HIS31860 Slavery and the New World

Academic Year 2024/2025

It is estimated that between the mid-fifteenth century and towards the end of the nineteenth century, more than 12 million people from Africa were enslaved and forcefully transported to the Americas. Of these 12 million, it is believed that approximately 11 million Africans survived often terrible and harrowing Atlantic voyages. Such was the scale of the Atlantic slave trade that until the 1820s more Africans crossed the Atlantic than Europeans. The produce of enslaved labour in the form of tobacco, rice, sugar and cotton transformed European economies and habits and arguably laid the basis for globalised capitalism. All major European maritime powers were involved in the slave while more than 90% of slaves shipped across the Atlantic were supplied by African traders. Many key features of the modern world have roots which can be traced to slavery: demography of the Americas; poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and food-ways of the world. While this module will examine early modern and modern slavery from its Portuguese beginnings down to its final abolition in Brazil in 1888, it will concentrate in particular on slavery in Britain’s seventeenth-century Atlantic territories and colonial America in the eighteenth century.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Students taking this module will acquire an indepth knowledge of current debates and scholarship in the field of slavery and the new world from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. They will be introduced to topical historiographical discussions through a thematic focus looking at questions of Portuguese, Spanish and British colonisation and settlement in the world; Africa and slavery; the emergence of the British Atlantic and the development of slavery in the Caribbean; slavery in Brazil; slaves and sailors in the revolutionary Atlantic; slave mutinies and revolts; slavery in antebellum America; abolitionism and abolition. Students will be encouraged to examine new world slavery with a view to understanding subsequent global political, economic and cultural developments in the Americas, Africa and Europe. Through seminar-based discussion and analysis of a selection of primary sources, students will enhance their historical knowledge and competence in document analysis and presentation. Students will also be supported in the development of critical writing skills.

Indicative Module Content:

British Atlantic; beginnings of slavery; emergence of the plantation complex; Africa and the enslaved; the Middle Passage; Slavery in the British West Indies in the 18th century; Abolition; slavery in the United States.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:

The module is delivered on an interactive student-focused basis through lectures and seminars. Students are encouraged to explore primary historical documents with a view to enhancing their historical knowledge and capacity. Moreover, students are encouraged to question and interrogate sources in order to arrive a greater understanding of the module topic and its broader contemporary ideological, social, political and cultural implications. 
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
Assignment(Including Essay): Students are required to wrote a primary source analysis of a relevant document. The analysis must consist of 2,000 words. Week 5 Graded No


Assignment(Including Essay): Students are required to write a research paper based on relevant primary sources with appropriate consideration of secondary scholarship. The essay must consist of 4,000 words. Week 14 Graded No


Participation in Learning Activities: Students are required to participate in and contribute to all class discussions and debates on an active basis. Participation is graded on a scale from A to NG, Week 12 Graded No



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

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

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