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Unit information: Outlaws in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Outlaws
Unit code HIST20120
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Stone
Open unit status Not open
Units you must take before you take this one (pre-requisite units)


Units you must take alongside this one (co-requisite units)


Units you may not take alongside this one
School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Unit Information

We have always been fascinated by those who live outside the law: Robin Hood, the pirates of the Caribbean, the smugglers of eighteenth-century England, the cowboys of the American West. These, together with countless other groups, lived outside or beyond the law. All were a problem for the lawmakers of their time but often also elicited popular appeal and sympathy. This unit will explore the figure of the ‘outlaw’ in all guises, considering both those who chose ‘social banditry’ and those who became ‘outlaws’ when other nations claimed their land.

In this unit will address questions that go to the heart of nationhood, belonging and social justice. Why do people become ‘outlaws’? Should we see outlaws as ‘Social Bandits’, forming a counter culture in direct opposition to the dominant regime? Where does the divide lie between legal warfare and illegal plundering? How and why have the authorities responded to outlaws? Why do historic outlaws persist so powerfully in modern ‘collective memory’?

Your learning on this unit

Successful students will be able to:

1. Identify and analyse key themes in the history of outlaws and their impacts on society

2. Discuss and evaluate the key historiographical debates surrounding outlaws

3. Understand and interpret primary sources and select pertinent evidence in order to illustrate specific and more general historical points

4. Present their research and judgements in written forms and styles appropriate to the discipline and to level I.

5. Demonstrate skills in oral presentation appropriate to level I.

How you will learn

Classes will involve a combination of long- and short-form lectures, 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.

How you will be assessed

1 x 10-minute Individual Presentation (25%) [ILOs 1-2, 5]; 1 x Timed Assessment (75%) [ILOs 1-4]


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. HIST20120).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.