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SPA1019 : Introduction to History, Culture and Society of the Iberian Peninsula

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jorge Catala-Carrasco
  • Lecturer: Professor Jens R Hentschke, Dr Conceicao Pereira
  • Teaching Assistant: Dr Carmina Gustrán Loscos
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module has two parts. First part introduces students to the history, culture and society of Spain and Portugal from the late Middle Ages to the Twenty-first century. Both countries can be studied comparatively because they passed through similar periods of transformation: state formation and consolidation, expansion, absolutist rule, Enlightenment, the age of liberal revolutions and colonial crisis, authoritarianism and democratisation. The module aims to teach students about issues of cultural identities in contemporary Spain and to allow students to analyse these issues in different texts and contexts in the second part of the module.

Outline Of Syllabus

Part I
•       Historical Geography and State Formation in the Iberian Peninsula. Introduction
•       Habsburg Spain's and Avis Portugal's Overseas Expansion and Imperial Overstretch (16th and 17th cc)
•       Bourbon Spain and Bragança Portugal from the Enlightenment to the Age of Liberal Revolution (18th and 19th cc
•       Colonial Crisis , Political Instability, and Failed 'Regeneration' (1851/74 to 1933/39)
•       Representations of the Spanish Civil War I
•       Authoritarian Corporatism: The Nature of the Salazar and Franco Dictatorships
•       Inertia vs. Innovation: The Different Paths of Salazarismo and Franquismo in the Post-War Period
•       Revolutionary Implosion vs. Transición Pactada: Different Pattern of Democratisation in Spain and Portugal
•       Portuguese Revolution
•       Portugal: From Colonial War to decolonization in Angola. Pepetela's 'Ngunga's Adventures'.

Part II

•       Museums in Spain
•       Antonio Muñoz Molina's 'Sefarad'
•       The Spanish Nation
•       Introduction to theories on nationalism
•       Catalan Nationalism
•       Basque Nationalism
•       From Colonial War to decolonization. The end of the Portuguese Empire and the return of the Portuguese from Africa. Dulce Maria Cardoso's 'The Return'.
Both parts and topics may be altered and given in a different order in the event of research leave.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops81:008:00Seminars. See below for details.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00Tutorials.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Seminars: - If a large group (more than 20 st or more than 40 st), then seminars split in groups of 20 st. increasing number of seminar hours for staff, 16, 24 or 32 accordingly.

Lectures will allow definition of the scope of the syllabus, an introduction to a body of knowledge, and modelling of the analysis required (note-taking). Lectures will make use of PowerPoint, and a handout with the structure of the lecture and key words will be provided with each lecture. Seminars will provide the students with the opportunity to discuss a topic individually and in group, develop their independent thinking and critical analysis and debate.
All knowledge outcomes are addressed by the mix of interactive lectures and seminar delivery.
The module is taught in ENGLISH and assessed in ENGLISH.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A50Formal Exam In English.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A501750 words in English.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Given that the module runs through the 2 semesters, the essay in Semester 1 will help students develop analytical and organisational skills, as they will be asked to engage with cultural production (graphic humour, comics, literature, and film) and social issues, such as immigration. The formal written examination in semester 2 will test students’ knowledge of significant terminology and facts about history in Spain and Portugal.

Reading Lists