Module Catalogue 2020/21

HIS2252 : A History of Aotearoa New Zealand to the 1920s

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jen Kain
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module covers the history of Aotearoa New Zealand until the 1920s when the British Dominions were declared 'autonomous communities'. It takes a chronological approach to the country’s history to account for its development as a nation-state in Pākehā (white European) terms. Importantly, to counter this Eurocentric view, the module begins with the ‘pre-history’ Polynesian settlement of the region. It then considers colonisation in terms of relations with the Māori peoples and the land, specifically the Treaty of Waitangi and the New Zealand Land Wars. In moving into the latter part of the nineteenth century, the module situates New Zealand in a globalising world, in which its reforms were heralded as state experiments. Refusing to federalise with the Australian colonies, New Zealand became a Dominion in 1907 and remained loyal to the ‘mother country’ in the First World War and the Empire Settlement schemes that followed.

The course aims to provide students with an understanding of the following themes:
•       The place of New Zealand in the Pacific, the British Empire, and alongside Australia.
•       Systematic emigration as de facto colonisation.
•       The development of political self-governance, economic policies and migration control.
•       Liberalism, women’s suffrage and labour reforms.
•       The nineteenth century perception of New Zealand as a ‘Better Britain’ and the contradictions therein.
•       How and why Te reo Māori (language and culture) exists alongside a British-New Zealand national identity.

Overall, this module will provide an opportunity for students to acquire a sound general knowledge of New Zealand’s history using a wide range of primary and secondary material. It will challenge them look more closely at indigenous/coloniser relations, national identity, and how New Zealand’s history and culture is portrayed today.

Outline Of Syllabus

Outline syllabus, intended as a guide only; week-by-week topics may be slightly different to the following:

1.       Introduction: Polynesians as the first settlers
2.       European exchanges: Māori and Pākehā
3.       Settler Colonialism: From the Treaty of Waitangi to self-government
4.       ‘Britain of the South’: New Zealand in the provincial era
5.       The New Zealand Land Wars
6.       The ‘Vogel Era’: Public works and immigration
7.       New Zealand as a social laboratory
8.       Suffrage and Labour Reforms
9.       Dominion status and the First World War
10.       Empire settlement and Demographic concerns
11.       Idealising the ‘land of the long white cloud’, past and present
12.       Summary week

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of this module students should have:
•       A sound general knowledge of the history of Aotearoa New Zealand, and the region’s key demographic, social and political developments until the 1920s.
•       An understanding of settler colonialism and its role within the British Empire.
•       A knowledge and understanding of conflicting historical interpretations towards imperialism, land rights and nationhood.
•       Have a firm grounding in the skills and approaches needed to undertake source analysis for final year dissertations.

Intended Skill Outcomes

•       Develop research skills by locating, critically analysing and accurately summarising historical information drawn from online archives.
•       Engage with a range of secondary readings and with the major historiographical debates.
•       Write clear, well-argued essays that present sound arguments.
•       Respond appropriately to the sensitive themes involved in studying colonisation and ethnicity.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion661:0066:0040% of guided independent study
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading661:0066:0040% of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching122:0024:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study321:0032:0020% of guided independent study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Seminars provide students with an opportunity to participate in discussion and thus to improve their oral communication, team-working, interpersonal and presentation skills. Seminars will also encourage students to select and prioritise from a range of source material, and will enable students to raise and discuss issues in a small group setting.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M251000 word documentary analysis (includes footnotes, excludes bibliography)
Essay1A753000 word extended essay (includes footnotes, excludes bibliography)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The documentary analysis tests the ability to critically analyse, contextualise and connect a primary source to the debates and developments of a given historical period. It will push students to think critically and write concisely. The extended essay tests acquisition of a clear general knowledge of the subject as well as the ability to develop an appropriate topic, gather and synthesize information relevant to that topic, and express complex ideas clearly in written form using appropriate scholarly apparatus. All submitted work will test intended knowledge and skills outcomes and develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree. Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will take the form of an alternative assessment, as outlined in the formats below:

Modules assessed by Coursework and Exam:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be one essay in addition to the other coursework assessment (the length of the essay should be adjusted in order to comply with the assessment tariff); to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Exam only:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 2,000 word written exercises; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Coursework only:
All semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be expected to complete the standard assessment for the module; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2020/21 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 2021/22 entry will be published here in early-April 2021. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.