Conquest and Resistance in southern Africa,1750-1918 - HI5201

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Autumn 5 30 (15) DR A Cohen checkmark-circle


This course explores Southern Africa in a period when it was one of the most dynamic and turbulent regions on earth. Early encounters and conflicts between European settlers and African societies focused on land and labour and were shaped by rapid changes in local and global economies and societies. The discovery of gold and diamonds transformed the local economy and radically transformed the region's relations with the major imperial powers: Germany, Great Britain and Portugal. The Berlin conference of 1884-85 initiated a scramble for formal control of the region, its peoples and its riches, which culminated in the South African war of 1899-1902. Diverse African societies responded to interactions and conflicts with European encroachment and annexation in a range of ways. Cecil Rhodes’ takeover of Rhodesia and the colonisation of Namibia by Germany will also be examined, as will African resistance to both events. Processes of African and European empire building and expansion will be examined as will be the economic and political dynamics of European imperialism, both on the international and the local stage, demonstrating both their metropolitan and local causes. This module will look at the societies of both the colonisers and the colonised, also paying attention to African responses and resistance.


Contact hours

A total of 30 contact hours.

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Essay (2,500 words) – 30%
Seminar Presentation (10 mins) – 10%
Examination (2 hrs) – 60%

Indicative reading

Oxford History of the British Empire, 5 vol. Oxford, (1998) (chapters on Southern Africa)

T.R.H. Davenport & C. Saunders, South Africa (2000)

M. Graham, Africa (2019)

J. Iliffe, Africans: The History of a Continent (1995)

A. Mlambo, A History of Zimbabwe (2014)

R. Ross, A Concise History of Africa (1999)

R Skinner, South Africa in World History (2017)

L.M. Thompson, A History of South Africa (2001)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes, on successfully completing the module students will be able to:

- Critically evaluate a rich historiography of southern Africa, evaluating its relative strengths and limitations, and to interpret these sources verbally and in writing.
- Demonstrate a systematic understanding of Europe's interaction with southern Africa from 1750 to 1918 and an understanding of the consequent political, social and cultural change within the context of European colonialism.
- Demonstrate a critical awareness of different disciplinary approaches towards the history of southern Africa.

The intended generic learning outcomes, on successfully completing the module students will be able to:

- Accurately deploy established methods of historical analysis and enquiry to construct robust historical arguments drawing intelligently on secondary sources, and to present these arguments verbally and in writing.
- Demonstrate skills of conceptualisation, reflexivity, critical thought and epistemological awareness.
- Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge and systematic understanding of the past and particular aspects of the historiography and methodology.


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
Back to top

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.