America the Melting Pot or Salad Bowl: Race and Ethnicity in the US (1619-2019) HIST4291

  • 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 American Studies course is a critical and intersectional examination of the United States' ever-evolving, if often paradoxical, racial politics. Beginning with the colonization of North America to present day the module will interrogate the politics of difference through several key themes including overlapping definitions and representation of ethnicity, race and racism and its continuous impact on modern American identity, politics, its legal system, society, arts, culture, and economy.


10x1hr lectures, 10x1hr seminars over ten weeks as scheduled in 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





Exam (duration 120 minutes) - 50%

Essay (2000 words) - 40%

Oral Presentation (5-7 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. 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:

■ develop intellectual interests and analytical skills through an interdisciplinary approach acquired by students during their first two years.

■ gain awareness of previously unfamiliar methodological approaches, chronological periods and geographical areas by offering a wide understanding of the politics of forced and voluntary immigration and the subsequent backlash of anti-immigration laws from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries.

■ develop skills to interpret historical policy making the evolution of race and ethnicity definition according to United States. 

■ promote student led discussion that will strengthen their confidence and skills through source criticism, analysis, and interpretation.

■ Demonstrate how a professional historian works that reinforces interdisciplinary approach by becoming familiar with complex historical debates and interpretations, gain skills in interpreting primary sources where appropriate, and to inform these discussions with new ideas derived from current research in the fields of History, Sociology and Social Anthropology.

■ Establish transferable skills by fostering individual initiative, personal choice, group discussion and, where appropriate, problem-solving teamwork.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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


■ Chart the historical course of racial and ethnic minorities since the European colonisation of North America

■ Analyse the changing roles of non-white communities in US society, politics and culture

■ Articulate the ways in which structures of racial and ethnic inequities continue to morph and evolve while disenfranchised minorities challenged the status quo, and evaluate the extent to US social and political life have been successful in improving their status in the United States

■ Engage with and critically evaluate different historiographical and popular interpretations of American history and culture through its demographic diversity.

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.