Silver and Sacraments: The Making of the Spanish Empire HIST4276

  • 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 will explore the making of Europe's first global empire, which emerged from the Iberian Peninsula in the Early Modern period. It will explore the roles of economic, political, and socio-cultural processes, especially religion, and the importance of law and institutions. It will consider different people interacted with the process of the emergence of the Spanish Empire, including Europeans, Africans, and Amerindians.


15x1hr lectures; 5x1hr seminars over ten 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





Examination (90 minutes duration)- 50%

Essay (2,500 words) - 40%

Seminar presentation with handout or PowerPoint (8 minutes) - 10%

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 the historiographical debates about the emergence of early modern empires.

■ Discuss the importance of law and processes of the negotiation of empire.

■ Analysis the complexities of religion in establishing empire and in facilitating resistance.

■ Apply methodologies of global history to investigate the perspectives and experiences of the different people living in the Spanish Empire from different parts of the world and their contributions to empire formation.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Evaluate and critically appraise a range of written, visual and material sources and use these to develop arguments about how the Spanish Empire was established and functioned.

■ Engage with contemporary debates about empire formation in intellectual, social, cultural history, and global history and to make assessments regarding the merits and demerits of different methodologies and theories.

■ Develop skills in written communication, demonstrating ability to critically assess a range of primary sources and secondary arguments and to construct a coherent and consistent independent argument.

■ Develop oral presentation skills, including the ability to introduce audiences to new material and to articulate analytic positions.

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.