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2021/22 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

HIST5860M Britain and the Slave Trade

30 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr Pete Maw

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module offers students the opportunity to study Britain's extensive engagements with African slavery in the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. With a particular emphasis on historiographical debates, the module will explore the establishment and growth of the plantation system in the Caribbean and North America, changing patterns of commercial organisation (including the rise of Liverpool as Britain's leading slaving port), the notorious middle passage, the roles played by African merchants, and the transmission of African cultures to Atlantic America. The module will also consider the rise of anti-slavery sentiments in Britain, the ways that these ideas were mobilised, and the eventual abolition of the slave trade in 1807.


1. To examine the history of Britain's engagements with African slavery before 1807
2. To assess the major historical approaches to the study of British-Atlantic slavery
3. To examine the respective roles played by British, African and colonial-American participants in the slave trade
4. To analyse the Africans' experience of slavery within the 'first' British empire
5. To analyse how and why historians research findings change over time

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module, students will be able to demonstrate:
1. A critical understanding of the major concepts and approaches used by historians in their study of the British slave trade
2. A broad knowledge of how British, African and American people engaged in the slave trade
3. The ability to review and analyse significant historiographical debates
4. The ability to express ideas and arguments effectively and persuasively in written work.


1. Introduction: Slavery and the British-Atlantic World
2. The British slave trade in comparative perspective
3. The 'triangular trade' and the rise of Liverpool
4. The Middle Passage
5. The rise of the slave-plantation system in the West Indies and mainland America
6. Slave work
7. Slave demography
8. Slave resistance and culture
9. The impact of the slave trade on Africa
10. The impact of the slave trade on Britain
11. Britain and the abolition of the slave trade

Teaching methods

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

Private study

Undertaking set reading for seminars; broader, independent reading for weekly classes, researching, preparing and completing two written assignments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Contributions to class discussions, feedback on written essays, tutorials with the module leader.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2,000-word essay, due by 12.00pm on Monday of teaching week 833.00
Essay1 x 4,000-word essay, due by 12.00pm on Monday of examination week 267.00
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: 30/06/2021 15:57:34


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