The Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Development of Plantation Slavery HIST4207

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 60
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Runs Throughout Semesters 1 and 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

The course begins with an exploration of labour society in the early modern British Isles and in West Africa. We will then focus on the development of English colonies in the Caribbean and North America, the development of the Atlantic slave trade to service these colonies, and the evolution of the plantation labour system and its societies and cultures.


Weekly, three hourly meeting, in both first and second semester as scheduled in MyCampus

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements: Successful completion of junior honours in History


Recommended Entry Requirements

Excluded Courses




Assessment by two x 2-hr exams (30% each), two essays approx 2,500 words (10% each), two seminar presentations (6% each) and overall seminar contribution (4% each term), as for all History Special Subjects.



Not applicable

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

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

The aims common to all History Honours Special Subjects are as follows:

■ to prepare students for independent and original analysis of a complex range of evidence, including source materials, thereby developing intellectual skills which will be of benefit in a wide range of careers.

■ to show students how a professional historian works.

■ to familiarise students, through source-criticism, with a wide range of problems of interpretation arising from different usages of language, underlying meanings and intentions, differing standards of objectivity, and the variety of purpose and intent associated with historical evidence (written, visual or other).

■ to ensure, through student-led discussion, that the relative validity of alternative historical interpretations is fully recognised.

■ to encourage students to develop the confidence, imagination, skills and self-discipline required to master a similarly demanding brief in the future, whether in historical research or in any sphere or employment where these qualities are valuable.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

-demonstrate thorough knowledge of how English and West African societies approached free and bound labor, developed an international trade in enslaved Africans, and how, why and with what effects plantation economies and societies developed in the Americas

-employ an interdisciplinary approach to the history of the slave trade and slavery, incorporating economic, social, intellectual, and cultural histories as well as literary and statistical sources

-gain a thorough understanding of the inter-related historiographies of West Africa in the era of the slave trade, the transatlantic slave trade, and New World plantation slavery

-demonstrate the ability to use a broad range of primary source material, including autobiography, literature, maps, manuscript and printed materials, data bases, and visual materials, as evidence for the role of West Africans and Britons in the development of the international trade in slaves, and the genesis of an entirely new racial labour system. 

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.