Myths of Africa: Africa and Africans in Global History HIST4300

  • 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 construction of myths about African peoples, cultures, and histories from the first century BCE to the present day. From the Roman scholar Pliny to the nineteenth-century German philosopher Hegel, images and writings have often depicted Africans as homogenous, underdeveloped, non-literate, isolated, and on the "threshold" of world history. This course critiques such portrayals using primary sources, secondary readings, film, and music, stressing the centrality of Africans in global transformations.


10 x 1-hour lectures and 5 x 2-hour 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





Course essay - 3,000-word essay - 60%

Online primary source analysis set exercise - 1,500 words - 30%

Oral Contribution - 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:

■ Engage with the historiographical debates concerning the representation of Africa and Africans in global history;

■ Develop a critical understanding of the ways in which Africans have engaged with and shaped the world;

■ Analyse, synthesize and evaluate primary documents and secondary materials;

■ Consider the role of factors such as race, gender and sexuality in shaping misconceptions about Africa.

■ Assess Black artistic and literary criticism in engaging with representations of Africa.

■ Develop key transferable skills, such as analysis, synthesis and argument.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Display an in-depth knowledge of the historical context of Africa's representation;

■ Illustrate the diversity of Africa's peoples and cultures;

■ Analyse the role of race, gender, and sexuality in shaping misconceptions about Africa;

■ Discuss the contribution of Black artistic and literary criticism in challenging such myths;

■ Critically analyse, synthesize, and evaluate primary documents and secondary materials.

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.