The Atlantic Slave Trade, Abolition and Empire in Africa (1780-1910) HIST4257

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course examines the transition from slave trading to commodity trading in Africa in the long nineteenth century, a period that saw radical changes in European views of Africa and redefined the continent's position in the global economy. The course begins by discussing the organization of the transatlantic slave trade and the impact of Atlantic commerce on African societies, with particular attention to African consumer cultures. We then move on to analyse the abolition of the slave trade, the rise of "legitimate" commerce, and the peculiarities of the South Atlantic (Angola, Brazil, Cuba) during this transformation. Finally, we examine the legacies of Atlantic slavery in Africa through the continued traffic in captive labour from the mainland to São Tomé island and slavery's "slow death" in early colonial Africa.


15x1hr lectures; 5x1hr seminars over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in History and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into History, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses





Research Project (3000 words) - 60%

5 x 500 word reflection on reading - 40%

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:

■ Explore connections between different geographical areas

■ Explore new methodological approaches to global history

■ Become familiar with complex historical debates

■ Develop professional skills through primary source research and the crafting of historical arguments, both independently and as part of a team

■ Engage in informed student-led discussion of important concepts and historical evidence

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Identify key developments in the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade and the rise of "legitimate" commerce in nineteenth-century Africa

■ Assess the ramifications of this transition in Europe and Africa

■ Understand the main debates in the historiography and dissect historical arguments

■ Locate relevant primary sources and interpret them in the light of the historical literature

■ Construct cogent historical arguments, combining primary and secondary sources

■ Communicate effectively in group discussions

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.