Module Catalogue 2022/23

HIS2027 : Africa: History of a Continent

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Christina Mobley
  • Lecturer: Dr Jane Webster, Dr Willow Berridge
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module covers the history of Africa from roughly the dawn of history until the post-colonial period. The module is organized chronologically by region, in order to introduce students to the great diversity of peoples, cultures, and climates that characterize the African continent. In this module, students will learn that Africa was never the “dark continent” that it is often supposed to be. A major focus of the module will be Africa’s engagement with the outside world, including the trans-Saharan trade, Swahili city-states and the Indian Ocean, and Trans-Atlantic trade. The module will stress continuity across time periods in order to highlight the lasting impact of historical processes, especially the slave trade and European colonialism. By privileging interdisciplinary methodologies to recover African voices, ideas, and institutions, students learn how Africans have always been influential historical actors in world history, exploring how they interacted with their neighbors in ways that made sense to them and their communities.
Module Aims:
•       Introduce students to the African past, especially the way in which Africans influenced, and were influenced by global networks of exchange of people, goods, and ideas.
•       Introduce students to multidisciplinary methods and sources used to recover the African past.
•       Explore the challenges of “doing history” by evaluating historical interpretations.
•       Introduce students to crafting their own arguments about the African past.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics for this course may include:

The Invention of Africa
Human Origins
Invention of Language
Foodways: Farming, Hunter Gatherers, Pastoralists
Diffusion of Iron
The Bantu Expansion
Nile River Valley Societies – Egypt, Nubia
The Horn of Africa
North Africa in Global History
Christianity, Islam, and African Traditional Religions
Niger River Valley and the Medieval Empires
Trans-Saharan Trade in Global History
East Africa, Swahili City States, and Indian Ocean Trade
Encounter with Europeans
Dependency, Slavery, and Slave Trades
Southern Africa in Global History
Impact of the Slave Trade on Africa
European Colonialism
Post-Colonial Africa

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

The module has two intended outcomes. The first is to teach students that Africa has a past and help develop knowledge of what that past encompasses, stressing interconnection between Africa and other parts of the globe. Second, students will demonstrate the ability to triangulate between multidisciplinary methods and sources to recover the experiences and ideas of people traditionally excluded from the study of the past. Students will be able to critically evaluate ideas and concepts introduced in the module, and construct their own arguments based on the critical use of evidence.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Through scaffolded written assignments, students will develop critical thinking, reading, and writing skills.
Develop critical use of evidence including: words, things, genes, and the environment.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion501:0050:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00Pre-recorded lectures, allows for active learning during PiP, counts in contact hours.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00In class lectures, active learning based on pre-recorded lectures students will already have watched
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading731:0073:00Reading self-selected from the module reading list
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading441:0044:004 hrs per week of required reading to support classroom activities and seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Seminars: PinP
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Our teaching strategy is based on a flipped classroom. Students are expected to come to class having completed the assigned reading in order to fully participate in active learning, lead by in-classroom activities. Lectures and non-synchronous lecture materials will introduce topics and provide expert orientation and exposition on a broad range of themes and issues, supplemented by the module reading list. In-person lectures will provide opportunities for dialogue, while lecture materials can be reviewed at any time across the week and revisited numerous times afterwards. In the event that on-campus sessions need to be reduced, there is the capacity to present recorded materials asynchronously and retain timetabled slots for live discussion of these materials.

Seminars are spaces for students to workshop specific case studies, developing the competencies in the multidisciplinary methodologies and analytical skills targeted in the module aims.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M301000 words
Essay1A701750 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1M500 word essay plan for 1st assessment
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Informed by pedagogical research, this course adopts an outcome based assessment model. In order to ensure accessibility to socially and neurologically diverse student population, this course uses scaffolded written assignments to build critical writing skills, facility with the material and historical research. Each written assignment focuses on one skill, allowing students to improve throughout the semester. The formative assessment introduces the skill of crafting an argumentative thesis statement and gives students the opportunity to get feedback on an outline of the second assessment. The second essay develops student understanding of triangulating between multidisciplinary methods and sources. The last essay builds on the argumentative and methodological skills of the first two essays, inviting students to demonstrate the knowledge they have acquired in the module by asking students to trace a global theme across time and space.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2022/23 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2023/24 entry will be published here in early-April 2023. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.