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Unit information: Aztecs, Incas and Evangelisers in 2021/22

Unit name Aztecs, Incas and Evangelisers
Unit code HIST20036
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Cervantes
Open unit status Not open




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


It used to be believed that the spread of Christianity in Spanish America involved a straightforward imposition of a ‘superior’ type of world religion upon the various ‘disjointed’ beliefs of indigenous societies. Instead, recent research has been focusing on the more informal and haphazard interactions between the different social groups that were brought into contact, not only through conquest and domination, but also through trade and miscegenation. What has emerged is a much more complex and creative process of gradual adaptation where, despite evidence of persistent official opposition, many elements of the indigenous religious systems were willingly incorporated into the Christian rituals and vice versa. The unit aims to draw on recent work in this area to examine the different theories that have been advanced to explain the spread of Christianity in order to revisit a number of familiar themes in European history from a fresh perspective.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Identify and analyse the history of of evangelisation in 16th- and 17th-century Spanish America
  2. Understand and use historical methods specific to the study of of evangelisation in 16th- and 17th-century Spanish America.
  3. Discuss and evaluate the historiographical debates that surround the topic
  4. Understand and interpret primary sources and select pertinent evidence in order to illustrate specific and more general historical points
  5. Present their research and judgements in written forms and styles appropriate to the discipline and to level I.

Teaching details

Classes will involve a combination of class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Details

1 x 3500-word Essay (50%) [ILOs 1-5]; 1 x Timed Assessment (50%) [ILOs 1-5]


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