop a breadth of knowledge adequate for successful class participation;
- develop appropriate skills of criticism, analysis, referencing, and articulation.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be assessed on their overall participation in class throughout the course.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Report1 x 2,000 word assessed essay to be submitted in teaching week 830.00
Essay1 x 3,000 word assessed essay to be submitted in examination week 250.00
Oral PresentationTo be accompanied by a written report.20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 27/04/2016


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