New courses



The Department of International History will be introducing the following new courses in 2020/21. They are available for selection starting in September 2019, unless stated otherwise.

Undergraduate courses


HY120 - Historical Approaches to the Modern World

Dr Taylor C. Sherman

This course provides a foundation to allow first-year historians to come to grips with the many different ways in which historians pursue their craft. It explores major themes in the history of the world over the last six centuries. These themes include: making sense of the international; modernity and globalisation; political structures; ideas and ideologies; resistance, violence and conflict; identities; the body and social life; migration and diaspora; space and scale; borders, oceans and environment. 

*This course is compulsory for 1st year UG students.*


HY333 - Enslavement, commerce, and political formations in West Africa, c. 1550-1836

Dr Jake Subryan Richards

What role did West Africa and West Africans play in the Atlantic world? In this module, we will investigate how African political communities formed and changed from the rise of the transatlantic slave trade to the age of revolutions. Between c. 1550 and 1800, empires rose and fell, trading patterns were transformed, and social and cultural practices changed in the regions that became known as the Gold Coast, Bight of Benin, and West Central Africa. African empires that had expanded were threatened by revolutionary political rivals. Slaving, which had begun as a marginal enterprise, became the primary export activity, generating widespread warfare and demographic distortion. And ideas and practices regarding gods, gender, and land changed to makes sense of problems such as inequality, the abuse of political power, and the interference of outsiders. We will discover how Africans participated in commerce, diplomacy, and cultural production on equal terms with white Europeans between c. 1550 and 1700. We will trace how those relationships changed with growing commercial dependence on the transatlantic slave trade, along with its devastating effects on military conflict, spiritual beliefs, and political stability. Through various themes such as kinship, trade, spirituality, and political power, this course investigates how West Africans were participants in the Atlantic world, rather than its one-dimensional victims.

Postgraduate courses


HY485 - Germanness in the 20th century: Identity, Politics, and Violence in Germany from the First World War to Re-Unification

Professor Martina Kessel

Notions of collective identity are deeply intertwined with the phenomenon of how politics are understood and acted out. The class will discuss which notions of Germanness were constructed over the course of the twentieth century. It will ask how they impacted politics and society in key moments of German history, and how they were influenced in turn by political developments. We will pursue two major lines of inquiry. On the one hand, we will analyse how contemporaries framed their imagined identity of ‘being German’ by deciding who might belong or not belong to German society, in political, legal, confessional, or cultural terms. On the other hand, we will trace how such projections were used to justify various forms of exclusion or violence. The course will start by analysing issues of race, class, gender, and confession before the First World War, as important categories of boundary work. The class will then debate how notions of Germanness served to legitimize violence and non-democratic politics during the First World War and the Weimar Republic. The third section will focus on National Socialism, exploring the construction of imagined identities on the one hand through popular culture and various practices of implementing a ‘people’s community’ and on the other hand through warfare and genocide. Finally, we will discuss the competition between the two German states between 1949 and 1990 in terms of politics and collective identity.


 HY486 - Practicing Abolition in the Atlantic World, c. 1807-1870

Dr Jake Subryan Richards

Britain’s parliamentary act to abolish the transatlantic slave trade in 1807 is a standard reference point in histories of slavery and abolition. But much less is known about the consequences of enforcing that act in West Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Enforcement required huge investment in colonial and naval forces to try to stop slave ships from crossing the Atlantic; it caused a build-up of captives on the African coast because some traders could no longer sell them overseas; it prompted other traders to develop a huge illegal slave trade to Brazil and Cuba; and it generated new forms of bonded labour (such as indenture) in the Americas to replace the diminishing supply of enslaved Africans. These changes altered Britain’s political and commercial relationships with polities in Africa and the Americas. This module envisages transatlantic abolition as a set of practices between British agents and the rulers, traders, slaves, and free(d) peoples of different Atlantic societies. How did Britain’s colonial empire adapt to accommodate the influx of Africans from captured slave ships? How did political authorities in Africa and Latin America respond to British demands for abolition? And what did the enslaved make of the transformations wrought by abolition? We will explore these questions using sources such as slave narratives, political pamphlets, travel literature, and diplomatic correspondence. Through this course, students will examine how abolishing the transatlantic slave trade produced new modes of encounter, empire, and labour in the Atlantic world.