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Unit information: Slavery in 2024/25

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 Slavery
Unit code HIST10046
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Stone
Open unit status Not open
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School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Unit Information

Slavery has shaped individuals, communities and nations for centuries with profound and enduring consequences. Evidence of unfree forms of labour exists in some of the earliest historical records, and today there are thought to be more people in bonded labour in the world than there have been at any point in the past. The word ‘slavery’, however, is most often associated with the Atlantic system, and the millions of Africans who were transported and enslaved in the European colonies in the New World between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. This unit will focus on the distinctive racialised form of slavery, which developed in the Americas, whilst also setting it in a global and trans-historical context.

The unit engages with four key aspects of slavery: the development of Atlantic slavery; the lived experience of enslaved people in the Americas; abolition and emancipation; and legacies and memories of slavery. It will ask: why did slavery become the predominant form of labour in the early Americas? To what extent was this a result of ideas of ‘race’? What forces shaped the way enslaved people were treated? How can we recover the experience of those who were enslaved? How and why was slavery brought to an end? Did slavery cause the Industrial Revolution in Britain? Should reparations be paid to the descendants of enslaved people? How has slavery shaped modern race relations? How should we memorialise slavery?

Your learning on this unit

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

  1. Identify and analyse key themes in the history of slavery in various contexts
  2. Discuss and evaluate the historiographical debates that surround the topic
  3. 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 C.

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

Tasks which help you learn and prepare you for summative tasks (formative):

There are no formative assessments in this unit.

Tasks which count towards your unit mark (summative):

One 2500-word essay (50%) [ILOs 1-4]. 2-hour Unseen Examination (50%) [ILOs 1-4].

When assessment does not go to plan:

If you are not able to take or pass a summative assessment, you will have another opportunity during the autumn reassessment period. The assessment format will remain the same as that originally planned.

If unforeseen circumstances mean that the examination cannot proceed as planned for any reason, the assessment paper will be released to students and they will be able to complete it according to the University’s rules on Timed Assessments.


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. HIST10046).

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.