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Unit information: The Smugglers' City (Level I Special Field) in 2021/22

Unit name The Smugglers' City (Level I Special Field)
Unit code HIST26010
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Jones
Open unit status Not open




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


During the sixteenth century Bristol became, in a very literal sense, a smugglers' city , ruled over by a merchant elite that were heavily involved in illicit trading. This Special Field will explore how Bristol 's ruling elite created, operated, and protected their smuggling operations during the sixteenth century and how, more generally, they sought to maintain and increase their power in the city during the Tudor and Stuart period. By studying Bristol 's black-economy and comparing it to that of other times and places, the unit will seek to determine how organised crime worked in this period and why it was so difficult to suppress. The unit is based on Dr Jones' award-winning research and offers students the opportunity to participate in his ongoing work into smuggling, the Bristol discovery voyages and the seventeenth-century development of the America's trade. As such, the associated project workshops will be geared towards preparing students to undertake original research on early modern manuscripts an approach that has resulted in some stunningly good work in previous years

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Identify and analyse key themes in the history of smugglers in Bristol
  2. Understand and use historical methods specific to the study of smugglers in Bristol.
  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]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. HIST26010).