Conquest and Resistance in Southern Africa,1750-1918 - HIST5201

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


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. 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

Total contact hours: 30
Private study hours: 270
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Essay 1 (3,000 words) (40%)
Essay 2 (3,000 words) (40%)
Presentation (20%)

Reassessment methods
Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Oxford History of the British Empire, 5 vol. Oxford, (1998) (chapters on Southern Africa)
Davenport T.R.H. & C. Saunders, (2000). South Africa
Graham, M. (2019) Africa
Iliffe, J 1995). Africans: The History of a Continent
Mlambo, A. (2014). A History of Zimbabwe
Ross, R (1999) A Concise History of Africa
Skinner, R (2017) South Africa in World History (2017)
Thompson, L.M. (2001). A History of South Africa

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:

1. Critically evaluate a rich historiography of southern Africa, evaluating its relative strengths and limitations, and to interpret these sources verbally and in writing.
2. 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.
3. Demonstrate a critical awareness of different disciplinary approaches towards the history of southern Africa.
4. Demonstrate a critical ability to communicate one's findings on southern African history. Learn to articulate ideas and interpretations in a cogent and persuasive manner.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. 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.
2. Demonstrate skills of conceptualisation, reflexivity, critical thought and epistemological awareness.
3. Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge and systematic understanding of the past and particular aspects of the historiography and methodology.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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