Module Catalogue 2015/16

HIS1046 : The History of the Americas

  • Offered for Year: 2015/16
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Benjamin Houston
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



The specific aims of this module are:

• To introduce students to the study of the Americas in broad terms.
• To introduce students to the variety of different approaches used in the study of North American, Latin American and the Atlantic World via the study of five main areas: indigenous societies and colonial encounters; slavery and race; independence and nation-building; inter-American relations; and racial and ethnic identities.
• To provide an opportunity to acquire a sound general knowledge of the subject, reading widely and critically in the primary and secondary literature associated with it and to develop the capacity for independent study.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module is structured around the following five themes:
1. Indigenous societies and colonial encounters.
2. Slavery and race
3. Independence and nation-building.
4. Inter - American relations.
5. Racial and ethinic identities

Depending on who is teaching the module, the lectures will focus on examples in the Atlantic World, Latin America and North America that highlight these themes (e.g. lectures will be offered on slavery and race in, respectively, the Caribbean, Brazil and the American South)

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

This introductory module is designed to provide a foundation for the School's Stage 2 modules on different aspects of the history of the Americas. Students completing the module will have developed a knowledge of the range and variety of approaches to the study of the Americas and an awareness of the importance of the four areas detailed above to the history of the Atlantic World, from colonial times to the present day. These should have developed an understanding of the specific historiography, methodology and historical sources related to these. They should also have developed a new way of approaching the subject of history generally by establishing links between the histories of different nations yet within a fairly tight structured framework designed to help them make such links with reference to the history of the Americas.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Students successfully completing the module will have had the opportunity to develop the following key skills: written, electronic and interpersonal communication, teamwork, planning and organisation, problem solving, bibliographic initiative, numeracy, computer literacy.

Development of capacity for independent study and critical judgment and of the ability to respond promptly, cogently and clearly to new and unexpected questions arising from this study.

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Present
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Literacy : Assessed
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Assessed
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Present
  • Self Management
    • Self Awareness And Reflection : Present
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Assessed
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Innovation And Creativity : Present
      • Initiative : Present
      • Independence : Present
      • Problem Solving : Assessed
      • Adaptability : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Present
      • Written Other : Assessed
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
      • Relationship Building : Present
      • Negotiation : Present
      • Peer Assessment Review : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion721:0072:0045% of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading721:0072:0045% of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching161:0016:00Seminars - up to 16 groups
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study161:0016:0010% of guided independent study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures impart core knowledge and an outline of knowledge that students are expected to acquire and they stimulate development of listening and note-taking skills. They explain historical concepts and set out historical debates and problems. They introduce a range of source material and set out and help evaluate its historical context and worth. Listening and note-taking are practised in lectures.

Seminars encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral presentation, interpersonal communication, problem-solving skills and adaptability. The group presentation further promotes the development of team-working skills.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1352A10048hr Take Home Exam
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Exams test acquisition of a clear general knowledge of the subject plus the ability to think and analyse a problem quickly, to select from and to apply both the general knowledge and detailed knowledge of aspects of the subject to new questions, problem-solving skills, adaptability, the ability to work unaided and to write clearly and concisely.

Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

All exchange students at Newcastle University including Erasmus, study-abroad, exchange proper and Loyola are warmly encouraged to do the same assessment as the domestic students unless they have compelling reasons not to do so. If this is the case, they are offered the option of writing one 3,000 word essay to be handed in by 12.00 p.m. of the Friday of the first week of the assessment period. This will replace all assessment work required of domestic students. If they wish to take up this option, students need to discuss it with their module leader, having checked with their home university that the new assessment will be accepted by them.

Students who opt for the alternative assessment because they will have to leave Newcastle University before the assessment period (excluding Erasmus students, who are contractually obliged to be at Newcastle until the end of the semester) should hand in their 3000-word essays before they go away. If this is not possible, they should tell the School exchange coordinator that they are going to submit their essays in absentia, then submit their essays through Blackboard and email copies of the essays to the School Office ( Any essay received after the deadline will be considered as a late submission.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Note: The Module Catalogue now reflects module information relating to academic year 15/16. Please contact your School Office if you require module information for a previous academic year.

Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.