HIS10440 The United States, 1776-1991

Academic Year 2024/2025

This module explores the development of the United States from the founding of the republic to the end of the Cold War, from the creation of a federal government with limits on its powers to the emergence of the United States as a sole superpower. Particular attention is paid to the evolution of democracy in the United States and the development of distinct and divergent ideas about American national identity. Students will explore the issues and ideas that led to the thirteen colonies uniting to form a new country, and they will consider the ways in which expansion westwards impacted American identities and national purpose. The Civil War of 1861-1865—the bloodiest conflict in American history—and its aftermath led to the ending of slavery but did not end racial division and White supremacy. Immigration, economic growth and overseas expansion in the late 19th century began the process of transforming the United States from a regional to a world power, while World War II and the Cold War dramatically altered both government and society. Students will closely examine one journal article per week to explore questions of democracy, race relations, political power and social protest, and Americans' engagement with the world over an extended period of time.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should have:
• Further developed their understanding of essential skills for history students;
• Advanced their appreciation of how history is studied at university level;
• Acquired a critical approach to evidence and an ability to study and learn more effectively;
• Developed their powers of expression, both orally and in writing;
• Developed their ability to appreciate and analyse the development of the United States from the founding of the republic to the end of the Cold War;
• Developed their understanding of the dynamic social, political, economic, ideological, and external forces at play in the development of US society and politics.

Indicative Module Content:

Week 1: Founding a Republic and Building a Democracy
Week 2: Westward Expansion
Week 3: Slavery and the Civil War
Week 4: Reconstruction and the Politics of Reform
Week 5: Immigration, Empire, and the “Global” United States
Week 6: The Great Depression and World War II
Week 7: Cold War Society
Week 8: The Black Freedom Struggle
Week 9: The Vietnam War
Week 10: 1960s Social Revolutions
Week 11: The Rise of the Right
Week 12: Reading Week (no lectures or seminars)

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Students will attend one lecture and one seminar per week. They will compose one discussion board post and one reply each week. The lectures will introduce students to the weekly topic and explore the ways in which historians have examined the issues under consideration. The seminar will provide an opportunity for students to engage in more in-depth discussion of the topic, with a particular focus on the required reading. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Participation in Learning Activities: Students will be graded on their participation during the seminars; this includes engagement in small group work. This is not based on attendance, but rather active discussion and participation. Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9, Week 10, Week 11 Graded No


Group Work Assignment: Group presentation based on one of the weekly topics. Each student will be assigned to one week and will be individually graded on their part of the group presentation. Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9, Week 10 Graded No


Reflective Assignment: Weekly learning journals - students will respond to a question relating to the reading, which will be set each week. Each response will be 200-250 words, and will be submitted on Brightspace. Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9, Week 10, Week 11 Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will receive written feedback on assignments via Brightspace.