Skip to main content

Unit information: Pirates (Level H Lecture Response Unit) in 2014/15

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Pirates (Level H Lecture Response Unit)
Unit code HIST30032
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Stone
Open unit status 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

On successful completion of this unit students will have developed: (1) a broad understanding of the history of piracy from Middle Ages to the modern world; (2) the ability to analyse and generalise about how and why piracy develops and how states and international organisations have sought to foster or suppress it; (3) the ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general issues and arguments; (4) the ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically, and form an individual viewpoint.

Teaching Information

1 x 2-hour interactive lecture per week.

Assessment Information

One summative coursework essay of 3000 words (50%) and one unseen examination of two hours comprising 2 questions out of 8 (50%). Both elements will assess ILOs 1-4.

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)