“Conflict, Race and American Empires”: Major Themes in American History - HIST8001

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2023 to 2024.


Drawing out some of the key themes in American history, the module will challenge students to move beyond a chronological reading of history to consider cross-cutting themes which have influenced the development of the American republic, from within and without. The emphasis of the module will focus on building a historiographical understanding of American history: the key interpretations which have guided the field. Students will read both foundational texts and cutting-edge work, in order to better understand the central debates which have made U.S. history one of the most vital in the profession. Core themes will range from the study race and slavery, the development of capitalism, populism, ideas about American exceptionalism, the importance of gender analysis, and the environment. Students will be assessed on their understanding of this literature through a linked set of assignments (both written and oral).


Contact hours

Contact Hours: 24 hours
Private Study: 276 hours
Total: 300 hours

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:
Essay (4,000 words) – 50%
Historiographical essay (1,000 words) – 20%
Viva voce oral examination (30 mins) – 30%

Reassessment methods
100% coursework: Essay (5,000 words)

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.
The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages: https://kent.rl.talis.com/index.html

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the level 7 module students will be able to:

1. Identify the sub-fields that animate American History as a discipline, critically analysing classic texts and understanding the methodological choices that underpin different approaches.
2. Situate their own research within broader themes in American History, moving beyond a chronological approach to history.
3. Produce work that situates their arguments within traditions and themes in American History.
4. Develop a broad understanding of the historical forces that shaped the development of the United States, from its origins to the modern day.
5. Interact with key historiographical debates and consider themselves and their research within those debates
6. Deploy advanced techniques of analysis and enquiry to understand the evolution of American History.

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

1. Critically assess the field of American History, considering the strengths and weaknesses of primary sources and core secondary texts.
2. Communicate their own ideas clearly and coherently, assisted by peer and teacher feedback.
3. Reflect on their own learning, plan their use of time, and identify appropriate directions for further study, encouraged by the teacher.
4. Produce word-processed assignments that are of a high scholarly standard in terms of presentation and professionalism.
5. Research issues independently and productively.


  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.
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.