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Module HPS-2016:
The Atlantic Slave Trade

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Gareth Evans Jones

Overall aims and purpose

This module will look at the rise and fall of the transatlantic slave trade during the fateful years of 1440 – 1880. This was a crucial time when the largest migration of people in the early modern period took place as it saw the displacement of millions of Africans from their native lands and into very different social, ideological and linguistic contexts. The module will consider how this slave trade developed over time and will look at the role of religion in its establishment, sustainment and eradication – especially, the views of Christian pro-slavery advocates and Christian abolitionists. Having discussed various aspects, such as the nature of the Middle Passage, life in the ‘New’ world, slave narratives and slave songs, as well as the abolition movement, the module will conclude by considering the nature of reparations. In addition, we will look at the impact emancipation actually had on former slaves – were the newly freed individuals accepted into society or did their being liberated give way to further hostilities?

Course content

The module will explore a variety of topics in detail, such as: defining slavery and the transatlantic world, the nature of the Middle Passage, life in the ‘New World’, slave narratives and slave songs, the relationship between the slave trade and religion (especially Christianity), the abolition movement and the gradual decline of the slave trade, as well as the nature and impact of reparations, in addition to a consideration of the situation of newly emancipated slaves in the latter part of the 19th century.

Assessment Criteria

C- to C+

Submitted work is competent throughout and occasionally distinguished by superior style, approach and choice of supporting materials. It demonstrates: • Good structure and logically developed arguments. • At least in parts draws on material that has been sourced and assessed as a result of independent study, or in a way unique to the student. • Assertions are, in the main, backed by evidence and sound reasoning. • Accuracy and presentation in an appropriate academic style.


-B (50%>)

Submitted work is competent throughout and distinguished by superior style, approach and choice of supporting materials. It demonstrates:

  • Very good structure and logically developed arguments.
  • Draws on material that has been sourced and assessed as a result of independent study, or in a way unique to the student.
  • Assertions are backed by evidence and sound reasoning.
  • Accuracy and presentation in an appropriate academic style.


-D / 40%>

Submitted work is adequate and shows an acceptable level of competence as follows:

  • Generally accurate but with omissions and errors.
  • Assertions are made without clear supporting evidence or reasoning.
  • Has structure but is lacking in clarity and therefore relies on the reader to make links and assumptions.
  • Draws on a relatively narrow range of material.


-A (70%>)

Submitted work is of an outstanding quality and excellent in one or more of the following ways:

  • Has originality of exposition with the student’s own thinking being readily apparent.
  • Provides clear evidence of extensive and relevant independent study.
  • Arguments are laid down with clarity and provide the reader with successive stages of consideration to reach conclusions.

Learning outcomes

  1. • Demonstrate an appreciation of the complexity of reconstructing the past, and the problematic and varied nature of historical evidence.

  2. • Demonstrate an ability to interrogate, read, analyse and reflect critically and contextually upon primary and secondary sources, including historical writings and the interpretations of historians regarding the transatlantic slave trade.

  3. • Demonstrate an understanding of the varieties of approaches to understanding, constructing, and interpreting the past; and, where relevant, a knowledge of concepts and theories derived from the humanities and social sciences.

  4. • The ability to address historical problems in depth, involving the use of contemporary sources and advanced secondary literature.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight

Students will be expected to deliver a 20 minute individual oral presentation, discussing a specific aspect associated with the transatlantic slave trade, such as history, religion, sociology or culture.


Students will be given a choice of 5 questions tailored to level 5 standard and they will only need to answer one on a specific aspect of the transatlantic slave trade.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


Students will be expected to attend 33 hours of formal teaching. The lectures will offer students a broad and in-depth overview of various elements of the transatlantic slave trade, including history, religion, sociology, culture, politics and economy.

Private study

Students will be expected to undertake 167 hours worth of private study. In order to complement this, the module convener will provide students with a concise reading list and will also provide items of interest, such as scholarly articles, primary sources and secondary sources.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Articulacy in identifying underlying issues in a wide variety of debates.
  • Precision of thought and expression in the analysis and formulation of complex and controversial problems.
  • Sensitivity in interpretation of religious and philosophical texts drawn from a variety of ages and/or traditions.
  • Clarity and rigour in the critical assessment of arguments presented in such texts.
  • The ability to use and criticise specialised religious and philosophical terminology.
  • The ability to abstract and analyse arguments, and to identify flaws in them, such as false premises and invalid reasoning.
  • The ability to construct rationally persuasive arguments for or against specific religious and philosophical claims.
  • The ability to move between generalisation and appropriately detailed discussion, inventing or discovering examples to support or challenge a position, and distinguishing relevant and irrelevant considerations.
  • The ability to consider unfamiliar ideas and ways of thinking, and to examine critically presuppositions and methods within the disciplines of philosophy and religion.


Talis Reading list

Reading list

Baucom, Ian. 2005. Specters of the Atlantic: finance capital, slavery, and the philosophy of history. Durham: Duke University Press.

Evans, Chris. 2010. Slave Wales: The Welsh and Atlantic Slavery, 1660-1850. Cardiff: Cardiff University Press.

Klein, Herbert S. 1999. The Atlantic Slave Trade. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Morgan, Kenneth. 2000. Slavery, Atlantic Trade and the British Economy, 1660-1800. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Murray, David. 1980. Odious Commerce: Britain, Spain and the abolition of the Cuban slave trade. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: