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Unit information: Pirates (Lecture Response Unit) in 2015/16

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Unit name Pirates (Lecture Response Unit)
Unit code HISTM0053
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Jones
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

In the popular imagination, historical pirates are romantic figures, with Long John Silver and Johnny Depp setting the tone for the way pirates are conceived. The historical reality of piracy, however, was more diverse and often more menacing, while piracy itself remains a serious issue in the modern world. From the Dunkirkers and Barbary Corsairs who harried shipping at the close of the Middle Ages to the Somalian Pirates of today, piracy has been a constant of maritime life. This unit will explore piracy throughout history in all of its forms: from the ‘robbers of the sea’, through the privateering of the Elizabethan Age, to the modern pirates of the Indian Ocean and China Seas. We will explore a range of issues including what drove people to piracy, how pirates organised themselves and the nature of the threat that piracy posed or poses. Other themes will include: official responses to piracy, the relationship between piracy and the law, popular perceptions of pirates and the varied relationships between piracy, diplomacy, state formation and imperial growth.

Intended Learning Outcomes

1) To give students a broad grounding in the study of piracy from medieval times to the modern age.

2) To improve students’ ability to argue effectively and at length (including an ability to cope with complexities and to describe and deploy these effectively).

3) To be able to display high level skills in selecting, applying, interpreting and organising information, including evidence of a high level of bibliographical control.

4) To develop the ability of students to evaluate and/or challenge current scholarly thinking.

5) To foster student’s capacity to take a critical stance towards scholarly processes involved in arriving at historical knowledge and/or relevant secondary literature.

6) To be able to demonstrate an understanding of concepts and an ability to conceptualise.

7) To develop students’ capacity for independent research.

Teaching Information

1 x 2-hour interactive lecture per week.

Assessment Information

One summative coursework essay of 5000 words (100%). This will assess ILOs 1-7.

Reading and References

K.R. Andrews, Elizabethan Privateering: Privateering During the Anglo-Spanish War, 1585-1603, (London, 1964)

J. Gibbs, On the Account, Piracy and the Americas, 1766-1835, (Brighton, 2012)

R. Geiss, Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea: The Legal Framework for Counter-Piracy in Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, (Oxford, 2011)

A.G. Jamieson, Lords of the Sea: A History of the Barbary Corsairs, (London, 2012)

G. Moore (ed.), Pirates and Mutineers of the Nineteenth Century: Swashbucklers and Swindlers, (Farnham, 2011)

M. Rediker, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, (London, 2012)