Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Seeking Refuge from Slavery: Enslaved Resistance from Africa to the Americas HIST5146

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

 In this course, students will engage with the history of enslaved resistance to slavery and the slave trade through a series of case studies of communities and individuals in different times and places. These case studies will provide the basis for discussion comparative approaches to systems of slavery; exploring the question of 'agency' in the historical of experiences of enslavement, and the role of enslaved people in the legal abolition of slavery. Thinking about fugitive slaves offers insights into the legacies of slavery and its abolition, raises questions about the legal approaches to ending slavery, and gives important historical context to current debates about the policing of Black people in public spaces.


10 x 2 hour seminars over 10 weeks

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level.

Excluded Courses





Source Assignment: Presentation (10 minutes) -10%, and museum label (250 words) - 10%

Book review (1000 words) -20%

Essay (3000 words) - 60%

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Analyse a number of examples of enslaved resistance across a wide range of geographic and cultural settings

■ Critically evaluate some of the key challenges that historians face in analysing primary sources related to slavery and the representation of enslaved people, including the use of databases

■ Explore the 'unintended outcomes' of abolition legislation

■ Offer practice handling archival and other primary sources related to slavery in a critical manner

■ Examine the intersections between historical approaches to the study of slavery, and approaches to 'Modern Slavery'

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Appraise key theoretical and historiographic issues concerning the study of slavery and the experiences of enslaved people of African descent;

■ Discuss shifts in attitudes towards slavery and enslaved people, and the role enslaved resistance played in those changes;

■ Critically evaluate and interpret primary sources related to slavery and slave resistance, and integrate them into analysis of secondary historical writings to produce informed conclusions on a given case study;

■ Analyse the various controversies that surround legal, economic and social debate on the legacies of slavery and representations of enslaved people;

■ Propose informed conclusions about how slavery shaped societies, and the long-term legacies for people of slave descent in different contexts

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.