Commodity Histories in the Global South, 1500-2000 HIST5153

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • 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

Short Description

In this course, students explore current themes in global history through the lens of commodities historically produced in the Global South. In a series of weekly seminars, students discuss how sugar, cotton and other goods produced in Africa, Asia, and Latin America have connected peoples and places across the globe and how such commodity chains have contributed to the making of the modern world. The course will involve students critically engaging with a variety of approaches, literatures and primary sources.


1x2hr seminars over 10 weeks as scheduled in MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level

Excluded Courses





Essay (3,000 words): 60%

Abstract & bibliography: 10%

Oral presentation (15-20 minutes): 20%

Seminar contribution (incl. chairing and responding): 10%

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Explore new approaches in global history through the lens of commodities and the theoretical debates and methodological challenges in writing commodity histories.

■ Critically engage with the dynamic historiography of this new field of study and its range of unique primary source material.

■ Investigate the global and local ramifications of commodity production in Global South.

■ Introduce students to new approaches in global history and expose them to some of the theoretical debates and methodological challenges in the writing of commodity histories.

■ Enable students to strengthen their skills as independent researchers through critical engagement with the literature, primary and secondary source research, peer-group discussion, and written output.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Distinguish different ways in which commodities from the Global South have shaped the modern world;

■ Appraise different approaches to writing commodity histories;

■ Interpret specialised secondary literature and relevant primary sources;

■ Compose an original research question and sound historical arguments based on independent research;

■ Translate research findings orally in a clear and concise form;

■ Judge historical arguments in discussion with peers in a critical, open-minded and respectful manner.

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.