The Making of the Spanish Empire: Indigenous American, African, Asian and European perspectives HIST4287

  • 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

This course examines the different ways Indigenous Americans, Africans, Asians and Europeans constructed and negotiated systems of law and justice in the global Spanish Empire. It explores how global empires were established and consolidated via many different colonial acts of violence, the subjugation of bodies, destruction of cultures, and appropriation of natural resources and maintained via processes of law and justice. It also investigates how imperial subjects could also negotiate the complex legal ecologies of empire to make claims to resources and freedoms. It focuses on colonial Latin America but has broader implications for the history of international law.


Three hours of seminar time per week over 20 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 in the current session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Successful completion of Junior Honours in History.

Excluded Courses





One written assignment (historiographical review) (2500 words) - 20%

One longer essay (5,000 words) - 65%

Two seminar presentations (10 minutes each, notionally 800 words each) accompanied by PowerPoint slides - 10%.

Two written commentaries & questions (500 words each) on a peer's presentation - 5 %.

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. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will 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:

■ Critically engage with different concepts, practices and uses of law and justice within global empires.

■ Introduce students to a wide range of primary and secondary sources to understand concepts, practices and uses of law and justice from the perspectives of different groups of people within the Spanish Empire.

■ Think dynamically about agency and subjectivity in imperial contexts

■ Deepen specialist knowledge of the history of the Spanish Empire and provide an introduction to thinking more broadly about the global history of empires.


Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able 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

■ Develop student critical and analytical skills, through the study of primary and secondary texts embodying different perspectives.

■ Use the methodologies of subaltern studies, postcolonial and decolonial theory and global history as key components of the historian's toolkit.

■ Develop the opportunity for developing independent research and analysis in an extended piece of written work.

■ Develop oral communication skills through seminar discussions and presentations.

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.