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Unit information: Race and Resistance in South Africa (Level H Special Subject) in 2015/16

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Unit name Race and Resistance in South Africa (Level H Special Subject)
Unit code HIST37010
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Rob Skinner
Open unit status Not open




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


This unit explores the rise and decline of racial segregation and apartheid in twentieth-century South Africa. Using a range of sources, including visual sources, personal accounts and literature, the unit addresses the ideological foundations of white supremacy and the legislative framework that sustained it, and relates them to the social and cultural changes wrought by the processes of industrialization and urbanization. The unit follows a chronological structure, moving from an assessment of the social, cultural and ideological foundations of racially- segregated society, through to the formation and extension of the policy of apartheid under Afrikaner National Party. Students will assess the rise of popular resistance and opposition to the crisis of legitimacy and attempts to reform the State in the 1980s, and finally to the delicate transition of power in the 1990s.


  • To place students in direct contact with the current research interests of the academic tutor
  • To enable students to explore the issues surrounding the state of research on the rise and decline of racial segregation and apartheid in twentieth-century South Africa
  • To develop further students' ability to work with primary sources
  • To develop further students' abilities to integrate both primary and secondary source material into a wider historical analysis
  • To develop further students' ability to learn independently within a small-group context.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students should have:

  • Developed an in depth understanding of race and resistance in South Africa
  • Become more experienced and competent in working with an increasingly specialist range of primary sources
  • Become more adept at contributing to and learning from a small-group environment.

Teaching details

  • 10 x weekly 2 hour seminar
  • Tutorial feedback on essay
  • Access to tutorial consultation with unit tutor in office hours

Assessment Details

1 x 3500 word essay (50%) and 1 x 2 hour exam (50%)

Reading and References

N. Clark and W. Worger, South Africa: the rise and fall of apartheid (2011)

W.Beinart, Twentieth Century South Africa (2001)

W.Beinart and S.Dubow (eds), Segregation and Apartheid in Twentieth Century South Africa (1995)

N.Worden, The Making of Modern South Africa (2000)

T.R.H. Davenport, South Africa: A modern history (2000)

B. Modisane, Blame Me on History (1963)

P. Abrahams, R eturn to Goli (1953)