Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Latin America in the 20th century ESH4078

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

The importance and impact of Latin America's impact on the global economy and international politics has grown throughout the 20th century. The region holds the world's largest reserves of many resources that are essential for economic growth and industrial development, regionally and internationally. Nonetheless, it remains one of the world's most socially and economically unequal region. Few governments have commanded widespread support or legitimacy for long. This course focuses on specific nation-states to explore these contradictions, conveying both a sense of the distinctiveness of individual Latin American countries and an understanding of what they have in common. The countries covered are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba and Mexico. The course uses the country case studies to examine the main trends and themes in Latin America's economic and social development: wars and revolutions, the struggle for sovereignty, populism, authoritarianism and militarism; neoliberalism and regionalism.


Weekly lecture (1 hour) and weekly seminar (1 hour).



Please note this course does not run every session. For further information please check the ESH Moodle page.

Requirements of Entry

Enrolment in an MA (SocSci) or MA (Arts) Honours Programme

Excluded Courses





60% - A single two-hour examination. Students must answer two essay-style questions from a choice of seven.


40% - One essay (3000 words, excluding bibliography) chosen from list of questions linked to seminar/lecture topics.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to introduce students to key themes and episodes in Latin America in the 20th century. It focuses on the events and processes underway in five countries in order to explore both the different and shared experiences of the region: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Cuba. Through these country case studies, the course aims to highlight the key developments in Latin America's economic, social and political history in the 20th century

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1) Show an informed awareness of how the challenges of independence and the process of nation building in the 19th century shaped Latin America in the 20th century.


2) Examine and assess the rationale for the economic policies and governance structures adopted by Latin American governments in different periods and the extent to which they were determined by internal or international factors.


3) Assess continuity and change in the economic policies and political structures pursued in different Latin American countries and in different periods.


4) Learn of the key stages of developments in the five countries examined, and recognise their specificity or commonality.


5) Evaluate the role of the United States in shaping developments in Latin America in the 20th century.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.